When my brother and I used to game on our beloved Commodore 64 back in the 80s we used to save our Eid money every year to buy new games at the Dion store. As far as we were aware, that was the only place where you could actually buy games. That system of saving up meant we were guaranteed at least two new games a year. If we were really lucky, my dad would add on a few bucks and we’d buy a compilation set, that had five or six games in a pack. That yearly ritual of going to the Dion was like Christmas for the two us.
It was not however the only way we acquired games. I’m guessing, but I would say that fully half of all the games we owned on our C64 were acquired via piracy. It was as easy as putting the game cassette in your Hifi, pushing play on one deck and record on the other. A buddy would have a game, itself already pirated from somewhere else, and you would make a copy for yourself. We did it, our friends did it and if you had a C64 or ZX Spectrum, I bet you did it too.
Back then, games weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now and, as far as we knew, that was just how you got games. Your friend gave it you. It was never stealing. It was sharing. It was just how things got done. As clichéd as it sounds, we really did not know any better. It is a flimsy excuse, but I think it has at least some measure of validity. We were ignorant ten year olds who wanted to play games. That was the only way to do it.
But our behaviour extended beyond games. We copied each other albums, we copied each others movies.
Today, however, is a different story all together. If you are pirating software today, or anything else for that matter, you know that what you are doing is wrong. Now I am not about to suggest this is a more serious crime than murder, armed robbery or rape. And I don’t think pirates should be flogged or lynched and I especially don’t think people should be dragged through the courts because they torrented some music. I think that if you are caught torrenting music or games or whatever, you should be reasonably punished for it. And no, US$62 500 per song downloaded or shared is not reasonable as was the case with Jammie Thomas.
What I want to get at with this whole piracy issue is the “victim and activist” labels that some committing piracy have come to mark themselves with. No, you are not a victim being gouged by “the Man”. No, you are not an activist fighting “Big Content”. You are a criminal.
The fact is movies, videogames and music, these are not things you are entitled to. Someone somewhere made these things in order to sell them. They are commodities designed with the intent to be sold. If you feel that it’s too expensive, that does not suddenly infer on you the right to then pirate them. If it’s too expensive, then learn to live without it. I agree that ridiculous DRM measures and those highly annoying unskippable commercials on DVDs are things that absolutely need to GTFO. But those things do not justify your piracy.
Bottom line? The main motivation for people who pirate: They want free stuff. You can come up with all justifications in the world, and many of them may be salient points, but the truth is you are taking something that you have no right to. If you want to pirate stuff, then fine. I won’t ask you to stop. But please, stop this rubbish about pretending to be a noble crusader acting to protect consumer rights or whatever. Just admit you are a thief.