This is my first in a series of posts exploring criticisms of file sharing. Before continuing, I'd like to stress something: These posts are not an attempt to defend myself or to provide a rebuttal to the criticisms of the anti-piracy crowd. What I'm attempting to do is take you through the thought process of a file-sharer. I'm hoping that with this information, you'll better understand how to bring a pirate back to the pay table.
There are several criticisms regarding file-sharing, some of which I can sympathize with. I've never made a movie, I've never written and rewritten a book, I've never recorded a song 15 times until it sounds perfect. I have no clue what it feels like to pour 2 years of challenging work into a commercial project just to have it freely available online before it's released to market. I can try to guess what it feels like, but I'm sure it wouldn't even come close. But you know what I do know? I know how to get people like me to buy it. Do you see any value in that?
Despite what the anti-piracy crowd thinks, I'm a reasonably intelligent person. You would think that someone who's not an idiot could be swayed by a compelling anti-piracy argument. What I'm hoping to show you is that the file-sharing community doesn't find these arguments as compelling as you think. It's not that we're stupid, we just disagree. For the tl;dr crowd: “We don't pirate for the lulz, we pirate because we feel taken advantage of by the content industry. Pirating is our way of leveling the playing field. Your criticisms of file-sharing, no matter how 'right' you think they are, are not compelling enough to make change happen.” Let's get started.
The most common criticism I hear is one of entitlement. Critics believe I feel I'm somehow entitled to all this content for free. I actually couldn't give you a valid argument for why I deserve anything for free, mainly because I don't feel I deserve anything for free. I do, however, feel entitled to be treated fairly, something content publishers have collectively failed at in recent times. Creators and publishers have been lacking the ability to extract money from me under their old methods, so I've embraced a way that works for me, by using piracy. The end result is basically the same, I buy what I like. The only real difference is I get to try out a lot of stuff before deciding what to buy. You might not like it, but it's reality.
Undoubtedly, some critics will read that previous paragraph and translate it to “the ends justify the means.” They will probably even come up with a few offline examples to prove how dumb it sounds. Heck, I'll even throw one out there: “We want a population of healthy people to reduce health care costs. We should kill any newborn child who doesn't weigh between X and Y pounds. It's ok because the ends justify the means.” The critics should now give me props for equating file-sharing with murdering children as this can only help their cause. SOCMA – Stop Online Child Murdering Act.
Critics, let me ask you this: If I felt entitled to free content, why do I go to the movies twice a month? Why do I buy every Humble Bundle? Why do I pay for cable TV and satellite radio? Why do I subscribe to a newspaper and several magazines? Why have I bought over 400 music CDs? Why did I donate to Pioneer One? Why do I own every season of Entourage on DVD? Why do I buy apps for my phone? Why did I buy Louis CK's movie? Why do I own two video games that I haven't even opened yet? Every single one of those things can be pirated on the internet, for free. I probably spend more on entertainment every year than most of the critics do. Forget being entitled, I feel damn near generous.
Next post: Ferrari too expensive? Steal it.