Top 10 Reasons People Use To Justify Pirating Digital Content (And Why They’re Wrong)


Pirating digital content is illegal. Full stop. 

Yet people continually steal eBooks and movies and television shows and treat it like it's no big deal. There's a couple of reasons it happens: Torrenting is easy and the chance of getting caught is low. And saving money is fun, especially when the economy isn't at its strongest. But an eBook is a luxury, not a right. If you can't afford it, too bad, but that's life. 

Still, people excuse the practice of pirating with a plethora of ridiculous reasons that don't hold up to scrutiny. I have yet to hear a single legitimate argument in favor of it. Here's the ones I've heard so far--and why they're complete nonsense:

An eBook is a luxury, not a right. If you can't afford it, too bad, but that's life. If you go to Target and they have a flatscreen television you like, but you can't afford it, can you just take it? No.

10. We're only hurting big business.

Say you steal a book published by HaperCollins, a company owned by Rupert Murdoch. Yes, Murdoch has a lot of money, and I bet it's satisfying to take a few fractions of a penny out his pocket. But here's who you're really hurting, besides the author (which should be enough): The editors, the layout people, the marketing people, the cover designer... hell, even the maintenance staff in the building where the book was put together. Those are the people who are getting paid from the cost of the book. It takes a village. Murdoch isn't sweating the loss; the people who brought the book to market are. 

9. Authors already have a plenty of money.

J.K. Rowling may not notice a loss in income, but what about the self-published author? What about the author who’s counting on a royalty check to cover the rent? Publishing a book isn’t a path to fame and fortune. There are plenty of mid-list authors, or authors whose books are out of print, who don't see a dime from their work. And it doesn't help them if their books are pirated, obviating any need to buy them. 

8. The distribution method sucks.

Just because you don't like how something is distributed doesn't mean you can steal it. Game of Thrones is pirated at a huge rate, and sure, getting HBO shows can be tough--if you don't have cable and a subscription, you have to wait until the show is released on iTunes or Amazon Prime or on DVD. People like to say, Well, if they just offered HBOGo for $15 a month then I would pay for that. Except that doesn't work. HBO is an exclusive service for cable customers--if that service is no longer exclusive, cable companies might not carry it. HBO may be "leaving money on the table," but it's not enough money to justify losing the support of cable companies. Then they won't have enough money to make Game of Thrones

7. Digital content is too expensive.

I will acknowledge that pricing on eBooks is not ideal, but pricing is a different conversation--you can't just take what you want, when you want, because you disagree with what's being charged. If you go to Target and they have a flatscreen television you like, but you can't afford it, can you just take it? No. Same rule applies. 

6. We would pay for it if we just had access to it.

This is bullshit of the highest order. Some people would, sure, but you know what? Both season 1 and 2 of Game of Thrones are available on DVD, and through a variety of digital download services, and it's still pirated at a huge rate. If this was true, as soon as something was available for sale in another format, it wouldn't be pirated ever again. It's ridiculous for people to pretend they'd be noble, if only the circumstances were right. (As someone pointed out in the comments, season 2 of Game of Thrones is not available yet. Plenty of digital content gets pirated even though its for sale elsewhere, so the point remains).

5. What about libraries?

Libraries purchase the large majority of books in their collections through wholesale retailers like Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Money changes hands. Authors get paid. All this argument shows is you don't even care to check your facts. 

4. Everyone else is doing it.

There are a lot of examples of mainstream acceptance of pirating, but the most recent (and troubling) example comes from David Pogue, the technology writer from the New York Times. He wanted to get The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum for his son, but he discovered the eBook wasn't available because of a dispute between Ludlum’s estate and Bantam. Instead of downloading any one of a million other eBooks, Pogue downloaded a torrent and cut the publisher a check for $9.99. Except if the books aren’t available, the estate probably still has the rights, so the check should have gone to them. And he used the biggest and most respected paper in the world as a venue to justify a selfish, petty, and illegal act. Shameful.

3. We live in a different country so we don't get movies/books/shows until months later.

Distribution methods are not ideal--far behind the capabilities of technology. It's frustrating, and distributors should absolutley rethink how media is disseminated in our global cultural landscape. But it still doesn't give you the right to steal something. Again: Digital content is a luxury, not a right.

2. We already own the book/movie/show in another format.

If you have an eBook, you can't go to a bookstore and take the paperback version, claiming that you already own it anyway. I'm heartened to see that some publishers and movie studios are including digital copies with physical media--I'd pay a few extra bucks to get eBook versions of the physical books I buy--but until that's a common practice, this is the system we have. Buying something in one format doesn't give you the right to other formats. 

1. If you're a writer, you should just be happy to write.

I've seen this tossed out a couple of times--that if you're a writer or a filmmaker, you should just be flattered that people want your stuff, and you should take pirating as a compliment. Well, screw that. Writing and filmmaking and art are great jobs, but they're still jobs. A self-published author still has to sit down and proofread and code and release and track an eBook--these things take time. Expecting people to forgo payment because you wanted something and didn't want to pay for it? You're an asshole. And if you're an artist, you're an even bigger asshole, because you lack empathy for fellow artists. But, look, if you're utterly convinced that artists should just be happy to create, I'll make you a deal: I'll do my job for free, but you have to do yours for free. We'll circle back in a month and see how that went. 

Am I wrong? Do you think any of these reasons are legitimate? Let's discuss. And let's keep it civil, alrighty?

UPDATE: So in response to this article (an opinion piece you guys, so really, calm down) I got this anonymous e-mail. Just wanted to let you know you suck. You suck as a person. If I ran into you on the streets I would punch you in the face. I would punch you again just to do it.

I'd love for someone try to punch me in the face over something I wrote on the internet, because my life has been too normal lately. 

To leave a comment Login with Facebook or create a free account.


John Jarzemsky's picture
John Jarzemsky August 31, 2012 - 9:15am

*slow clap*

Also, in regards to number 1, "only hurting big business" is the stupidest defense for this criminal behavior I've ever heard. Ethics only exist in a vacuum. It's not more OK to steal from somebody who has a lot of money versus somebody who has a little money. TAKING SOMETHING THAT ISN'T YOURS IS THEFT AND THEFT IS WRONG. 

If you try to justify it any other way your entire moral framework falls apart.

andreadbc's picture
andreadbc August 31, 2012 - 9:23am

You make some good points but I wanted to mention that season 2 of Game of Thrones is most definitely not out on DVD yet (and probably won't be released until early 2013).

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this August 31, 2012 - 9:39am

Thanks andreadbc. Correction made. 

