Piracy is Good, Canadian Indie Producers Conference Told

Content producers meeting in Ottawa heard illegal file sharing takes product by emerging industry players into new markets.

OTTAWA - Piracy is good?

Apparently so, a Canadian media conference was told Thursday, as illegal downloading secures indie producers more business and markets for their product.

“We’re really coming to a place right now where piracy and file sharing is actually doing what it’s supposed to do: It’s showing new markets, it’s taking the content business to new places and it’s helping build big businesses for new and emerging companies but also for some of our big leading content providers,” Gavin McGarry, president of Jumpwire Media, told an afternoon panel at Prime Time, the annual gathering of major Canadian indie producers, in Ottawa.

Digital media consultant Robert Tercek told the panel entitled “The Ins and Outs of Illegal Downloading” that content producers could avoid piracy by reasonably pricing their product for consumers.

“If they make their content available, this part of the issue will go away,” he argued.

Robert Levine, a former executive editor of Billboard and author of “Free Ride,” agreed that providing access to product, rather than throwing up barriers, was key to getting paid.

“I’m not creating blocks between my content and you, I’m putting in a toll booth between my content and you,” he told the panel.

Earlier Thursday, Tercek, founder of General Creativity, delivered a keynote speech at Prime Time where he warned major studio producers that they need to prize innovation over litigation and legislation to compete in the digital space.

“We are awash in content,” he argued, as each year 300 million online videos compete for attention against 250 studio film releases.

And on the broadcast front, digital behemoths like Facebook and Google, which are colonizing traditional audiences, are turning TV into just more software competing against emerging social media sites and services.

“TV is turning into an app. It’s just another app that runs on someone else’s platform,” Tercek said.

And while Google TV may face delays and obstacles, broadcasters have no reason to drop their guard.

“Google is not stopping. They bought Motorola. They’re building expertise in the real-time insertion of advertising. They’re moving into display,” he said.

Prime Time, organized by the Canadian Media Production Association, wraps on Friday.