In 2001 I downloaded five songs by a now-defunct "folk rock duo" from the internet. The band was obscure, its albums not stocked at the small-town music stores nearby or the Walmart 25 minutes up Route 1. iTunes didn't exist yet. Amazon was still a bookstore. So I fired up LimeWire and snapped them up for free.
It was the last time I pirated something. And more and more, it feels like the last time I wasn't the punchline to a bad joke.
There are people who see piracy as a right and people who see it as a crime, and it's those people who suck up all the air in a debate that's never going to be resolved. I'm neither. I'm a person who pays for content because I want to support the people who created it, but who's increasingly frustrated by how hard content owners make it to just give them my money sometimes. That may put me in the minority, but I don't think I'm alone.
The fact is, it's become so easy—and, increasingly, necessary—to pirate content that not to do so takes not just conscious effort but self-deprivation. I waited nearly a full year to watch Game of Thrones, because that's how long it took to get from HBO to iTunes. If I had any interest in purchasing an Avatar 3D Blu-ray, I would have either had to buy a Panasonic 3DTV or wait three years just for the right to spend thirty bucks on FernGully with giant blue cat-people having tail sex.