Content piracy is a very controversial topic, and as a blogger focused on getting stuff on the cheap, it seem like an appropriate area to look at and discuss. As I suspect most people are deep down, I am generally anti-piracy. I feel that intellectual property is a meaningful term, and that content creators should be able to market their wares for some value in order to create additional content. I do acknowledge that industry forces put a stranglehold on some content and put it at prices that are not sustainable in the marketplace.
My solution to that problem thus far has been to simply ignore that content, but there are many out there who fell justified to in a Robin-Hood-like mentality of taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Of course, there are other who simply feel that digital content should be free to sample and if you want to support a creator than you simply give them money directly in various ways.
I see value in both arguments, and I’m clearly not here to solve this issue today. Today, I want to talk about a couple of the interesting results of piracy and what effect it has a content creation and consumption. (I discuss torrents below, which are one of the most popular methods of content piracy) to find out more about this technology, check out this About.com tutorial.)
Slashdot had a very interesting post by a former indie-music producer who argues that The Pirate Bay (the most popular torrent tracker) hosting actually strengthens the hegemony of the music industry. That is to say, piracy actually keep big industry content popular. I have heard arguments that content piracy is the best thing for independent artists because it gets more people to consume their content, but do these statistics prove the contrary. It is a difficult question, and I hope you check out the argument for more details.
One other interesting aspect of this discussion is the use of language by each side to describe its habits. Those who are using unauthorized content first called themselves file-sharers, casting themselves in a benevolent light. Then, the content industry labeled these people as pirates evoking greedy thieves, but this move backfired in the sense that these users took back the term to cast it in the positive ‘Disney-fied’ pirates as romantic, swashbuckling heroes. Things like The Pirate Bay and torrents (by definition, a turbulent, swift-flowing stream) evoke this romantic sense of the terminology. I look forward to seeing what the next volley in the language war will be.
As always, feel free to leave your thoughts on the topic in the comments.
Finally, on a completely unrelated note. Since one of my most popular stories last year was on the announcement by Apple of their by a computer get an iPod deal for students and educators, I wanted to mention that it has begun again this year. You can check out the details here.