Revisiting Piracy

Almost exactly four years ago, I wrote an article right here at my blog about causes, concerns and possible remediation for the phenomenon called Piracy. Looking back at what I wrote, my understanding of the topic – or in many ways, the seriousness of the issue – has severely changed.

Flash-back <<

Let me first begin by correcting some of my earlier statements:

  1. “This form of piracy is acceptable to a certain degree; more like compassion shown upon a man who steals to save himself from dying of hunger.”

    No form of piracy/stealing is acceptable/pardonable.

  2. “…so heavily priced, is unreachable by us; and isn’t it like curbing our creativity if good software like that are not available to us for free (or a reasonable price…”

    Maybe when I wrote the article, there were not (or I wasn’t aware of) many cheaper or free alternatives to match the features of Photoshop – but now since there are so many; Curbing our creativity? – Seems silly to myself! (Besides, Photoshop still costs $999 😛 )

  3. “Sometimes, movie piracy is justifiable…”

    ‘Justified’ may not be the word – but I share my views with this Oatmeal comic.

  4. “Ban websites primarily targeting to provide downloads of pirated content…”

    I cannot believe I suggested this! Of course, I had not forethought how we go about determining what websites to ban and what not. I hope my earlier post was not an inspiration to PIPA/SOPA! I would dread that!

Fast-forward >>

Piracy = Stealing!

The problem with piracy is in stark contrast with the real-world stealing. Consider this scenario: You cannot afford a fancy cellphone. Do you go steal your friend’s phone? Any self-respecting person would say ‘No’.

Consider another scenario: Your friend bought the DVD of the Godfather movie. You love the movie – who does not? – and you borrow the DVD and watch it. The movie is so awesome you decide you want to watch it again sometime, so you make a COPY of it. Then you return the DVD. Tomorrow, one of your friends wants the movie and you oblige him another COPY. And thus it began..

At the end of the day (or a year), number of people who would have paid for the DVD would be exponentially out-numbered by the number of COPIES around.

Coming back to the discussion on the contrast between real-world theft and ‘virtual’ theft, if a person stole your cellphone, you’d ‘lose’ it. However, if a person COPIES your DVD, you wouldn’t lose anything right? That’s the problem with piracy, the people involved in the real act of stealing are not the ones suffering. Therefore there is lack of moral judgement (unfortunately) and sometimes people are honestly ignorant of the fact that downloading movies off P2P is illegal. It has become so rampant (considered normal) that it just seems OK.

In fact, there are some people who are convinced that piracy is not stealing, but ‘only’ copyright infringement and they can live with it. Only that they do not realize that copyright infringement is also theft! As long as there are weak minds which believe something like that, piracy will thrive.

That said, piracy can be eliminated (to a great, great extent) if means of acquiring something legally was as easy as pirating it. Big companies, instead of pouring time and money into never-ending legal disputes, must try to create a user-friendly, easy way for people to obtain something that many a time, they are ready to pay for, yet find themselves pirating because of the medium of obtaining it, is so tedious (so subtly depicted in the comic by Oatmeal).

Eliminating Piracy – A long shot?

Updated: Revisiting Piracy (24/01/2012)


Piracy basically is theft. Stealing can be broadly split into two kinds:

  • Stealing to fill one’s stomach.
  • Stealing for any other reason.

We are not talking of the sea-faring pirates, whose sins might just be pardonable when compared to the modern day pirates who follow a form of piracy more significantly put as copyright infringement.

Piracy: Why? (– Why not?)

Hunger here, signifies the inability to access content due to monetary or other situational constraints. This form of piracy is acceptable to a certain degree; more like compassion shown upon a man who steals to save himself from dying of hunger.

This form of piracy is practiced by ‘youth’. (Youth is a heavy word. Pardon me) The younger lot, of which I’m pretty much a part of, have a lot of things to spend on: weekend parties, fueling their vehicles, girlfriends, and a lot more! Wouldn’t it be obnoxiously painful to us when expected to pay for software too? And a few software like the Adobe Photoshop being so heavily priced, is unreachable by us; and isn’t it like curbing our creativity if good software like that are not available to us for free (or a reasonable price: $100? For the record, Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended costs $999! About 10 times the price I quoted for it!)

I’d say, the worst type of piracy is music. Most of the times, though the albums are reasonably priced, people tend to download them for free either from websites like ‘’, ‘’, ‘’, or thousands of other such websites. The P2P in itself may seem like an ‘innocent’ advancement in technology (–like the nuclear power plants, which also gave us the atomic bomb!) but it is surely helping the phenomenal rise in music Piracy.

Sometimes, movie piracy is justifiable. For instance, living in India, I have access to only a few hollywood movies that are released here, compared to a lot that gets released around the world. I’m not complaining about new movies which can be easily bought (and shipped) at some online store like Amazon; I’m actually thinking about good old movies, which are out of cinemas a long time ago and you cannot possibly find it on any online store (and even if you could, the search is never easy).

The most unfortunate form of piracy is the piracy of books. Writers put their heart and soul into their works and go through a lot of trouble which they truly deserve merit for.

Eliminating Piracy

Thinking of eliminating global piracy is like trying to be heard in a crowd of a million people. No matter how many initiatives you take to curb piracy, there will always be a ‘small’ group of people who would resort to piracy in any case. Reducing piracy is a more realistic goal that the ‘concerned people’ must take up, rather than aiming to eliminate it completely.

Here are a few suggestions I’d make:

  • Ban websites primarily targeting to provide downloads of pirated content. Trying to get the country (in which the server is located) to take action is a foolish way of trying to stop the culprits. Instead, all countries must come up with an agreement that a universal list of domains (and IP addresses) will be maintained by a non-government and non-profit organization, all of which must be banned from being accessible to public by all ISPs.
  • Governments must initiate the funding of good open source software especially the alternatives to the expensive ones in the market. This encourages people to create good open source software, and also urges many to use more open source applications.
  • 90% of all movies make their share of money within 15-24 months of their release. The film makers must come to an agreement that the movies must be made available for download (for free or for a reasonable price) after 24 months of its release. This not only ensures that the movies reach out to a bigger group of people, also guarantees that the movie isn’t forgotten very soon.
  • Urge software companies to create a ‘student’ version of all software that they make and it must be available for students for free, if used for non-commercial purposes.

All good things in life comes free; for everything else, there’s piracy!

Disclaimer: The links provided to certain websites are for knowledgeable purposes only and are not intended to promote piracy of any sort or any method.