Ever since I started using the internet, I hear the word piracy or copyright infringement every now and then. I don’t need to explain the term to you in detail. But in a nutshell, you’re doing copyright infringement if you are not using someone’s creation according to the rules prescribed by the creator and law.
For most of the copyright holders, you’re infringing their copyright if you’re not paying for their content. And that’s right, they are not on the wrong side of the piracy debate.
One thing that comes to my mind, why people do piracy? Why do they pirate software or download movies and music from illegal sources? It can’t be about money all the time.
People cling onto torrent websites like The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents. It’s common but not obvious that all of them might be having intentions to download music, movies, tv shows, and software for free. There may be other compelling reasons as well.
Production houses and software companies charging money for their creation is the most common reason why people do piracy, and it fuels the biggest torrent websites in the world. People just want the movies and tv shows for free. And they are quick enough to grab the opportunity facilitated by the torrent websites and other online platforms. This causes financial damage to the content creators.
Not all the online pirates out there are doing it just because they don’t want to pay money for the content they want to consume. Some of them may not be in the position to purchase it.
A considerable example is of Adobe Photoshop, a name synonymous to photo editing, just like the iPod was for every music player in the past. Photoshop doesn’t come cheap, so, some people prefer obtaining it from elsewhere.
The defenders of copyright infringement would say, leave it if you can’t afford it. One has to agree with that, you can’t just download a premium software for free just because you can’t afford it. Would it be wise for a person to steal a Rolls Royce? He won’t be able to save that much money in his entire life.
People won’t do such thing in fear of going to jail. Even, piracy could lead people to prison, but the chances of getting a strict punishment are quite less.
A supportive argument can be made that some of the pirates might become Photoshop experts and eventually go on to purchase it in the future. But one can’t just take home an expensive guitar just because there is a possibility of him becoming a world-class guitarist in the future and fill his home with Les Pauls.
This is a major rationale why many people head to torrent websites with an intention to pirate software or other things. Mostly in the case of movies and tv shows, various content creators restrict the availability in some regions, and the population remains deprived of it. Some people, who are willing to pay, just can’t accept it and make efforts to fight against the discrimination.
If a friend says, hey there is this awesome TV show I have been watching lately in which people are fighting for a throne, a person might have the craving to watch it. He or she would immediately turn on the television to check the showtime but comes to know that the show doesn’t air in her country. The person would search for it on the internet and may be turned down by the restricted region tag.
If the friend keeps telling how good the show is, the person might end up downloading the tv show illegally.
Some production studios and software companies delay the availability rather than blocking the access to it. Some people don’t have the patience to wait till the content actually arrives in their region. So, they end up pirating the TV show or movie on from torrent websites.
A workaround would be virtually teleporting to the region where the content is available. You might have heard about people using VPN connections to watch Netflix US. Sadly, Netflix started blocking users who were trying to fake their locations. But still, it’s far better than pirated their content.
The motivation of such pirates lies in the distribution system of the content creators. For example, a particular tv show might be exclusive to cable networks, but a person is having a Netflix or Hulu plan. He might not go for a cable subscription just to watch a single show. He may end up finding it on torrent websites.
The shitty payment systems set up by online stores and streaming services like Apple iTunes and Netflix also adds to the misery of the people wanting to consume content legally. Most of these services require a credit card as a payment option and support for debit cards is quite limited.
Say, a not-so-popular low budget movie gets released, and it doesn’t feature any big Hollywood A-listers. Some people might want to watch it but aren’t sure if it would be good or not. Some may want to watch it only once. So, they decide to download the pirated movie torrent for it.
Similarly, if someone wants to recover data from a storage device, they might download a premium data recovery software from pirate websites. So, one of the reasons why people do piracy is because they only want to use the content for a limited number of times.
Some people justify their piracy hobbies by stating the fact that the production studio or the software company already has a huge bank balance and they won’t mind one person using their stuff for free.
Such people need to understand that the creators need the money to make more content in the future. If every person would tag themselves as that “one person using their stuff for free”, the companies would go bankrupt.
For instance, a person is downloading a pirated movie years after its release. He would give the reason that the movie creators have earned enough from the movie. They have made the profits and now it’s fine to get for free.
Maybe they’ve managed to fill hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in their pocket. It doesn’t give pirates the right to obtain their content illegally. However, the producers can offer it for free if they want. Although, in reality, they won’t do so because they’re greedy as well.
Some people have this go with the flow mentality. They know that they are pirating movies, tv shows, music albums, etc. and downloading them illegally but they justify their actions by saying that other people are also downloading illegal content.
Now, this is something that may sound like a WTF statement. How can a person not know that he or she is downloading the stuff illegally? But it’s true, individuals in technology and education deprived regions may not have enough knowledge about the copyright law and its infringement. They think that all the stuff available on the web is for free. They don’t know what’s legal and what’s illegal.
This list of reasons why people do piracy can be extended further. But we need to understand the gist of the situation. There can be a possibility that a person doesn’t have enough money, the movie he wants isn’t available in his region, he wants to watch it only once, or the software company has tons of cash. It doesn’t give a person a token to obtain that particular software, movie, tv show, or anything else using unlawful ways.
It isn’t correct to steal the stuff you can’t get legally. And here I am considering the fact that production houses do things that are quite irritating to the people. Anyways, for some people, it might not be a moral issue to obtain things illegally.
People think it’s fine to steal digital content. They don’t treat the digital content the same as they treat physical things. I am not including all the online population but there are a considerable number of folks with this mentality.
In the recent years, people have inclined more towards paid content. A major contribution has been given by audio and video streaming services. Netflix and Amazon announced global expansions this year and they are offering affordable plans in the newer regions.
Also, in the software industry, the open source ideology is gaining popularity. Many open source Linux distros are available for free regarding both money and freedom, unlike the closed source Microsoft Windows. Microsoft introduced a free upgrade offer for Windows 10, but it required people to have a genuine copy of previous Windows versions. But still, piracy is not going away any sooner.
It doesn’t matter how sincerely movies studios and content creators yell about the cons of piracy and show tears of sorrow, piracy has benefited them in some other the sense. Game of Thrones is the most pirated show on the planet. Piracy as contributed to the huge popularity of the tv show, even Time Warners CEO has acknowledged this thing it in the past.
I am not in favor of piracy, but can you guess dollars it would have been spent by HBO if they were to promote the show that many people. And possibly, more people might’ve gone for subscription plans after a self-realization.
With proper strategy, something fruitful can be extracted out of piracy. The creators of a TV show can earn money by selling merchandise of their highly pirated content. Fans would preferably go on to purchase the limited edition stuff even if they don’t want to pay for the content.
This post was originally published on September 16, 2016. It has been later updated to add more content.
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