Ahoy there! Meet the pirates

Ahoy there! Meet the pirates

Posted January 19th, 2012 by debritz

Taking something that isn't yours is illegal. We all know that; we learn it from a very young age. But not one of us isn't guilty of theft in some form or another, be it by accidentally taking home a pen that belongs to your employer or downloading a movie or television program from the internet.

It's the latter case that's been causing a stir recently, in the context of American "anti-piracy" legislation.

But why do people download content from the internet when they know it's illegal? I have no doubt that for many people it's simply because they can, and they figure that there's no point in paying for something you can get for free.

But what if you went to a shop and there was no checkout counter, or no staff to take your money? Would you do? Return the goods to the shelf, or take them anyway, reasoning that you had tried to pay for them but couldn't?

When I lived in Thailand, there were certain western TV programs I wanted to watch but simply could not obtain by any legal, paid means. Sure I could buy any movie I wanted from the stalls operating openly along Sukhumvit and Silom roads -- including titles that hadn't even screened at cinemas yet -- but they were all pirated anyway. So while I would have paid, none of my money would have gone to the creators of the product.

My other option would have been to download shows from the internet -- cutting out the middle man. That's something I would have gladly paid to do, just as I have gladly paid for songs over iTunes. But there was, and still is, no legal means of me doing so, in Thailand or in many other countries -- largley because of the deals the content makers have made with broadcasters and exhibitors.

I could have easily rationalised any act of 'piracy', especially since most of the shows I wanted to see are screened in Australia on the ABC, which is funded by the Australian taxpayer -- and that's a group that's included me for a very long time.

My point is that this is not a black-and-white issue. The only real first step to eradicating or minimising piracy is to make paid content available globally, directly and on-demand to those who want it.