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words August 31, 2012 - 9:53am

@John Jaremzky - as far as I'm aware, no one has been charged with theft for downloading pirated media. I believe charges are over copyright violations. the difference as far as I can tell is that theft is detrimental (i.e. removing an object from someone's use, like stealing a car, or a bucket of cash), whereas digital piracy is copying something and making it available - the loss is to expectations of revenue, not the cash in hand).

Doesn't mean it's legal, just not the same thing as theft.

John Jarzemsky's picture
John Jarzemsky August 31, 2012 - 10:22am

Theft (noun): the action or crime of stealing.

Steal (verb): to take without permission or without legal rights


Quibbling over semantics isn't the best way to defend piracy, but I'll go ahead and point out that pirating copyrighted material is detrimental in a number of ways both to the artist, the publisher, and in the long run, to the audiences who consume such products.

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words August 31, 2012 - 10:26am

@JJ - this is a legal argument, not semantics. This be from ye oldde criminal code of canada (YMMV):

322. (1) Every one commits theft who fraudulently and without colour of right takes, or fraudulently and without colour of right converts to his use or to the use of another person, anything, whether animate or inanimate, with intent

(a) to deprive, temporarily or absolutely, the owner of it, or a person who has a special property or interest in it, of the thing or of his property or interest in it;


as for piracy:

Piratical acts

75. Every one who, while in or out of Canada,

    (a) steals a Canadian ship,

    (b) steals or without lawful authority throws overboard, damages or destroys anything that is part of the cargo, supplies or fittings in a Canadian ship,

    (c) does or attempts to do a mutinous act on a Canadian ship

Calling it theft or piracy are both (in legal terms) incorrect. You could call it reckless driving and that still doesn't represent the crime that John is so vehemently denouncing. It's copyright infringement.

John Jarzemsky's picture
John Jarzemsky August 31, 2012 - 10:31am

I wasn't making an argument for why it's wrong in legal terms, and neither, I think, was Rob. I'm making an ethical argument. And in the language of ethics, there's little difference between theft, piracy, and stealing.

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words August 31, 2012 - 10:32am

Also, Rob, I don't understand the difference between libraries, who pay for one or more copies (or have them donated), where the users to whom the books are loaned don't pay a penny towards the author, publisher, or designer vs someone who purchases a copy and makes it available online.

I'm not arguing in favour of copyright infringement, but I don't see how libraries paying for a copy and makes it availablet to countless readers and a private citizen who pays for a  copy and makes it available to countless readers differ in your scheme here.


postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words August 31, 2012 - 10:33am

but isn't there a difference between theft/stealing/piracy and copyright infringement?

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this August 31, 2012 - 10:49am

postpomo, the library still legally aquires the book.

When a library has a book that it lends out, there is only one copy of the book. Only one person can read it at a time. 

When someone makes a book available online, there are as many copies as there are people downloading it. 

Ben Villeneuve's picture
Ben Villeneuve from Maine is reading Gardens of the Moon August 31, 2012 - 11:03am

The argument that postpomo puts forth is probably the one that's most conspicuously missing from this (great, necessary, heartening) column. I get into a lot of useless internet arguments on stupid internet forums, and one of the most common is the one addressed in this article, the one where people think they're entitled to unlimited entertainment like it's food or something. Inevitably, somebody makes the argument that when they download Game of Thrones, they're not technically taking anything, because there's no physical object involved. 

In my opinion, though, the point where the exchange of digital goods becomes commonplace is where the rubber really hits the road on copyright. When you download something, you're increasing the number of that thing that exists in the world. When you copy something without permission, you're inflating the number of that thing that exists beyond what the creator or rightsholder wants, therefore devaluing it.

My favorite of these arguments, by the way, is 5: "What about libraries?" To which I respond, yeah, what about libraries? Why don't you go to a library and take out a book and entertain yourself for hours upon hours instead of suckling further at the teat of illicitly-gained diversion?

I pirated tons of stuff for many years and I never enjoyed my entertainment nearly as much as I do now, when everything I take in is legitimately acquired. I give a piece of my collected value decided upon by another person, and in return I receive a piece of their produced value. Without that exchange, consumption of entertainment feels hollow. 

And anyway, it always confound me to see that people are willing to spend hours taking in media that they don't care enough about to want to support the creators. It feels like they're sending mixed messages.

John Jarzemsky's picture
John Jarzemsky August 31, 2012 - 11:03am

Not to mention that a library is a regulated body from which any person can check out materials, whereas a private citizen is embued with the power of who and who will not benefit from his purcahse and lending. The library system is egalitarian, personal discretion is not.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks August 31, 2012 - 11:15am

I'm not going to argue for or against piracy, but here's the thing: the "loss of money" from piracy is actually a loss of expected funds. Stealing a paperback from a book store costs them what they paid for it; if I upload an eBook online, they're losing the money that someone may or may not have paid for it otherwise.

Also, I've admitted a few times in the forum that I pirated Scrivener, a writing program that I absolutely, gleefully adore and constantly recommend and suggest. There have been multiple people who bought Scrivener on my word alone, both online and people I know in real life. Here's the thing: if Scrivener had given the copy to me for review and then let me suggest it to people, it would have had the same results.

did pay for a copy of Scrivener when I had the money, but by then, around six or seven people had already purchased it on my word alone. So they got my money, but they also got money from a few more people than they would have if I hadn't been promoting it (which I was able to do because I had a free copy when I couldn't afford to pay for it.)

Quality items, like books, movies, music, software, and TV shows, will always have a loyal, dedicated fan base. I shelled out cash for WZRD's album because I'm such a desperate Kid Cudi fan without even listening to it, because I knew that it would be great. I had never used Scrivener, never heard from anyone who had, so I got it for free, loved the shit out of it, and paid for it and passed on the word to people who also paid for it.

So if your shit is worth it, you're more likely to get people behind it who are willing to pay for it and tell people to pay for it.

Here's an interesting question: should I be allowed to give my Netflix or Nook log-in to my boyfriend, or does he have to pay for it, too? Piracy is a larger scale version of giving my boyfriend a book I'm finished reading or a DVD I didn't like. Where's the uproar over giving my paperback to a friend, who gives it a friend, who gives it to a friend?

ReadingFTW's picture
ReadingFTW August 31, 2012 - 11:30am

Your article compelled me to create an account just so I could comment. While your points are valid, this is the same "argument" that has been going on for years with music. The only difference is that you replaced the nuances of the music industry with the nuances of the book industry. Way to be original :::sarcastic thumbs up::: 

Ben Villeneuve's picture
Ben Villeneuve from Maine is reading Gardens of the Moon August 31, 2012 - 11:34am

"Here's an interesting question: should I be allowed to give my Netflix or Nook log-in to my boyfriend, or does he have to pay for it, too? Piracy is a larger scale version of giving my boyfriend a book I'm finished reading or a DVD I didn't like. Where's the uproar over giving my paperback to a friend, who gives it a friend, who gives it to a friend?"

