Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Piracy Talk

A recent episode of This Week in Media had a terrific discussion on Piracy.
Let me steal a few of those ideas and mix in some of my own.

When a product is reproduced without permission of the holder of the design rights, that product is said to be "counterfeited" or "pirated." In the digital world, the verb "pirate" means to distribute a digital copy of a rights-protected work.

It's a silly term.

I much prefer "unauthorized duplication" or "copyright infringement."

But the rights holders call it "piracy" so I'll use that term for this article.

Why does online piracy even exist?
I suggest three reasons:

Selfishness.
I know some people who engage in unauthorized duplication of rights-protected works because they just don't want to pay for it. This has been true since we had mechanisms for copying media. Software "pirates" would duplicate and distribute floppy disks. Others copied VHS tapes. Still others photocopied articles.

Generosity.
You get this cool thing you want to share with your friends. Remember GIFs of Playboy centerfolds? A lot of things in this category involved some effort on the person transforming the work into a distributable format: removing the copy-protection from a game, scanning the picture, digitizing the video. This sort of "social sharing" was a big issue for the music industry.