Claim: Piracy is just like competition: both can drive you out of business; piracy should be legal, just like competition

This claim is often paired with a claim along the lines of: “stores don’t like competition, they’d like the government to prevent all competition. Piracy is exactly the same: a kind of competition, and creators want to outlaw it just like stores want to outlaw any competition to their businesses. We shouldn’t outlaw competition – that’s just something that self-serving business owners want (like a kind of corporate welfare) and it’s not good for society. Similarly, we shouldn’t outlaw piracy. That’s just corporate-welfare for creators.”.

Response: There is a major difference between competition (e.g. when a company opens a store near yours and drives you out of business) and piracy. The difference is outcome. When I say “outcome”, I’m not limiting that to the outcome for my business, but the outcome for society as a whole.

If I own a store and Walmart comes and opens near me, I might not like it, and I might go out of business, but what happens is this: people vote with their dollars which store will stay in business. In the end, I might go bankrupt, but society will have the thing that they voted for: Walmart. Walmart will still be there to sell them goods. It will still be there to serve the public. It’s ‘survival of the fittest’ economics – the key being that the ‘fittest’ survive.

The problem with piracy is that it can drive the entire industry into the ground. The end result being that society doesn’t end up with what they want – they end up with nothing (as far as the creation of digital-media is concerned). From this standpoint, piracy is more similar to shoplifting. If rampant shoplifting is allowed in society, then no stores can exist, and the public will end up worse-off in the long run. This is similar to piracy: it drives all digital-media creators into the ground, leaving the public worse-off in the long run.

Related Anti-Piracy Article:

Piracy Is Not Competition

“When brick-and-mortar bookstores complain about the threat they face from, they are complaining that customers will leave them for a superior alternative; when Hollywood complains about piracy, they are complaining that customers have left them for an illegal alternative. They have stopped paying for Hollywood products yet are still consuming them. These are not even remotely similar situations — morally, legally, or economically.” (National Review)

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