In this post I’m not going to try to defend piracy (my favorite argument of availability and ease of use would go there) but instead on the moral side of this whole show. What am I talking about? Illegal downloads of music, movies and games. It doesn’t matter which of these you download, it doesn’t matter if you buy games without a certain type of DRM or if you just download old music or TV-Shows that have already run. I even like to point out that people who break the rules are actually important to improve the experience for all others because the companies wouldn’t learn otherwise. You might be faced with unstoppable 30 minutes of ads on DVDs for example. It doesn’t change that you are stealing.
By definition you are a thief. With a more awesome name… .
There is no defense against this, and any excuse or attempt to sweet talk this is just that. If you’re a pirate you’re a thief. I know I am. The thing is that this is used as the ultimate accusation to make you stop. But should it? The only person who can answer this is yourself. If you happen to be devoutly religious than theft is most likely a sin. So you really fucking should stop doing it. If you are not into one of the major religions you probably have your own set of moral standards and suddenly the question is “Can I live with being a thief?” You should honestly ask yourself this because if you can’t you’re a major hypocrite for still doing piracy. Once more, there are many good reasons for piracy but they do not change that you are a thief. They just give you a reason to be one. My short answer to the question is “Yes”. My long pussyfooting answer is “Yes, under the right circumstances“.
Now here’s the question at what point your moral boundaries begin and end. What reasons are good enough for you to steal. What circumstances would keep you from it. Would I still download a song if it meant there would be an actual physical thing missing that someone else has less of? I doubt it. Except if I’m hungry but let’s stay real here, piracy is no fight to survive. It is about convinience and luxury good that you want. You don’t need any of the things you download to survive. So here’s the thing. I pirate companies that refuse to sell me what I consider a working copy of their game. This happens a lot more often outside the US by the way. I also pirate TV-Series. My excuse there is that by the time I could get hands on them the decision of their success or not has already been made. Once more, I’d pay if there was a decent system. But of course I’m taking the liberty to decide what a convenient and fair system would be. That’s the sort of entitled attitude they just have to deal with if they compete with “for free”.
But the one thing you should remember in all this is that the question isn’t if what you do is 100% legal. Or if the companies approve. They are lying and stealing shits who have no right to claim moral high ground even then talking to a piranha. These people don’t get to tell you or me how bad we are. The real question here is if you look into the mirror, can you honestly say you think what you do is ok? I’m not talking about lawful or righteous because it certainly isn’t. If you can, more power to you. If you can’t or have to lie to yourself you might want to rethink what you’re doing. I have my own standards which I won’t go into detail here but here’s two easy examples out of my book:
Pirate Star Craft II? I can fucking understand you. With their Real ID Fetish I don’t even want them to know I exist.
Pirate World of Goo? You’re just an asshole. These guys are really trying hard.
So what am I saying here? I guess it comes down to the same rule you should apply to everything else in life. Don’t be a dick. Don’t make excuses or lie to yourself. But also don’t let an industry tell you what’s right or wrong. You might be a thief but that doesn’t make you an asshole. In a world of corrupt politics, a banking system that feeds on nations and an entertainment industry that tries you to actively keep you from your paid purchases the morals aren’t that black and white. It is one big grey mess. It isn’t piracy that makes you an asshole. It is the way you go about it.
This is a sliding scale of grey and the only measurement is yourself. But other people have different attitudes so don’t be surprised if for other people what you do is evil. Or that you’re a cooperate puppet for still buying certain stuff. You’ve made yourself a thief, you lost all moral superiority so you just have to live with that sort of problem. But if you worry what other people think about it you have the wrong priorities anyway. Don’t do things you’d be ashamed off. That’s a nifty little rule for everything you do.
Me? I’m a thief and while I ain’t Robin Hood I’m pretty sure I’m not going to hell either. At least not for that…