We Shoot Pirates, Don’t We?
I have a bone to pick. I am really tired of people claiming that it’s ok to steal something if it’s not available fast enough. Since when is convenience a reasonable defense in a court of law?
“Your honor, I do realize that I stole those diamond earrings from Tiffany but if I had had to earn that money it would have taken years!”
For me, it started with a conversation I had with someone at brunch a few months ago telling me that he liked using torrents because the download speed was faster than iTunes. He made the argument that it was an issue of convenience and if only the world provided him a legal means to get the same level of service he would pay for it. After discussing the ethics of it (and largely not agreeing) I then posed the question: “Well, if you could pay to get that service, would you?”
He paused and we both knew what he was thinking. Then he admitted:
“Probably not. Why should I?”
And this is what concerns me. It’s a slow, inexorable move towards a culture that believes they are entitled to steal media or, more problematically, they believe that media is not something that is worth paying for. If we do not pay for content then the creators of that content cannot continue to create and the content will dry up. Our society’s creative output will be starved due to our laziness and our thievery. People argue that it’s because they don’t feel bad stealing from “the big media companies” but in fact, by allowing this we are digging our own grave. Every filmmaker who is going to get their work out there on the DIY circuit, who is going to do VOD, and DVD (or blu-ray, or whatever), and try to make a living, or at least be compensated for people’s viewing their art, is going to be out of luck. After all, they are now indistinguishable from the “big media companies”. Do you think the torrent-freak stops to think whether a given title came from Fox, or from you?
If you think they do, then you’re kidding yourself.
The latest outrage for me is this absurd article in Slate magazine by the dopey Farhad Manjoo (I assert his dopiness based on the fact that he is a ‘technology columnist’ and has a blog that doesn’t lay out properly in a state of the art browser like Safari 4).
We have to take a stand against this people. Here is a journalist, in a major magazine, telling everyone that it’s ok to steal if you can’t get just what you want, the way you want it (and if that way is ‘free’, then you should be entitled). It’s arrogant. It’s illegal. It’s amoral.
Here is the note that I sent him: