Some (meta) thoughts on piracy
I don’t post much on piracy on TDR. It’s still a sore topic and it’s been done to death. But last night I had an epiphany and I think I might have something original to add to the topic.
There’s a certain type of anti-pirate advocate that I’ve always found annoying. I finally figured out why I find them annoying, and it’s actually very simple. It turns out that this isn’t a philosophical disagreement, it’s not a matter of principle, and I’m not having an emotional reaction to doubts about my position on piracy.
I simply don’t like listening to people who whine about things beyond their control.
This led me to examine why they complain about it and why I don’t care, and I noticed a difference in mindset that I found interesting and wanted to share.
Richard Curtis penned a post yesterday that inspired this little soliloquy. The tone of his post is expressed in the opening paragraph:
Tim O’Reilly famously said, “Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.” That’s very witty, but anyone who’s had their property hijacked by pirates will fail to see the humor. Take Colleen Doran, a cartoonist and illustrator with hundreds of major credits. She would gladly opt for obscurity if it meant getting compensated for the 3000 hours of work stolen from her.
So here’s the thing about the piracy debate: there are 3 parties involved, not 2. The third party is neither pro nor anti piracy; we’re simply ambivalent. Piracy simply is, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
That’s the mindset of a certain part of the digital generation, though I suspect few have realized it. And I’m not just talking about pirates here; there are some content creators who have faced facts, accepted that they can’t do anything about piracy, and moved on. I’m saying that as a not just as a content consumer, but also as a content creator. I’ve been pirated before and while I do make minimal efforts to get the content taken down, I don’t get upset over it.
Piracy is a fact of life. You might as well complain about being caught in a rain storm (for all the good it will do).