I’ve been an anti-piracy advocate in my friend circle for many years now. Over time though, I realized that people like me were rare and specially in India, we became outcasts. Friends and relatives look at me like I am nuts when I refuse to lend them my iPod so they can copy songs from it. The burden of guilt was specially heavy when I refused to copy songs on a USB drive for my niece (I bought her CDs instead). It has now come to pass that I have to exercise caution while expressing my views on piracy and people who indulge in piracy don’t give a damn! How the heck did we get to this stage?
Take this exchange on Twitter –
Guy 1 – “I notice it is without Windows and only with DOS. Possible reason for low price I suppose.”
Guy 2 – “Yes comes with DOS. You can get the windows CD anywhere. I bought this laptop 2 months ago. It’s amazing.”
Guy 2 is recommending a lower-priced laptop which does not have Windows on it because “you can get windows CD anywhere”. In other words, why pay for something when you can get a pirated copy for free. I found this conversation disturbing to say the least:
- Guy 2 is advocating piracy in public and doesn’t give a damn
- This exchange has a fairly wide audience. Guy 2 has 6000+ followers and Guy 1 has almost 7000 followers and my guess is that they share many followers (like me) who are following this exchange.
It’s important to point out that Guy 1 is asking an innocent question and from what I know of him (via his tweets and blog posts) someone who goes out of his way to get stuff legally.
This kind of exchange is hardly an exception. Conversations on socials networks range from discreet (sanitized references to piracy like “download”, “link please”, “linkesh”, “pdf version”) to “naughty” (nudges and winks indicated through an assortment of smileys) to outright blatant (railing against the ban of pirate sites).
As I have said in a previous post, one of the root causes of piracy is the poor availability of content from legal sources. While I don’t support that argument, I do understand it. The other root cause is simply people not wanting to pay for stuff. Many of these people rationalize their “downloading” ways by citing arguments that sound intellectual but are basically flawed – “Why should I pay for bad quality content?”, “Unfair pricing”, “Big companies are greedy”, “Sharing is good for content creators”, etc).
However, the biggest emerging cause for piracy seems to be the fact that people don’t even think of unpaid downloads as piracy. It has become mainstream. How can something be wrong if everyone is doing it? This is probably the single biggest problem the music industry faces today.