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Angry Birds Boss Says Piracy Improves Business

The head of the company behind Angry Birds, Mr Mikael Hed, has claimed that piracy isn't necessarily a bad thing and that it can even generate extra business.

Taking a swing at the music industry, he said that its actions were the perfect example of how not to go about dealing with unlicensed copies of products and merchandise.

"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 while speaking at the Midem conference in Cannes.

"We could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy."

Court cases are not the way forward continued Mr Hed, stating that the only time his firm would consider tackling pirates with legal action was if they were found to be damaging the brand. Redistributing Rovio products doesn't do that - creating cheap knockoffs does.

Reported in the Guardian, the most illuminating part of what he said though came when discussing how Rovio sees its customers. He said that firms need 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."

This is the point that many corporations and media companies miss out on. The producers of the Hurt Locker sued over 5,000 people that they claimed had illegally downloaded the movie. That's 5,000 people that will never pay to watch one of their movies again. Ever.

5,000 lost fans vs not getting paid for those same people watching your movie. I wonder which I'd pick.

Towards the end of his speech Mr Hed discussed the future of Angry Birds. He said that because the game was so popular now, it had become a channel in itself and that Rovio would incorporate more within it than just the basic game.

"The content itself has transformed into the channel, and the traditional distribution channels are no longer the kingmakers." Some of that will apparently be with music labels, though perhaps these latest piracy claims will affect that.

"We have some discussions with labels about what we could do together to give access. It is possible to promote music content through our apps as well... We are positively looking for new partnerships, and we have a rather big team working on partnerships, so it's just a case of getting in touch with us and we'll take it from there"

Facebook game maker Zynga has previously done cross promotions with music artists so it seems that multiple platforms converging as part of online gaming is something that will become far more common in the future.