What’s the deal with piracy these days? Have we really forgot the concept of theft? Do we not understand the value of a purchased good or service? Comics, video games, movies, and music all suffer from this epidemic. From the ripping of a friend’s CD to direct torrenting of a full length, Blu-ray quality movie average, everyday people are stealing art left and right.
What could justify this act in our minds? We understand that if a “bad guy” robs a bank that he deserves to go to jail, but if you want your favorite band’s new album and don’t feel like paying for it, it’s is “okay” to just look up a .torrent and get it in minutes. Are we ignorant of the wrongdoing? I was. As a teenager I would rip my friend’s CDs all the time in the ever desperate struggle to maximize my musical thirst. What I did was clearly theft, no different than if I had walked into Wal-Mart, pulled Switchfoot’s Nothing is Sound off the shelf, and walked out the door with it. Even though I could have claimed ignorance at the time, I was still in the wrong. Do other people not know ripping your friend’s music is stealing? Is copying your buddy’s WC3 .ISO not theft? In a way, I think the ease of stealing something negates the crime in our minds. We may think “It can’t be stealing. Stealing involves Ocean’s 11 style coordination and deception and planning”, but in the year we live in, 2014 stealing can be a few clicks with no repercussions. Comics are stolen as easily as taking a few pictures on your smartphone.
Some people I know have justified their purloining of entire artists’ entire discography by saying they are “[Band Name’s] biggest fan”. Would you go to your best friend and tell them that you love him/her so much that you are just going to steal their product so as to leave them without a means of paying their own bills? This is the worst argument possible argument I could think of. If you are such a great fan, support them! Buy all of their albums and t-shirts, and DVDs, and drive to see them at any concert within a 4 hour radius to where you live. Give them as much money as possible, don’t steal from them!
The second worst “defence” I’ve heard someone use when justifying this crime was “Well, I bought a t-shirt and concert tickets last month when they were in town.” Is it cool to fill up on gas at the gas station and walk out with a five finger discounted Snickers and a Coke? Of course it isn’t. We pay for the services and goods that we want. That is how fathers and mothers can make money to feed their babies.; how teenagers can make enough money for college and parties. If you want to buy a McDouble, fries, and a large Dr. Pepper, you pay for all three.
“But here’s the thing, I can’t afford Skyrim. Publisher’s charge too much for video games.” This is an argument more often heard from the under 20 crowd. Here is the response to that: If you can’t afford something, then you can’t have it. I don’t want to spark a controversy on welfare or healthcare. I am speaking of the burglary of art. These are completely non-essential items. If you can not afford to buy Skyrim, unfortunately you can’t have Skyrim. Life can sometimes be rough. In the grand scheme of things, not having a video game or a movie really isn’t that bad when in your city there are people without food on the table?
When Ubisoft, Sony and many other companies announced and created their intense DRM schemes, so many people complained. These efforts ultimately failed because they made it harder for legitimate customers to purchase media, but also because the pirates were even better than the protection of the media. If you think about it though, Ubisoft’s actions had to have spurned from something. Ubisoft just wanted to make sure they received the money they had earned by making good software, but according to Joystiq, 93-95% of all of their PC players had pirated their games. When they tried to remedy the issue, they couldn’t because pirates still looted and honest consumers were punished. Content providers can’t fix this issue.
We can’t end this problem entirely, but I have hope that someone reading this will at least think twice before aiding in the very art they claim to be celebrating. Please understand that what you are doing is theft. If you were ignorant of your actions, you aren’t any longer. Go and steal no more.