I know I’m wasting my time here because the entertainment giants have all stacked the decks in their favor and defined piracy as any activity that they don’t approve of, but just how many of these legally defined pirates profit from their activity? How many of them would have the money to pay for the entertainment that they share for free? How many people will have their abilities to function in today’s world hampered by these bumbling attempts to stop something that wouldn’t exist were the content simply made available when desired at a reasonable price?
Aren’t these media conglomerates simply shooting themselves in the foot, alienating potential future customers with harassment? The music industry has been forced to the table, and the low per-song price through iTunes and Amazon is the result of their capitulation to the new information reality we live in. The instantaneous access to information that the average user demands. The savviest of new bands now offer their music directly from their websites, and even offer free songs to draw people in. They do this because they know that their audiences want more access, more music, and they want it right now, not after they visit a store and make a purchase. Get your music from the source, cut out the middleman.
What piracy remains in the musical realm is the corporate properties that haven’t learned to play ball, want to charge more and won’t put their libraries online. Study after study has shown this; that if the content is available, people will pay for it. I balk at being forced to buy music libraries a third time (once on tape, once on disc, and again on unprotected mp3) I will still go to torrent sites to pick up copies of music that I’ve already paid for twice. However, with the emergence of remastered music that is of superior quality to CD, even I am admitting that I may have to buy the music again, for a fourth time.
No, the yelling and screaming about PIRACY! comes from the MPAA and corporate television entities these days. They still haven’t figured out that the game has changed. When the average movie goer starts boycotting corporate films and embraces independent content (something that is already beginning to occur) maybe they’ll figure it out.
If I download a song, never listen to it, and then delete it, have I profited? If I download a movie or television show, if I pay for a subscriber service, can’t access it, and then download a torrent copy of the exact show I already paid for, but then don’t watch or listen to any of it, have I stolen anything? The corporate property owners say you have, and you are a pirate. I’d simply like them to prove how the temporary existence of a file on a computer system represents anything other than a cost, not a benefit. If I can’t be shown to have even watched or listened to the files in question, but the files belong to the corporation that objects to their existence, I’d say they owe me storage fees for holding the information for me. But I’ll happily wave the fees and simply delete the files. Let’s see how many checks show up in the meantime.