A long time ago, I used to be a software pirate. It’s no secret; my hands were dirty from as far back as the 8-bit computer generation, from trading illegally copied software in stacks of 5 1/4-inch floppy disks. Sometimes by the boxload.
And even as recently as a couple of years ago, I made a case for “piracy” because the restrictions built into DVD region settings were an enormous hassle, and were preventing legitimate owners from using a product they had paid for, with real money. That still grates me, too.
But now, I completely withdraw my support for any kind of software or movie or music piracy, regardless of the grounds or the situation. You no longer have my sympathy whatsoever, period.
I hear people jabber a lot about fighting a backhanded war, a sort of battle of obstruction by pirating software, as if their efforts made it somehow more difficult for the software and entertainment industries to protect their products. I’ve heard people say they pirated music or movies as some sort of revenge effort, against an industry that continues to release shoddier and shoddier stuff.
And sometimes I might have even agreed. But not any more. Any legitimacy or rationalization or sense of nobility you might claim by illegally downloading software or movies or music completely evaporated with the Humble Indie Bundle.
Because in spite of the price, which was conceivably as low as one U.S. cent, and in spite of the option to donate all of that one cent to charity and leave the developers with nothing, some people still stole it.
Where is your nobility now? Where is your sense of revolution and damn-The-Man, when you subvert a product available for less money than is probably under the cushions in your sofa?
You’re not Robin Hood, you’re not a closet-dwelling anarchist or a technophiliac revolutionary any more. You’re a thief.
You can give me any sob story you like: I have five kids to feed. I am homeless and vagrant. I am saving my money for college. I’m saving the developer’s bandwidth by using an illegitimate torrent. The sun was in my eyes.
Nonsense. All you’ve done is prove that your motive isn’t revolutionary, that you aren’t a technophiliac anarchist, and there’s no nobility or sense of insurgency involved in your pirating. And if you would stoop to steal a penny from a charity, then your motives in every other case are equally clear.
You’re just a thief.