It’s Time For An Honest Discussion About Piracy
It’s been a big couple of weeks for pirates (the internet kind) in both Australia and abroad. Game Of Thrones had its first handful of new episodes leaked out into the world, sending fans into an absolute frenzy and igniting torrents around the globe.
This all happened just after the Dallas Buyers Club incident – a court case that will either work out to be a scare tactic, a massive bluff, or the beginning of everyone getting their pants sued off. Yay!
Piracy is a cultural phenomenon. It's not just for the nerds or the internet-savvy, it's something your parents know how to do. Because when you don't really think about it, piracy is awesome. It’s a cheap and easy way to get all forms of entertainment. And when you’re knee-deep in uni debt, or getting by on Centrelink payments, laying down a portion of your money for something you might end up hating seems like a big ask.
But at the end of the day piracy is a form of stealing, and it’s presented to us in a way where we don’t really have to think about what we are doing.
“But wait,” says the imaginary blogger I have created for this situation, “Piracy doesn’t steal anything, it simply makes a copy! That’s not theft.” And to that I would say, sure. Piracy isn’t your dictionary definition of stealing, but you didn’t pay for that copy of Dallas Buyers Club and now you own it. It’s not exactly a guilt-free transaction, is it?
Your average Game Of Thrones episode costs around $6,000,000 to make, which means every season you’re enjoying around $60 million worth of entertainment. Surely that’s something worth spending money on? If you’ve downloaded an entire season of Game Of Thrones, you should go out and buy the season on DVD. It’d be downright rude not to.
If you downloaded the first episodes of Season Five within hours of it airing, it’s pretty obvious you’re a fan. So ask yourself, 'How much support have I given to this thing that has literally given me days of quality entertainment?'
If you’re reading this in a Game Of Thrones T-shirt while you drink from a House Of Lannister mug, then sick, keep up the good work! If you’re complaining that your torrent is going way too slow and you haven’t given the show a cent, pick up your game. Someone is working hard to put makeup on Drogo’s perfect, perfect face. And they probably deserve to be paid.
Many of you are hopefully familiar with the concept of “One Dollar = One Vote”. it’s a concept that’s at the core of every boycott campaign in the world (and if someone who thinks Halal funds terrorism can figure it out, so can you). We vote with our wallet, and you’re not voting when you’re pirating.
You could argue that the television industry is watching the massive numbers that GoT is getting on PirateBay. But you know what those TV execs are watching more? The ratings on their own station that they are selling ad space for. Every time you download an episode of Game Of Thrones without spending money on it, you are saying, “Hey Channel Seven, you know what I would really love? Another show about cooking or renovating!”
Why would they make exciting new content when you watch whatever crap they put on, and illegally download the stuff you actually want to watch? They wouldn’t. And that’s why you have to fork out the money to watch it on Foxtel, because Channel Seven can make just as much money by showing a man cook an omelette, and then cry into it. Hell, they can get better ratings showing people watching The Walking Dead than they can by showing The Walking Dead.
And it’s not just TV shows – this goes for pretty much everything that you’re downloading illegally. It’s just as much about Courtney Barnett as it is Walter White.
Compared to the television and movie industries, the music industry is full of saints when it comes to providing users with easy access to their favourite songs. iTunes has given us simple access to around 37 million songs, Spotify let you legally stream music for free (while paying artists next to nothing), and there’s no doubt that your favourite local band has a Bandcamp account set up to grab their album from. Yet pirating is still running wild in the industry, because you can’t beat quick and free, even if you’re coming damn close to giving people that.
So like everyone else, you're currently in love with Courtnet Barnett's debut album Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t support her financially by buying it. The album is available on nearly every platform imaginable, and if you shop around on them I’m sure you could even save yourself a few dollars.
And it doesn’t necessarily have to be buying her music – if you like her album you should go buy a T-shirt, or go see her on her upcoming Australian tour.
Barnett is just an example, but the point remains. If you illegally download something, the least you could do is support the thing that is bringing you genuine enjoyment. Vote with your wallet and put your hard-earned cash towards the things you like. Musicians, especially local acts and bands on indie labels, do it a lot tougher financially than KISS or Kanye would make you think.
Is it cool when you see some multi-national corporation sue the living daylights out of some 21-year-old uni student for downloading a few films? No, that sucks. We all want to get back at Rupert Murdoch for being generally terrible, but he isn’t going to notice the few bucks you’re taking from him when you illegally download as much as the people below him who are just trying to make a living wage. Piracy isn’t awesome, and you should pay for stuff when you can.