That's not quite right, though. First off, Netflix has DRM built in; two people can't be watching movies on the same account at the same time. And secondly, no, piracy is actually nothing like that. Piracy is like if you opened a press in your basement and started to give out free copies of books while still retaining your original copy. There's no uproar (or at least very limited, fringe uproar) over lending out books to friends because in that case the overall number of copies of that book doesn't go up. You haven't violated copyright because you haven't copied.

Copyright is important, people. Just because it's an easy crime doesn't mean it's less wrong.

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words August 31, 2012 - 12:23pm

@Ben Villeneuve - there is an important aspect to copyright, for sure, but the more I think about it, the more it seems that it has changed significantly with the expansion of digital media, and I'm not sure it's all for the good.

Protecting people's rights to make a living off of their work is important. Allowing a business to grow and expand its operations, allowing it to serve new authors, or translating works into other languages and so forth is also beneficial.

But there's a point when the bloody thing has paid for itself several times over, and it should simply enter the public domain. Like "Davinci Code". It's the highest grossing book in all of history, and yet we are still being demanded a price to purchase it in physical or e- form. I think the erosion of the commons and the broadening of copyright has moved beyond what is reasonable in some cases. I'm not justifying breaking the law because of this, but it's part of the equation that isn't discussed above..

Maybe an e-book is a luxury, but stories are as old as language, and are older than economics. I think we have a right to our stories. You can check out Shakespeare online, and there's Project Gutenberg and Wikisource that make public domain work available. But works being published now are locked down, and may not enter the public domain within a reasonable time frame.

Personally, I'll never use an e-reader, so downloading e-books is a moot point for me.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Library Books August 31, 2012 - 12:56pm

As Nelson Muntz would say, piracy is a victimless crime, like punching someone in the dark!

511Kinderheim's picture
511Kinderheim from Calgary, Alberta is reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman August 31, 2012 - 2:32pm

I think postpomo made a good point about copyright and public domain.

There are many ways to save money and still get around piracy, from libraries, buying used books, using services like Netflix, or reading classics in the public domain. However, all books published in about the last fifty years or so have an indefinite copyright by the publisher, so hardly any newer books are being added to the public domain, which I think would be a detriment for a lot of people.

Piracy is a problem, but in my opinion it results more from a disconnect between consumers and distributors than a sense of entitlement. You can look down your nose at people who pirate, but at the same time distributors have a responsibility to respond to the demands of their consumers - thats how business in a consumption-based economy work. The internet gives consumers instant access to information, and also entertainment, yet many distributors still work on an old system that doesn't meet expectations in today's world. You can tell those who pirate to just suck it up, but without also telling distributors to 'get with it', the problem won't be solved.

Here's my own confession: When a new season of BBC's Sherlock gets released, I watch it illegally online until the dvd is released in my country. I don't feel good about it, it's a great show and I want to reward everyone who worked on it. It's also frustrating though, because the episodes usually aren't aired until a month or two after being aired in the UK, and the dvd comes out five months later. The show has a huge audience in many countries, and yet they close us off to see the reaction and hear all the spoilers until we have a chance to watch it legally. Maybe it's selfish, but for a company to succeed they have to serve the selfish interests of customers.

(This is already too long, but) Music I think is a special case. The music industry desperately needs to change the way it distributes music and produces artists. The way people find and decided which music to listen to has changed. Before itunes and services like it went big, you went and bought a cd, even if you didn't like all the songs, and most of the revunue went to the company and not the band itself. Now people are inclined to buy only the singles they want and not full albums, and with internet services more of your money goes to the artist themselves. People also tend to listen to music illegally as a sort-of test run before purchasing. Instead of reacting to this, like I said before, the music industry lobbies for law after law to force us into buying again, instead of changing their own system.

Brian Griffin's picture
Brian Griffin August 31, 2012 - 4:47pm

I created this account just to give a thumbs up to postpomo and 511Kinderheim for adding some nuance to the picture. I read the original article and all I could see and hear in my mind was the scene from Family Guy where Stewie is at Woodstock and sings "establishment, establishment, you always know what's best" to a booing crowd.

Loss of possible/fantasy revenue is not the same as beeing the victim of theft. The problem is the unwillingness of big business to adapt in many cases. I must first point out that E-books are still something very new to me. I have just recently discovered iBooks and think is the best thing ever, having easy access to so many books plus geting to read the beginning before deciding if you want to buy it. Regarding movies however I download so many pirated movies that I would NEVER had paid for otherwise to see had they not been available this way.

I've also heard statistics that people who watch a lot of pirated movies for example increase their overall consumption and also go to the cinema much ofter. I don't know much about the situation with e-books but I see flourishing music and movie industries with incredibly rich artists doing better than ever. Despite the similar complaints about piracy.

Make things a lot cheaper and a lot more easily and faster accessible after releases, and people will choose the legal alternative for sure. A lot do already anyway, buying in to the scare tactics of big business.

And finally, just because something is illegal or not has nothing to do with whether it is wrong or right. Sure, it's nice if it corresponds somewhat, but as one grows up and develops its own moral compass, one also has to learn to deal with the discrepancies.

Sean Cooper's picture
Sean Cooper August 31, 2012 - 6:09pm

This article successfully erects and knocks down ten straw men. In spirit, I agree with most of it, but not all (for instance, the argument that copying a product devalues it by making it more prevalent is not only incorrect - most successful items/brands/artworks have gained value through becoming prevalent in households and streets - but implies that we're destroying the product in the same way by buying it). And the notion that people should just pay Sony or whoever the ransom figure they demand because they employ accountants and legal people who'll miss out? Hmmm....

And the "wait six months and buy" argument: For most of us not in America, it's not a matter of waiting a few months until the DVD comes out. A lot of content never comes here - or, like the DVD example mentioned, it only comes on DVD and only the people who downloaded the TV show actually know what it is.

Even a lot of streaming news articles, etc are not playable in my country. And Adobe and Apple have both been called to account on why we Australians pay typically 40%-50% more for the same digital download as people in other countries. There's currently an inquiry into this, but the only way massive international companies will ever take it seriously is if consumers vote with their feet.

I'll concede the point that both price and availability are separate arguments (though I'd like to point out that the distinction is maintained by content-pimps and the debate on whether they're really separater arguments is very far from over), but you'd have to admit that the difference is that price and availability arguments can be avoided by distributors - and therefore the argument never really got legs. Not until the piracy debate, which was an argument they had to have. One virtue of piracy is that it's the only thing that's making distributors even pretend to have serious discussions about price and availability. 

