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Rovio CEO says piracy can attract more fans to 'Angry Birds'

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Rovio Mobile CEO Mikael Hed, whose company owns the popular Angry Birds franchise, is unworried by app piracy and unlicensed merchandise, a stance that it contrasts with the efforts of the music industry to crack down legally on copyright infringement.

Yellow Angry Bird
Yellow Angry Bird

Despite the ubiquity of unlicensed Angry Birds merchandise in places like Asia, Rovio Mobile's chief executive isn't worried about piracy hurting his business. At the Midem music industry conference in Cannes, Mikael Hed told listeners that although "tons and tons" of unofficial Angry Birds products are currently being sold, and app piracy is widespread, it's better to concentrate on building a fanbase than try to shut down infringement through legal means.

Hed contrasted his approach with that of the music industry, which has long looked to the courts to solve piracy. Unlike the music industry, Hed says his major goal is "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." Given that former Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka has spoken favorably of unofficial merchandise in the past, the company's views shouldn't come as a surprise. Now, with Rovio planning to expand the Angry Birds brand with music tie-ins, hopefully its relatively laissez-faire stance on copyright will continue to get results.