Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stealing is not a right.

Last night, I was absolutely delighted to see the free Doctor Who PC game I've been waiting for was released.

I was equally horrified when I saw it wasn't available to people outside the UK. So I did what any amoral geek would do and found it on bitorrent.

However, what surprised me was his comment I read under the torrent:

"…what has been delivered here is a great service. This is what the internet is for. We should not tolerate digital bigotry from any source, be it any country on this planet. Thank you for sharing this."

Bigotry? Really? It's bigotry to only want people who actually pay the TV license fee that funds the BBC to play a BBC game? That's like saying it's bigotry for HBO or Starz to only allow subscribers to watch their programming.

This is an attitude I'm noticing more and more. I won't lie, back in my teens, I pirated the shit out of games, music and movies. Napster, Kazaa, Limewire, Bittorrent. In fact, between the ages of 15 and 18, I don't think I paid for a single game or piece of music. Of course, I used all the excuses…if it wasn't free, I wouldn't buy it, so technically I wasn't actually costing anyone anything. However, I was never under the impression that pirating stuff wasn't actually wrong.

It's weird today because if you look around bittorrent, you'll find a lot of people who somehow think piracy is some sort of right. It's really weird watching people trying to take the moral high ground over stealing people's work. Take the above comment. There's a guy on his moral high horse spouting off about 'digital bigotry' because a corporation wants to give content to its paying customers and not people who want it.

I don't like that attitude because pirating content is something I assumed people just grew out off. When I was a teen, I downloaded pirated games because I had no money and couldn't afford them. As an adult, I pay for my content because I can afford it now and I want to support the industry. Sure, there are some ways you can take the moral high ground, for example, I dislike games that have a ton of advertising in them. For example, in Mercenaries 2, the game world is filled with billboards that have advertisements downloaded to them over Xbox live. If I've paid $60 for a game, I shouldn't have to put up with ads too. I stopped buying Ubisoft games when Sam Fisher started making a point of chewing 'Airwaves' gum, complete with close-up of the package and the game world was covered in Sony and Nokia ads.

However, this new attitude that pirating content is a 'right' and that by doing so you're taking the moral high ground by 'sticking it to the man' isn't something you grow out of. I just find it totally unfathomable. In essence, it's like me calling Apple 'bigots' because they won't let me walk out of an Apple store with an iPad under my arm without paying.

Yes, piracy will always exist and it's been going on since long before the internet… but that doesn't mean doing so isn't wrong. I've said before that piracy doesn't hurt the industry as much as they think, simply because 1000 downloads doesn't mean 1000 copies would have been sold…for example, I bought the grand total of two CD's in my life before Napster came along and if the music hadn't been free, I wouldn't have bought it…but that doesn't mean I thought it was my 'right' to pirate it.

Piracy isn't the heinous crime it's represented as being, and the reaction of organizations like the RIAA is way out of line…but be under no illusions, kids, you're stealing content that people spent a lot of time and money creating…you absolutely do not have the moral high ground.

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