Most importantly, this article is about ten years too late. I was hoping that a rehash of this issue might be justified by some now arguments, but it's the same old unproductive circular rhetoric we saw at the end of the nineties.

And people still create content in a world filled with piracy. I'm one of them. I also download. And buy. Distributors are much richer for my existence, even with the downloading that I do. 

Perhaps instead of trotting out the same condescending arguments that have failed to convince otherwise-law-abiding-citizens on the download issue, you might like to adopt a positive model - comedian Louie CK springs to mind. He self-published his last "dvd" and made it available on his website for $5 via Paypal and appealed to people's loyalty and gratitude. He made over $500,000 in four days and a million in his first month. You can read about it here:

Ultimately, people who treat theiur audiences with respect will be rewarded. Distributors, record labels, etc didn't get the loyalty because they never earned the social capital. You want to get a better deal for content creators? Use positive loyalty-earning examples instead of patronising straw men and treating downloaders like dummies.

Jason Van Horn's picture
Jason Van Horn from North Carolina is reading A Feast For Crows September 1, 2012 - 12:31pm

I pirate, but only things I'd have access to normally but aren't able to see at that time. For example, Fringe. I have television. I'm just not able to record Fringe so that I can watch it at a time of my choosing. So I'll go online, find a torrent of that Fringe episode, and then download it so that I can watch it later. 

I'll also download something like Game of Thrones if it doesn't come On Demand quick enough. Once again, I'm already paying for HBO, it's just that I can't watch it at the time of that airing. 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks September 1, 2012 - 1:45pm

I've never understood the wait and buy it later argument, either. There isn't even a product to be channeling money away from when you pirate a TV show before it's released on DVD. How is that costing the producers money? That's an honest question.

It's all about expectation of money. There was a grossly large figure floating around about how much money pirating was "costing" businesses -- but that was if every single piece of media that had been pirated had been bought. There's no way in hell that would happen, guys. One of the major reasons people pirate is to find out if something is worth buying. If it is, you'll get your money either by word-of-mouth advertising or someone wanting to support you (i.e. my Scrivener example.) If your product is shit, well, you don't deserve the money.


Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated September 1, 2012 - 9:40pm

I just hope to make it to the point people are making excuses for pirating my work.

Ray Richards's picture
Ray Richards from Michigan and Iowa is reading The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson September 2, 2012 - 10:41am

How about "people reading is never a bad thing"? I get a boner if someone makes it past the first page of whatever I write. The people are more likely to buy a book by an author I they have already read once, if they like them.

Stop being unlikable fucks.

Ray Richards's picture
Ray Richards from Michigan and Iowa is reading The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson September 2, 2012 - 10:41am

An opinion and an insult for flavor. Extra post, no delete. I'm afraid I will have to charge for this one. 

On the topic of commenting, this comment field ignores my in-browser spell check. I'm not unannoyed. 

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words September 2, 2012 - 1:06pm

the majority of artists whose work is pirated are already bestsellers, or top 40, or blockbusters - I know of more than a few authors and musicians who put up their work for free (or 99 cents) because exposure is more important to them at this stage of their careers than profit.

I'm not saying that independent or lesser known artists don't get pirated, but it's far less, and many of them prefer exposure.

I appreciate artists who connect directly with their fans via the Internet, and avoid distributors/publishers/etc... altogether. It makes me wonder how such companies continue to justify their existence.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated September 2, 2012 - 8:08pm

Could you repeat that?

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this September 2, 2012 - 8:39pm

Dwayne, if there was a 'like' button on your comment, I would click it. 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated September 2, 2012 - 9:07pm


Semi-serious thought though, is it so bad if it is something you literally won't ever be able to get in a fashion that pays the people who worked for it? Older back list stuff that as near as you can tell won't ever be reprinted or ebooked. Buying it from a used bookstore won't help them, it doesn't seem to be on Amazon, etc. I'm not saying it is or isn't, just a thought.

I hope the term 'ebooked' doesn't take off, but at the same time I hope it does.

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this September 2, 2012 - 9:19pm

That's an interesting point, about the backlist stuff. The main thrust of the publishing company I work for is taking out-of-print books and putting them out digitally. A lot of authors who haven't earned money on these books in a very long time, they're quite happy to be getting checks again. 

At the same time, there are millions of books that are out of print and they will never be ebooked (a phrase I just now trademarked). 

And I've spoken to authors who are a little sensitive about used bookstores--they're happy to be read, but a little disappointed that people are buying their work and they're not seeing anything from it. 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated September 2, 2012 - 10:10pm

I understand some are happy to get anything from titles they though had sold their last copy years ago, and I can see why someone in the process of that would think you should just wait till it's ebooked so you don't mess up their mellow. I was referring to the authors who didn't get/realize they got the rights back (which amazes me with how common it is). Really the whole questions is a academic debate because from what I understand most of their works aren't in functioning torrents.

razorsharp's picture
razorsharp from Ohio is reading Atlas Shrugged September 3, 2012 - 9:48am

Rob, you fail to take into account the most important thing here: Are copyright holders entitled to the government enforcing an artificial scarcity of their goods?

All the points you brought up were quaint. They all depend on a greater premise: That information can be owned in the same way that physical things can be owned. You can't make the argument that copyright infringement is wrong unless you first make several other arguments (which you failed to do). You have to successfully argue that property rights are justified. You have to successful argue that these property rights extend to information. Then you have to take expedience into consideration: When any digital material can be copied in a matter of seconds, is it really practical to try and stop it (we could stop all crime if we stationed a police officer in every house)? Does copyright enforcement not violate more rights than copyright infringement?

Perhaps technology has changed our economic model so that relying on copyrights to make a living is just a bad career choice. Maybe copyrights were never a good idea in the first place (I'm sure many a libertarian would agree with that idea).

Pirating digital content is only stealing because it's legally defined as such. What you're afraid of is what happened to the music industry: People found out that quality music isn't scarce, and once the cost of replication became almost negligible the big record companies no longer served any useful function. Gee, I wonder why would, Rob 'I work in the publishing industry' Hart would have a problem with this same thing happening to the publishing world.

I can't find the quote online and I don't have the book with me, but Vonnegut wrote a wonderful line in Deadeye Dick that goes along the lines of, "The greatest delusion that every artist has is this insane idea that what they do is important and of a great value to society." Copyright is the legal extension of this delusion. Just because writing a novel is hard doesn't mean you deserve to get paid for it.

