Piracy Part 2: Culture Change

— August 06, 2010 (4 comments)
On Wednesday, I talked about how piracy isn't just a legal matter. It's an entire culture that believes digital media should be cheap or free, and that if it isn't, they have a right to pirate it.

How can you fight something like this? How do you fight a culture that looks at you like a freak just for obeying the law? I don't know how to change a whole culture, but I know it starts with the individual.

Do the right thing. It's hard to fight piracy if you pirate (though I guess there are levels of piracy, and you're welcome to fight at whatever level you're comfortable with, aye?). It can be super-hard to tell your friends you don't want to borrow their pirated DVDs (I know!), but doing so raises their awareness that maybe NOT everyone does it. It shows them some people still care (even if they think you're weird for caring).

Talk about piracy. Some people may have no idea what they're doing is illegal. Others figure that since "everybody" does it, it's okay. The more people talk about it, online or elsewhere, the more others will get that it's illegal. But while you're talking, remember...

Don't judge. This is probably the most important thing to remember. It's easy to care about piracy laws if you don't own anything pirated. But you have to understand that when you say, "Pirating is illegal," some people hear, "You're not a good person unless you throw away all your favorite stuff." Keep that in mind when you bring it up, and don't make it worse by hating on people who do it.

Know the law. There are a lot of myths about what is and is not legal, so it helps to do your homework. Loaning a book? Legal. Burning songs you own? Usually legal. Giving that burned CD to a friend? Probably not legal.

Support anti-piracy laws. One of the things that encouraged my wife's conviction was when the police cracked down on some of the illegal movie shops here in Chiang Mai. The law won't solve the problem, but it's easier to do the right thing if the authorities are doing something about it too.

I mean, I don't know how culture changes, but I figure this is a good start, yeah? What do you think? (By the way, there's no part 3, so if this mini-series was making you feel guilty don't worry. I'm done.)

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  1. Know the law...
    I didn't realize that MSs were supposed to be done on Business software! so i guess i was pirating without knowing it! but sometimes I use that free one-open office - so, maybe i'll just stick to writing in that program... i wonder if that's still pirating...
    Don't judge...
    useful advice for SO many topics- not just piracy

  2. As for the business software, it really depends on the EULA (that thing nobody reads but everybody clicks "I Have Read and Agreed to This") of the software you're using.

    In my case, it was MS Office 2010 Home & Student, which said a couple of times on the box -- and on the title bar of every open document -- "non-commercial use only". I'm sure it doesn't apply to all "home" or "business" programs.

  3. I think the only thing that ever, truly, changes a culture is making the intellectual case, the war of ideas. So you are exactly right to be talking about it.

    I've given this a lot of thought in the context of e-books. I know (and even love) people that have no qualms passing around pirated e-books. I gently try to point out that that could be my book, and that the author isn't making much money to begin with off their work, and now even less. You don't want to hate on people (because, really, there's enough of that in the world), but most people have compassion when they see the real harm done to real people.

    Interestingly, piracy defenders usually make great pains to show how it doesn't hurt anyone. So, I think that gentle speaking out of the harm it inflicts is key.


  4. Thanks for the link, Josh. I'll check it out.