Note: This section is still under construction.
I see a lot of comments on websites justifying piracy and attacking copyright. Personally, I believe piracy will make the world a worse place by undermining the economics that support the creation of new works. This section explains the economics of digital media creation, why piracy is bad, and why the justifications for piracy fall short. I thought it would be useful to have counter-arguments to pirate claims in one place, instead of recreating them over and over. It’s also important to show that their arguments have been countered.
I do want to make one distinction: I divide pirates into two groups.
First, there are people who are legitimately poor. Maybe they’re in a third-world country. Maybe they’re students who don’t have a lot of money. Maybe they’re 12-year-olds who’s parents are too poor to buy them much. Maybe they’re unemployed and trying to save money. Maybe they’re sick or disabled and unable to work. In those cases, I tend to be more forgiving of piracy. If the a person’s options come down to: (A) not being able to pay and not getting the content or (B) not being able to pay and pirating the content, I tend to be forgiving towards those people if they pirate. I feel like I’m willing to turn a blind-eye to their piracy. When I think about these people, the phrase “blood from a stone” comes to mind. For example, a few years ago, Joystiq was would publishing articles about piracy, and one of the user comments said (and I’m paraphrasing), ‘To the game and music industries: I pirate, but it’s because I have no job and no money. When I start earning money, I promise I’ll start paying for my entertainment.’ I really had no problem with that comment. (There are some anti-pirates who will describe all piracy as theft, but I’m more forgiving in this situation.)
The second group is the people who earn money and can afford stuff, but they come up with all kinds of excuses for why they should be allowed to get everything for free anyway. I know people who make decent money, but they still pirate stuff. Some of their excuses are things like “why would you pay for something you can get for free?” (in other words: whether or not you’re rich doesn’t affect whether you should have to pay for your entertainment; it’s dumb to pay for stuff; you’re smart if you pirate everything you can pirate). I have friends who can afford to buy the latest and greatest laptops, $300 headphones, or drop $10,000 on home improvements, but they still feel the need to pirate stuff. Sometimes, when talk about piracy, it’s done in this “I’m so smart – I know how to get all this stuff for free” kind of an attitude. Sometimes they dress it up in justifications about how copyright is an infringement on free speech. This is the group that gets on my nerves. It’s this group that my complaints are aimed at.
I realize that many people won’t like me for writing this. I’ve gotten attacked or called an RIAA shill quite a few times for arguing that piracy is wrong and destructive.
Why Copyright Should Exist: The Economics of Digital Media Creation
Index of Pro-Piracy Claims
Piracy is what happens on the sea with ships. Copyright infringement isn’t “Piracy”.
Piracy isn’t theft. It’s like a big, magic store where you can get copies, but never remove the original
Piracy isn’t theft. Theft removes the original. Piracy copies it. (image)
Copying is not Theft [Nina Paley Video]
You can’t prove a pirate would’ve paid, so you can’t count piracy as a loss of income / Not every act of piracy is a lost sale
Piracy is Sharing [Richard Stallman]
Computers are designed to Copy
Everything is a copy/derivative of something else
Piracy is just like borrowing from a friend. That’s not illegal. Therefore, piracy shouldn’t be either.
Piracy is like not-buying. Not buying is legal, therefore piracy should be, too.
Piracy is like competition: both can drive you out of business; piracy should be legal, just like competition.
Piracy is just like buying a competitor’s product (you don’t get a sale either way); piracy should be legal, just like buying a competitors product is legal.
Creators should just be happy that people want to pirate their work
Copyright was created so England could enforce censorship
Copyright means a creator gets paid over and over for the same work