Just to clarify: I'm not arguing in favor of piracy. I'm just pointing out that this article completely fails to make a logical argument. It sounds like Metallica during the Napster uproar. Copyright was originally designed to prevent others from profiting off of one's work - i.e. preventing a competing publisher from printing my novel a week after it comes out. It wasn't designed to prevent free distribution. It wasn't designed to make questionable claims like equating the loss of a potential profit to the loss of an actual profit. The digital world has thrown such a curveball at the copyright system that it's impossible to view these things through an old-world lense without looking like a jackass the way Lars Ulrich did about a decade ago. Face it, the copyright system can't account for digital distribution and the rules need to be rewritten because enforcing the old system on the modern world is impossible.

nosferotica's picture
nosferotica September 5, 2012 - 8:19pm

Ok, I have a huge problem with this, and maybe it's just because of the way I think of the way things were back then.

I remember renting a vhs tape at the video store.  Watch the movie, record it, send it back.  Apparently that's theft.

I remember borrowing cds or tapes from friends, copying it, and giving it back.  I also remember buying each of those cds when I have the chance.

Nowadays, recording songs from the radio would be considered copyright theft.

WMG was going around and silencing audio tracks on youtube if their music was playing in the background, as well as vocal covers of people who were just trying to be recognized for their singing talent.  Was I wrong to think that once upon a time this had more to do with someone trying to earn a living off someone else's work?  Now they are giving fan fic writers hell.

What it comes down to is they don't want anyone hearing or seeing anything for free anymore.

Was I stealing for visiting my dad and recording movies off HBO or Showtime?  If I'm playing music loud enough to be heard out the window is that copyright infringement?

Does theft no longer mean that I have your property and you don't have it anymore?  Wouldn't copyright theft mean that I stole your copyright, which is no longer in your possession? 

I suppose there will come a day where nobody has permission to listen to music if they don't own a copy of the song or cd in question.  I actually have a video teacher that won't borrow movies because it's copyright infringment.

This crap has gone crazy.  You cannot say this is sane behavior, and it is impossible to keep up with all this stuff.  Folks need to learn when they are fighting losing battles.  They are just spitting into the wind and pissing off a lot of people that will make it a point to "steal" from them in the future.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated September 6, 2012 - 8:08am

Well guys it is illegal and some folks do support the rule of law, even ones they disagree with. If you have a logical reason why it is okay to break the law in a none protest way I'd love to hear it. Otherwise you're just saying, "I did this and I'm not a horrible person." Which is fine, but it is emotional not logical. Nice guys commit crimes too.

Kirk's picture
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun September 6, 2012 - 8:40am

For me the issue is really simple here.

Do I want to take away the ability for creative people to make a living?

The fact is, books, music, movies, etc have added a lot to my life and the people who made them deserve a reward. As a result I buy these things. The truth is, 99% of these creative things that have been important to me over the years only made it into my hands because someone took the risk to release them and they did so with the hope of making some money. I can't even begin to imagine all of the music I would have never heard if someone didn't try to distribute and market it.

That said, the real problem here, as I see it, is that unlike movies and music, authors have no other source of revenue from their creative works if you decide that you simply don't need to pay for them.

If you don't buy a band's album but go see them in concert, you're still supporting them. If you go see a movie in a theater or watch it on HBO or Netflix, the studio is still getting paid. If you download a book, there is nothing that goes back to the author, ever.

If you're okay with that, that's your choice. Personally, I'm not and I would much rather have great authors writing books than taking jobs as accountants because, as Razorsharp put it, "relying on copyrights to make a living is just a bad career choice".

underpurplemoon's picture
underpurplemoon from PDX September 9, 2012 - 9:45am

Rob, I love you. I know I'm a little late, but better late than later. Thanks for a wonderful read this morning.

Allan Young's picture
Allan Young from Canada is reading Last Exit to Brooklyn, Chris Jericho - A Lions Tale, Twenty Mortal Murders from Canadas Past, Thus Spoke Zarathustra October 26, 2012 - 1:44pm

If you're an artist in any medium and are not making money let me tell you that it isn't because of online piracy, it's because no one likes your work. Not enough to pay for it anyway.

If you take away all the downloading, you still won't be rich, you still won't be able to cover the electric bill, the only difference will be, less people will be reading your stuff.

To the author of this article, I would love to see some numbers about how digital piracy hurts an aritists income. Everything I've seen shows that it only helps them.

I downloaded the band Opeth, in fact I downloaded every song they have ever made. They're not played on radio or on MTV, so I wouldnt have been exposed to them. I will download there music not knowing if it is good or not but I will no longer pay for music that Im unfamilair with (those days are over.) So, I've been listening to this band for the past ten years, I've seen them in concert many times, I've bought there shirts, I've bought a box set of all there music and I tell my friends about how great of a band they are. All thanks to digital piracy.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated October 26, 2012 - 2:29pm

That's a interesting view of economics Allan. So giving something away for free doesn't impact sales? I just don't think that holds up, although more and more I think of piracy as something people used to do. Between things like Spotify and Netflix it just doesn't seem worth the time.

Allan Young's picture
Allan Young from Canada is reading Last Exit to Brooklyn, Chris Jericho - A Lions Tale, Twenty Mortal Murders from Canadas Past, Thus Spoke Zarathustra October 26, 2012 - 3:19pm

Dwayne, giving away stuff for free is a quite effective method of marketing.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated October 26, 2012 - 7:46pm

It can be, in small limited/controled ways. I'm not aware of any product you can get free on demand that it doesn't affect sales.

Allan Young's picture
Allan Young from Canada is reading Last Exit to Brooklyn, Chris Jericho - A Lions Tale, Twenty Mortal Murders from Canadas Past, Thus Spoke Zarathustra October 29, 2012 - 6:27pm

Dwayne, the last paragraph of my first comment is a good example (at least I think so) of a product which is givin away for free (or rather can be taken for free) which actually increased profit.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated October 30, 2012 - 5:16am

Except for when insanely rich music stars went after fans I'm not really sure there are any examples of the general populace supporting pirates. 

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... January 18, 2013 - 1:12pm

I can't find the quote online and I don't have the book with me, but Vonnegut wrote a wonderful line in Deadeye Dick that goes along the lines of, "The greatest delusion that every artist has is this insane idea that what they do is important and of a great value to society." Copyright is the legal extension of this delusion. Just because writing a novel is hard doesn't mean you deserve to get paid for it.

First of all, an absolute from a work of fiction is not the best basis for an argument. Second of all, copyright is less the legal extension of a delusion than a way to ensure people get paid for their work. I don't think that people who design purses or serve me my meal at fancy restaurants are performing a duty "of a great value to society," but that doesn't mean those people shouldn't get paid. A book is not information. It is a product. And the fact that said product is a want and not a need only bolsters the argument that you should have to pay for it.

