Let's make it clear: I defend piracy

@ 2009-04-26 by João Paulo Pizani Flor

To make it even clearer: I think that Internet filesharing has absolutely NOTHING to do with the assault of cargo ships, and thus doesn’t deserve being called piracy. I can’t see anything wrong in downloading songs and videos from people who have chosen to share these files with me. The criminalization of such act is for me at least curious. And I will tell why I think this way…

Before I need to define clearly what I’m standing for. I’m standing for filesharing. This has nothing, really nothing to do with the selling of bootlegs on the street. This selling is a comercial activity that creates a black market, fosters violence and avoids taxation.

Now that I’ve said what I stand for, here’s why:

  1. The sharing of media files among individuals does NO HARM to society at large: The harm, if there’s any, is directed exclusively towards the CD-and-DVD-selling companies. Unfornately most artists are still bound by contracts which make them hostages to these companies, but this scenario is changing quickly.

  2. The high prices of “official” media simply can’t be justified: You surely know that a recordable CD costs way less than US$1. The costs of the recording process are also way cheaper than US$1. Why then does a CD cost a dozen dollars? The fact that artists don’t hold the bulk of the nations GDP makes us think that most of this money is kept by the recording labels.

  3. Similar revolutions have ocurred in past times: When Gutemberg invented the printing press, the governments wanted to dictate who could print. The biggest editors even created a specific police to destroy the printing machines of small enterpreneurs through all Europe. By the time when VHS was invented, it also faced strong resistance from the movie industry, which wanted to forbid its use. Also the MP3 file format and the usage of MP3 Players were fought by the recording moguls.

  4. It’s useless to resist filesharing: Filesharing networks these days are extremely decentralized. This means that nobody knows where are ALL files. Each one knows only about his/her own files. Thus, to bring down one of these networks it’s necessary to bring down each one of its multi-milion users. Even if someone manages to achieve this feat (which I doubt), in a few days a new filesharing network will be born, because the idea that information should be free is already carved into people’s minds.

  5. It’s impossible to try and arrest hundreds of millions: If sharing files with people is a criminal activity, then are criminals all the people who share. The current number of these “criminals” worldwide easily goes beyond hundreds of millions. Those who don’t share know someone who shares, and we are therefore all accomplices. A bit absurd, don’t you think? So do I…

But wait a minute, this way artists will starve!!! How will they feed themselves?! Relax… It can’t be so bad. I feel that, even with BitTorrent and the like running wildly in all computers, artistic expression won’t die :)

The free circulation of their portifolio will make good artists known more quickly, and will get them a greater public. This easy publicity alone is a WIN.

I sincerely don’t know by which ways artists are going to make money, not ALL ways. At least one I know, though: Good and old face-to-face concerts. This is the most complete interaction artists can have with their public, and will never be replaced by any “digital experience”. True fans know what I’m talking about :) Perhaps the selling of diverse items related to the artist might also be a good source of income…

And for the recording companies… there’s not much hope for salvation. Capitalism was always like that. Market niches were born and died, empires were built and fell down. Believe me, I almost feel sorry for the recording moguls :)

Here’s a very clarifying picture of the difference between piracy and filesharing. Daniel sent me this one.

The difference between file sharing and piracy
The difference between file sharing and piracy

Since a long time I stand for piracy, but the wish to write this post came last week, when I watched a film with the weird name “Steal this film”. It’s a documentary about Internet filesharing, the attempts to bring this sharing to a halt, and the invasion of privacy resulting from these attempts. You can get the torrent for this movie (of course, legally) in the movie’s official website. There are subtitles available in several languages.

UPDATE (2013-02-20): An awesome movie on this subject has just been released: TPB AFK (The Pirate Bay - Away From Keyboard). It tells the story of The Pirate Bay, the world’s largest filesharing website, and in particular the trial its founders were subjected to in Sweden between 2009 and 2012.