BugMe more

There was much discussion and hoopla in the blogosphere this week regarding BugMeNot and a petition to newspaper publishers indicating that the signers would register fake accounts on their sites:

We, the undersigned, wish to demonstrate the pointless nature of forced
web site registration schemes and the dubious demographic data they

Although we will have required registration on our site, we’re not the least bit worried about BugMeNot. Because anyone who uses it to access our site will only be cheating themselves of the customized relevant content we’ll provide. And if a user doesn’t care about that, we won’t be able to credibly monetize their pageviews anyway.

Anyone ever used BugMeNot for LinkedIn? For Amazon? For Ebay?

No. Because there wouldn’t be any point to it.

Instead of tightening up registration walls, publishers should be figuring out how registration improves the user experience.

UPDATE: Chris "Long Tail" Anderson posits an argument that a certain amount of piracy actually benefits the seller:

The usual price-setting method is to look at the entire
potential market, from the many at the economic lower end to the few at
the top,
and set a price somewhere in between the top and bottom that will maximize total revenues.
But if you cede the bottom to piracy, you can set a price between the top and the
middle. The result: higher revenues per copy, and potentially higher revenues overall…

…Add to this the familiar (if controversial) argument that piracy
helps seed technology markets, and can be a net benefit. Especially in
countries such as China and India, the ubiquity of pirated Windows and
Office have made them de-facto national standards…

…The lesson is to find a good-enough approach to content protection that is easy,
convenient and non-annoying to most people, and then accept that there
will be some leakage. Most consumers see the value in paying for
something of guaranteed quality and legality, as long as you don’t
treat them like potential criminals. And the minority of others, who
are willing to take the risks and go to the trouble of finding the
pirated versions? Well, they probably weren’t your best market anyway.

Mike Orren is the Chief Product Officer of The Dallas Morning News; President of Belo Business Intelligence; husband to Crystal Orren; and a Mungarian at Munger Place Church in Dallas, TX. All opinions herein are mine alone.