It's also probably worth mentioning that art takes more than effort: it takes time. It takes skill. And if people no longer compensate artists for taking the time and effort to use their skills to create a work of art, there is a certain chance that the quality of art will decline. It takes money to make Breaking Bad or Django Unchained and time to write The Sense of an Ending. If you seriously enjoy any of those or anything that requires time or money to create, you should feel not just willing but obliged to pay.

As for Allen Young's stupidity, Kelly Thompson lost about five grand despite her book's being purchased by about a thousand people.

Kirk hit the nail on the head:

Do I want to take away the ability for creative people to make a living?

If the answer is "no," then you should oppose piracy. If the answer is "yes," then what the hell are you doing on this site?

Eilidh Somerville's picture
Eilidh Somerville February 8, 2013 - 7:50am

What if content is only available in the form of television recordings that are distributed online? I was recently watching the original Batman series on British channel ITV4. It stopped all of a sudden about two-thirds of the way into season three. The unbelievable reason? They only bought eighteen episodes! The show isn't available on DVD, is nowhere to be seen on legit streaming services, and can only be seen by buying unofficial DVDs that have been recorded from television, or through downloading television recordings. Where does the law stand on that one?


And what about geo-locking? That is when content is only available to a certain country. What if the content is never made available anywhere else on DVD, on television, etc? Why should people have to put up with that when there are other means of watching available? Companies aren't missing out on any money because they haven't made their material available to international users. 


The entertainment industry should be working with viewers instead of agianst them. They need to stop messing about with viewers by only only acquiring a certain number of episodes of a series. They need to stop barring international users from seeing content. They also need to stop region coding DVDs and Blu-Rays. If something is made available, then it should be made availabe everywhere. They also need to stop all the petty arguing about their rights. What about the viewers rights?


It's no wonder so many people donwload when the industry puts up as many barriers.

Bruce McCrann's picture
Bruce McCrann March 22, 2013 - 7:23pm

Read this and dare to tell me that my illegal torrent downloading is in any way immoral.

Firstly, a brief overview of the reason piracy exists. Piracy is not a disease, but a symptom. The studios have created a market for piracy and are feeding its flames themselves so there's no moral issue against pirating as long as the studios refuse to sell the films and shows to us themselves. Films are withheld from sale, not for just weeks but for years(literally), and the ones that are sold digitally are overpriced compared to physical media but lacking any of the legal ownership rights that physical media grants. Netflix is now making more money than itunes in America. That's Netflix that charges $9 a month for all you can eat streaming (or whatever its price is over there. Im a uk resident so I just know it as £6/month here)  instead of up to $20 per film like on itunes and yet that $9 is earning netflix more cash than apples $20 per film price tag. Do the math on that. It's a fraction of the price and it has a limited range of program's but it makes more money than itunes. Why? Because people will always prefer to pay for a good convienient service over tiresome, complicated and time consuming pirate downloads if they can. People flock to Netflix because they want to buy rent or subscribe to media legally. They just want a good service and a fair price. The reason people pirate is because the industry forces them to by limiting what they can buy and then overcharging them for it when they do drip feed them sub-par quality content. If people weren't willing to pay for films legally then why is Netflix making so much money when it charges such a tiny fee and why is it growing at a currently unstoppable rate? It's no good saying well its not a fair system but we have to live with it because that's the law we have. The law exists to serve us not the other way around. If the corporations and the current laws are failing us then it is up to us to challenge them and  change them, the law and the companies, not arrest people for breaching a law that is not serving its purpose. Piracy is not a disease. Piracy is a symptom.

Now to my main point that i dare anyone to argue is immoral in any way. I have bought lord of the rings on DVD and again on bluray and have paid numerous times over at the cinema and would like to buy it digitally too but in the UK there is nowhere you can buy lord of the rings digitally so I downloaded a copy of the films in HD from a torrent website. This is a film trilogy that is over a decade old and one of the biggest film franchises on the planet, not some minor arthouse flick or a new release that just hasnt hit the shops yet so what rational justification is there for not allowing its sale if you were to take the digital rights restrictions tha are presumably resonsible for its lack of availability out of the picture? There is none. I'm not taking money from anyone because no one is selling the film. I pay monthly for a cinema unlimited-access-pass and for Netflix and lovefilm and cable tv and the bbc TV license fee and buy films and series on itunes and blinkbox streaming services and sometimes on DVD or bluray too. I am already contributing more of my income than I can strictly afford to supporting the arts as it is and if someone then tells me I'm immoral just because I temporarily borrow a copy of a film off a file sharing website because there's no other way I can physically get a digital copy of that specific material then I can't help but ask what planet they're living on or what logic they're trying to apply.  As soon as they sell the film on itunes in HD I will happily buy the trilogy but until then I will make do with the illegal copy as an interim solution. I don't like the illegal copy. It's complicated to have to transfer it to the TV or onto my ipad etc via a computer and would rather pay for it on iTunes but its not for sale. For now I make do with my bluray but would like it in HD digitally, or in any quality digitally for that matter.

It's the moral equivalent of borrowing a lawn mower from a neighbour because no one will sell you a lawn mower despite you wanting to buy and pay for one but being told that you're not allowed to buy one then arresting me for daring to borrow and use a lawn mower I've not paid for.

