The Pirate Bay dudes were found guilty today. I didn't follow the case too closely, nor am I a BitTorrent fiend. But if they're guilty, I guess so am I.
They're guilty, you can't argue that they're not. They broke the rules set by the Establishment. But the technology is based on crowdsourcing, and as surely as we download, we seed, and so we're all guilty.
I don't do it regularly. And I support movies and music I think deserve to be supported. But I can't argue that I'm not also guilty.
But I will argue that this guy is a dick:
Speaking to the BBC, the chairman of industry body the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) John Kennedy said the verdict sent out a clear message.
"These guys weren't making a principled stand, they were out to line their own pockets. There was nothing meritorious about their behaviour, it was reprehensible."
We stole, but I think the Pirate Bay did make a stand.
I can afford to buy my content, unlike when I was a brokeass in college. But I still steal when I don't want to spend 45 minutes going to a movie theater and waiting in line or paying 10 bucks for 10 ounces of stale popcorn, or when there's no way I'm going to pay for a movie, or when I can't find back catalog listings I desperately want. I live by our pirate code, and will always support the artists I believe in. For example, I am saving Watchmen and Wolverine for the big screen for the quality and to support the artists. But Transporter 3 is a piece of junk I decided I needed to watch one night, stoned, with no other entertainment in sight. Same for Punisher: War zone. I end up watching the first 20 minutes of a lot of shitty films, and then shutting them off—it's just something I do. And if I couldn't pirate them, I'd never see them at all. But I'm getting off point.
The crux of it is that I just don't want to be told when to watch them, how to watch them, and what to watch them on. I'd say that for a lot of people, that's the case. Sure, some people just steal because they don't want to or can't pay, but a lot of people are just waiting for the official distribution model to be just as slick as BitTorrent.
Look at how popular iTunes became. That system thrived because it provided a great mainstream experience, even while limewire/napster were free and thriving. Or look at Hulu now. I don't have to go to BitTorrent for a TV show—new or old—if it's on something as amazing and easy-to-use as Hulu. (And some studies show that people are migrating from torrent to streaming, when it's viable.) I just don't want to have to be told I have to wait to see movies on my computer/phone in some crippled way, weeks later. For me, it's about speed, and ultimately convenience and experience, above all else. I don't get that at the megaplex, no matter how much they want me to line their pockets with popcorn and gummibear money.
I know there are business oriented reasons to keep theaters running ahead of the iTunes releases. Those reasons are often synonymous with reasons for keeping the control of how we enjoy our content in the hands of those who distribute it. I mean, Lost is on public TV and it's on ABC.com, for free, in high def even, but people still download the hell out of that show, probably because their countries are a season or two behind, or the convenience still outstrips what's available to them. The Pirate Bay is closer to that solution than the establishment is. And so I disagree with International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's stance that the Pirate Bay did nothing good. They did nothing good for the winners of this court case, but they are state of the art for media distribution, and producers should learn how to work with the world as it is now, instead of trying to deny reality.
Eventually, this will work itself out. The internet is going to connect producers and viewers together without a thinner distribution middleman. Somehow. Someday.
For now, I plead guilty. So lock me up, because I'm a pirate, too.
And if you feel the same way I do, make a pirate hat, take a photo of yourself wearing it with or without an eyepatch, parrot, cardboard sword, and post it somewhere, anywhere, and declare yourself a pirate.
UPDATE: Not that this changes the issues at hand, but now I feel unbelievably guilty now that I've admitted I've stolen some media. I'm going to go through and see what I've downloaded without paying for, and pay whatever I haven't already paid for or own on another format. Promise.