BY SEAN GARRETT
Ahh Jeff Bleich, I admire your convictions, I really do, but you are fighting a battle that you really just can’t win.
For those of you who don’t know, Mr Bleich is the current U.S Ambassador to Australia. He caused a bit of a stir recently by commenting on Australia and its culture of internet piracy, saying “Unfortunately, nearly as epic and devious as the drama is its unprecedented theft by online viewers around the world. As the Ambassador here in Australia, it was especially troubling to find out that Australian fans were some of the worst offenders with among the highest piracy rates of Game of Thrones in the world.”
Naturally it caused a stir amongst us but it got me thinking.
Why do we pirate TV Shows/Music/Games from the Internet? Why do we deprive hard-working artists and developers of their hard earned reward when they have put hours upon hours of time into their creations?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to advocate or endorse internet piracy here, nor am I trying to guilt you into buying all your entertainment media. As a budding game/software developer it’s an issue I am going to have to contend with seriously in the very near future. Many studios have gone bankrupt in the past due to this. Not a very big confidence booster.
After good long session of procrastinating for an assignment and a solid 8 hour shift of nothing at work, I came up with a couple of reasons as to why we do it:
1) Why Pay for Something When I Don’t Have To?
Let’s you have two choices to get yourself a copy of the complete box set of Scrubs (only to Season 8. Season 9 is not a season of Scrubs). One is at the regular retail price of, let’s say $150, the other costs you nothing. There is no catch other than the small chance you may be caught walking away with it, and even then no one is really going to stop you.
99% of the time people are going to go with the free option. Why wouldn’t you? That’s $150 extra dollars in your pocket you can spend on something else.
This next example is another good reason why people choose the free option. Now for the tech savvy among you, Adobe has a software package that includes all their major design programs, which is called the Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection. Now for a top of the line package like this it costs around $2599, which is pretty reasonable. Catch is that that is the price you would pay in America. To get the same software package in Australia will cost you $3949. Now let me stress this part.
It is cheaper to fly to America, buy the software over there and then fly back than it is to buy it here.
To put it bluntly, that’s fucked. So if someone can find this program online and download it for free without fear of repercussions, then hell yes they would take advantage of it.
2) I can get it straight away, why wait until it’s released here?
Back to my Scrubs example, say you wanted to get the retail copy and pay that $150, but you then find out you have to wait 3 months before it gets released officially. The free copy however, you can just walk out the door with right there. No catch other than the one from before. Again, 99% of us will go “Fuck waiting, I want my J.D and Turk now!” and walk right out that door.
Here’s another way of viewing this. Say you happen to come across an album from back in the 50’s that you really, really enjoy, from an artist who is long dead. You search everywhere for it but can only find a pirated copy on the internet. You would download that album without a second thought. Who’s going to care? The dead artist who created it?
This is probably a justification that people don’t actually realise they’re using, and that is “I WILL PAY FOR SOMETHING THAT DESERVES IT!!”, and to be honest I could not agree more. Many a time I have refused to buy something on the basis that “It is shit and if I want it I’ll get a pirate copy online” and I still hold to that.
For example, I refuse to give MTV another cent of my money purely because of the fact that “TV Shows” like Jersey Shore still exist on our airwaves. While I would love nothing more than to own the complete series of Daria on DVD, I won’t buy it because MTV keep putting out the bullshit they do. Justified? I think so
On the flip side I will be happy to fork out my cash for products that are well deserving of it, such as me paying $150 for the Borderlands 2 Ulitmate Loot Chest when it came out. Now aside from the cool extras and bobble head (that I have now broken) that came with it, I forked out that much because I knew that the developers behind the game worked hard and tirelessly on this. As such I feel that my paying for it is well justified.
Internet piracy is an issue that will stick around for a long, long time and it’s not one that can be tackled with a simple “Let’s ban the Internet” solution. We all saw what happened when the US tried to introduce SOPA a year or so ago and to trying police the internet is tantamount to asking the Pope to convert followers of Islam.
It isn’t going to happen.
Sean is a final year Computer Science student at the University of Wollongong double majoring in Game Development and Software Engineering. He is currently impatiently waiting for his latest download to finish while he is rage-quitting at Mortal Kombat, again. Watch him rage from a safe distance via his Twitter page.