As soon as lord of the rings is for sale ill buy it buy why should I be made to feel like a criminal because I'm borrowing something off a file sharing website until its made available for me to buy properly for myself? You can't refuse to sell something to a whole country then complain when they start finding ways to get it on the 'black market'. Once that black market has been set up people get used to using it and it becomes established because they can trust it, unlike the studios and retailers. Whos to blame? I want to buy it and pay for it, despite the fact that ive already paid for it several times over but im not allowed to buy it because its not for sale in digital format. sell the content properly at a low price to everyone on all formats in all territories and people will flock to buy but drip feed lower quality products on limited platforms and devices and with limited ranges of content available and combine into that the legal nonsense that says you don't even technically own any of the digital content you've bought despite paying more for it that you would for a bluray copy and of course people and going to be distrustful and reluctant to stump up the money. Make digital ownership the equivalent of physical media ownership in legal terms. Allow someone to transfer ownership of an ebook or itunes film from their account to another persons account as if they were lending a Blu-ray Disc or book to a friend. They lose it from their purchase history and digital ownership and their friend gains ownership until they choose to transfer ownership back, if they do. Ideas like this would revolutionise the digital market and people would trust the system and know they were being treated fairly and buyng something real that they could value and afford. The current system allows for monopoly practice and market manipulation that would be illegal on the high street but because its online it goes unregulated by the fair competition commision because the people who makes the laws don't comprehend the issue.  Stop refusing to sell people films they want to buy, stop telling people they can't watch their film on the television they want to watch it on, stop overpricing films to the point that people can't afford them and piracy will become redundant.  If all content is made available then people will buy it but if content is constantly restricted, made unavailable completely or available with limited functionality or in lower quality then of course people will look for a better source. You wouldn't buy fruit off someone in a back alley because its available in the shops at a god price and generally decent quality, but if all the shops stopped selling fruit or started selling only poor quality shrivelled fruit at expensive prices and even then only a limited range of some fruits but not others and then you saw a market stall giving away pristine quality fruit, every kind you could think of for free because they're growing more than they can eat and are just trying to get rid of it to people who are hungry just to be kind then who are you going to go to when your fruit bowl is empty? The shrivelled up expensive limited range in the shop or the succulent  limitless fruit on the stall? And if someonethe tells you that back alley fruit stall youre using is illegal because only the fruit in the big shop has been approved for sale would you accept that as morally logical and just? Precisely. That is the equivalent of digital piracy, not this fanciful analogy of piracybeing like robbing old ladies handbags and strangling the funding for businesses that will go bankrupt if its not stopped.

I have also downloaded numerous tv series from torrents because I couldn't afford to buy them or because I missed their air date and they weren't available to buy at all anywhere yet, or sometimes films that were taking too long to be released that I wanted to see. As those series or films have been made available on itunes I have bought and paid for them all despite already having the illegal copy because I would rather have the legitimate, high definition, icloud backed up and always available anywhere copy. The various tv series that I couldn't afford to buy at first all in one go I am slowly buying one by one as I can afford to do so, and the really expensive ones that i still can't considder buying on itunes are starting to appear on lovefilm and Netflix, both of which I also legally and willingly pay for. If they don't appear there and itunes stays too expensive then I will make do with the pirated copies for now. If I can't find a copy of an expensive series that I can't afford the. I make do without seeing it. I don't buy something I can't afford just because I can't find a cheaper copy. If I can't afford it then I borrow it off a friend or don't see it at all. Piracy is the equivalent of borrowing a DVD off a friend until you can buy something for yourself. It's not stealing because its a copy of somethig not the original. You steal a book and you have taken the book away from the person you've robbed, you copy a book and the original owner still has their book so nothing has been stolen. If the only reason you're copying it is because you can't afford to buy it otherwise then you're not depriving the author of anything either because without the copy you wouldn't have been able to buy it legitimately anyway so no one has lost anything. And in my case the shows are largely from the BBC which I have paid for through my continuing licence fee subscription and that same fee will continue to fund new programs being made as well so no one is losing money or profits from me not buying every single series right away digitally. Most tv series I have already bought on DVD at some point as well as paying for their production in the first place with my licence fee money. I will pay for the digital copies when I can too but for now I can't and downloading them is faster than converting my DVDs to digital files. Feeling youre entitled to a digital copy of something you physically own and have paid for is not the same as owning a digital copy then insisting on having a free DVD or book from a shop shelf because that physical copy you are asking for has had to be made and printed and transported and stocked into the shop and that whole process of manufacture and retail has to be funded whereas a digital copy costs virtually nothing once its been uploaded onto the web so expecting a free digital copy of something you've bought physically is not the same as expecting a free physical copy of something you've bought digitally at all as this original article bafflingly tried to argue. I'm not claiming handing out free digital copies of things is a practical solution but morally there is no grey area here.

The law in the uk now states it is legal to make digital reproductions and copies of media you own for your own purposes and legal to transfer media copies from one format to another for your own personal use so downloading a digital copy from the internet of a DVD you already own is simply a faster way of making that copy than actually trying to copy and convert the DVD itself into a digital file yourself. You are not allowed to circumvent copy protection on media so the law is still a slight contradiction of itself, saying you have a legal right to make a copy but not the right to go past copy protection. Clearly these are early days and the logic of these laws has not been fully thought through yet. If I have the legal right to make a copy then putting copy protection on a DVD or bluray is now an infringement of my legal right to make that copy. Clearly more work needs doing to. Hammer out this new generation of copyright laws for the digital age but in the meantime downloading my copy of my legally bought dvd from a torrent is a quick way of claiming my legal right to own a second copy of my DVD in whatever format I choose to make it.

But returning to the morality of downloading torrents of tv series, I've paid for the shows to be made with my subscriptions and monthly fees. I've paid for many, indeed most, already on DVD as well and when I can I will pay for them digitally too. The few shows that are not available digitally at all I've downloaded as torrents until they are made available because there is no other option, regardless of how much money I have to spend. And for the some that are too expensive to buy, especially considering I've already bought them on DVD, I will make do with the pirates for now because I couldn't afford the digital copies so no one is losing any business by my not buying them as I wouldn't be ableto the anyway. As soon as they are affordable, due to price reduction or due to my having more money I will pay for them on itunes. I am not stealing anything that I haven't already paid for on some other format and I am not avoiding paying for anything that I can afford to pay for. Should I lose the digital torrent copies I have I will make do without owning the shows at all because I cannot afford them for now anyway so no increased sales are going to arise from all piracy stopping tomorrow as far as I'm concerned. 

Now you tell me. Where is the moral problem there?  I pay huge sums of money into the movie and music and tv and book industry as it is and will continue to do so to the best of my ability. I only torrent what is unavailable to buy any other way. The few shows I cannot afford to buy are being borrowed via torrent until I can afford to buy them, which I will do as soon as I can afford to do so. The authors and program makers are receiving all the money I can afford to give them and noones having anything 'stolen'. No possessions are being deprived from anyone, No business is losing out on sales from me because they're not selling the things i torrent in the first place or else I wouldn't be torrenting them. I will spend more money if they sell the items I want to buy, up until the limit of what I earn and have to spend. So where is the theft? Where is the lost business? Where is the person that I have wronged in any way? Clearly there is no moral or ethical breach here so trying to claim that all file sharing is theft or wrong is just a flawed and misguided argument. It's also missing the point of the piracy problem, which as I said twice in the first paragraph is not that people are or can pirate media. The problem is that they want to pirate media. China has a thriving business in fake goods but it still has a thriving business in genuine goods too. The fake designer handbags are being sold in shop stalls right on the same street as the genuine designer shops because the only reason to buy fake is if you can't afford the real thing in the first place so the existence of fake goods doesn't damage the sales of the genuine article because the buyers are people whi would otherwisesi oly not buy anything at all. So long as everyone knows its fake when they buy it and the reputation of the real thing is not thus damaged by cheap goods being blamed on expensive manufactures then both businesses thrive. Brand protection is the only concern, not copyright issues. Rich people don't want the fakes and poorer people couldn't afford the expensive stuff so neither business is losing out by the other business running side by side. It is the same with media piracy. People will buy legally if they can and the only reason to buy fake is if they cannot affor the real thing or the real thing imply isn't being sold at all. No one is losing out. The lesson is not to arrest the pirates, it is to make the real thing more available and more affordable so that piracy is no longer needed.

