There’s a ton of both licensed and unlicensed Angry Birds merchandise floating around the world, and you’d think that the developer of the most recognizable mobile app today would be worried about piracy and protecting their IP. That’s not the case, says Rovio Chief Exec Mikael Hed during the Midem conference in Cannes. “We have some issues with piracy, not only in apps, but also especially in the consumer products. There is tons and tons of merchandise out there, especially in Asia, which is not officially licensed products,” said Hed. Rovio’s chief also said that the company has learned what not to do in these cases from the way that the music industry tried to combat piracy. “We took something from the music industry, which was to stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans. We do that today: we talk about how many fans we have. If we lose that fanbase, our business is done, but if we can grow that fanbase, our business will grow.”
His approach to the problem mirrors what visionaries like Gabe Newell, the CEO of Valve, has done in the past and says that “If we have failed to make our legitimate products the easiest thing to buy, it’s almost our fault that we get pirated.” The music and movie industry needs to take a page from Rovio’s playbook – the digital space has a different set of rules than the meatspace, and the sooner the movie and music industry sees that, the better.