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Both Sides of the Pirate Controversy
By Sadhusanga das
Dear Svavana prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
There is an activity in any technical production called "R&D" (Research and Development). This is what the $600 charge is attempting to recoup on the VedaBase CD-Rom. There were tens of thousands of dollars put into equipment and production costs, and thousands of hours of time put into labor - all to make something like a two dollar VedaBase CD-ROM disc "appear".
Please don't misunderstand me, I actually agree with you on the overpricing of tapes, CD's, video's and CD-ROM products... however, I also understand the concept of "R&D". Actually, in the early 90's I worked with the BBT Archives when they were developing the VedaBase. I recall working for months, transcribing and typing in lectures and conversation transcripts. It was a tumultuous task! Understand, the Archives were responsible for housing a staff of devotees and their families. Where do you think the money came from Prabhu? I know myself, if I didn't have some type of basic 'devotee maintenance' support, I couldn't have been part of that "R&D" team that was producing the VedaBase. Rather, I would have been forced to work an outside job to maintain my household. This was the case with all of the staff members.
"Investors" are always willing to give money to develop a project (for research, equipment and labor), but they also want to realize a profit and recoup their investment from the project. The profit comes from the distribution of the final product. Without Investors, equipment and labor, there would be no videos or CD-ROMs to pirate! If you want to distribute these devotional products for practically nothing, then you’ll soon see the end of any new devotional products.
On the other side of the coin, I also think that Srila Prabhupada's legacy should be available to everyone... at an inexpensive and reasonable price. It appears that the BBT and ITV offices may sometimes continue to charge exorbitant rates for products that have long since 'paid themselves off'. At that point, it may not be about the 'devotional project' anymore, but about the 'money'. Under these circumstances, it's not at all amazing that so called "pirates" appear in the market place... to supply the needs of innocent devotees. (All glories to Gargamuni and Brahmananda Prabhus!)
I would like to think a "compromise" could be developed. For example, maybe a copyright timetable can be implemented so that a 'reasonable' amount of time can be allowed to recoup money from a project (say 3 or 5 years?), but then after that, distribution should be freely allowed. Or another idea may be to develop a "R&D" membership club. Regular donors would pledge financial support on a regular basis to the Research and Development fund, and then in return would receive new products at extreme discounts (i.e. 80% off retail), depending on their level of support.
At any rate, I can see both sides of this issue. I would hope that a reasonable compromise can be developed so that all parties can benefit from Srila Prabhupada's legacy, and at the same time be compensated in a 'fair and reasonable manor'.
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