People will always choose the most convienient option so long as they can afford it, in any business or lifestyle situation. Piracy exists because companies are trying to censor what we have a right to own with digital distribution contracts that are damaging the profitability of the film tv and book industry. Or they are out pricing people from the market. Is censorship any less damaging if done for business reasons rather than for reasons of social  repression? Less coherent in its agenda perhaps but the overall effect of censorship resulting in restricted media access is still the same whether it happens as a result of random business interests or as the result of political agenda. If you do not believe in censorship then you cannot support the current system of digital distribution or rebuke torrent file sharing for attempting to redress the imbalance that the media distribution restrictions cause.  Evidence that piracy control has boosted film sales is sketchy and unreliable at best. Statistics can be made to show anything you want if the right person is collating them, by only including the factors and variables that make the results look favourable. People get pirates because they can't afford the original, in which case the studios wouldn't make any money from stopping it because the people don't have the money to spend in the first place, or people pirate because material isn't being sold at all, in which case the studios are shooting themselves in the foot by refusing to sell their product and distribution is the problem not piracy. They think cable deals are lucrative? How much more lucrative would it be making piracy redundant to the point that it dies out by making every show easily available on any format from any source all for a low and reasonable price and all in HD as standard? We're in a transitional phase with the digital age but everyone can see the anti piracy speech is just fat cat propaganda. It takes time for the business model to change from broadcast channels and physical media to a system of digital distribution and until the transition is complete nothing will be perfect. That is understandable but piracy is not the problem. It is simply the publics way of trying to ease the transition until the new business model takes a more coherent and sustainable shape. It is not the file-sharers that need demonising. It is the movie studios that need our disapproval for failing the consumer and making digital piracy necessary in the first place.  Anyone with a brain can tell that most, not all but most, people would happily buy films etc legally if they could but currently they are being restricted, by availability, or lack thereof, of shows being put out there to be bought or being overpriced to the point that no one could afford them anyway. And what makes more money, itunes selling movies at $15-20 a time or Netflix selling unlimited films for just $9 a month all in? Overpricing media is losing the industry billions of dollars a year. Drop the prices and unleash the availability and profits would treble instantly. People dont want to pirate. It's fiddly and time consuming and all your acquisitions come unguaranteed and need duplicating and backing up on fragile expensive hard drives and it takes time to copy or connect devices together to consume what you've downloaded. People don't want to do any of that. But the studios are forcing them to do it because they're not giving them an alternative. Clouding the issue by trying to argue that stealing someone's wallet is the same as copying a film off the Internet is nonsense and you know it is dear author. Digital Piracy is not theft. The studios have created the piracy industry and if its losing them money then its up to them to create a better alternative, not blame someone else for trying to solve the problem the industry created themselves. You can't make the movie industry more profitable by blaming piracy any more than you can cure skin cancer by going shopping for makeup. You can make it look pretty and healthy for a while by blaming the symptom and pretending there's nothing wrong underneath but its not going to fix the problem until you bin the makeup and treat the underlying problem.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated March 22, 2013 - 8:03pm

@Bruce - It's immoral. Seriously, if you want to talk about it that is cool, but I'd start a new thread. No one has posted here in a while.

APEGamer's picture
APEGamer April 3, 2013 - 3:46pm

I created an account to post here because the Game of Thrones just broke a new record for pirated downloads. This upset me because I turned HBO on specifically for GoT. Should I feel stupid for being a legitimate HBO subscriber? Actually HBO is free for three months, so I plan to turn it back off after GoT ends, but I know people that can get the same free deal and STILL pirate the show rather than sign up legitimately. What does THAT say about the argument that people download illegally because content is too expensive?

I also wanted to add my support to the point that if a company owns a property, then it has the right to determine how that property is distributed, set subsription fees, etc. If you don't like those policies, don't use the product/service. Period. Period! When you have a product/service to sell, we'll let you decide how to distribute it.

I'm happy to see that the electornic game industry has figured out a way around this by creating 'always online' games. I'm not happy that I need to be online, but I do have a sense of 'good for them' that they've largely found a way around the piracy issue.

I'll end by saying that I'm a publisher trying to make ends meet selling board and card games. Fortunately for me, these are largely impractical to copy, but I can definitely empathize with small digital publishers.


Alex Kohlenmann's picture
Alex Kohlenmann June 25, 2013 - 4:59am

im suprised no one mentioned convenience. with movies and videogames the paying customer has to jump through hoops (unskippable trailers, always online requirement). if pirates offer a better package people will use it. steam brought a lot to convenience to PCs. its the main reason i started to pay for games and i now even buy indie games just to support the developers for releasing their games without drm. unskippable trailers are a fucking joke and the big studios deserve to get punished for that. "but its stealing" its actually still there i just copied it. i am a bad person. also most of the stuff i used to pirate i would have never gotten if i had to pay for it.

jklinked's picture
jklinked August 17, 2013 - 7:40pm

Ok, not a bad argument against piracy, but you are missing pretty wildly on a few key points.

"An eBook is a luxury, not a right. If you can't afford it, too bad, but that's life. If you go to Target and they have a flatscreen television you like, but you can't afford it, can you just take it? No."

Nope, you are right. You can't just take it. What is your buddy had one just like it, and he had the tools, parts and know how to copy it exactly and give it to you for free out of good will. Can you take it then? Sure, it's not exactly legal, but so is a lot of stuff I have no doubt you've done. Have you ever borrowed a DVD from friends or relatives? That's illegal now, y'know. 

"An eBook is a luxury, not a right. If you can't afford it, too bad, but that's life."

Then who in your mind, is the person you are talking to hurting? Someone who could afford it only shared it with them. How is that a loss of revenue or damage, if you just said yourself, "... you can't afford it, too bad, but that's life."?

Piracy is sharing, not theft... dipshit. Your little motto should be, "Piracy is a luxury, not a right."

Olly Kilo's picture
Olly Kilo October 19, 2013 - 12:57pm

Why not just figure out a way to monetize piracy?

On another note, is using adblock when visiting websites the same as piracy?