To Err is Human, To Arr is Pirate


Some thoughts – a long time coming and still with some trepidation.

Was inspired by Stephen Fry’s speech at the iTunes Festival – reported on here

I sometimes use bittorrent.

I do.

There, now the internet (which never forgets anything) as well as anyone monitoring network traffic knows it.

I also share content with others on my Usb Memory Stick as well as the occasional CD/DVD.

I never sell or benefit commercially from it.

In fact, to put the record straight, I also purchase content and am more than willing to pay a fair price.

To straighten the record to engineering tolerances I am also a great fan of the thinking shared in Matt Mason’s The Pirates Dilemma – yes you can download it for free or pay what you like or even buy the physical book.

Still, I am therefore a pirate.

And I’d like to say a big hello to anybody checking this site for references.So what is a pirate?

To quote Mason:

“A pirate is essentially anyone who broadcasts or copies someone else’s creative property without paying for it or obtaining permission.”

With that definition, a lot of people are pirates.

Have you ever made or shared an illegal copy of something?

Ever tape a cd or record? What about a ‘mix-tape’ for a friend?

Ever photocopy a book? What about share a pdf?

Ever download a photo you like and use it for a desktop? What about emailing it?

And there of course we have the problem. Most of that is ‘acceptable’ piracy. As long as no-one is making any money, no-one’s losing too much money and there isn’t too much of it – it’s ok.

However if over a million people are doing it and Hollywood/The Recording Industry are losing money then its a problem whether anyone else is making money or not. Examples have to be made and behaviours changed.

Then all of a sudden file-sharing, peer to peer and bittorrent is a very serious business. Key to this is the concept of protecting copyright. Never mind the fact that if suing customers for consuming pirate copies becomes central to a company or industry’s business model, then the truth is that that company or industry no longer has a competitive business model.

And there of course we have the next problem.

“While file-sharing and piracy clearly need to be regulated, copyright laws, like patent laws, are becoming so overbearing they now stifle the creative processes they were initially designed to protect.”

Loose copyright laws both stimulate and enable creativity.

Changes for the worse in things such as over-zealous prosecution, what constitutes fair use, length of time before copyright lapses and protection of ‘content’ not only threaten to make pirates of us all, and contraband of the associated technology, they can make some pirates (whatever their motives) look like freedom fighters – something history has taught us repeatedly, is not a good idea.

As well as the work of Matt Mason I mentioned earlier, I can also recommend the thoughts and writings of Lawrence Lessig whose presentation style I have mentioned elsewhere.

I may only be a pirate in the way in which Stephen Fry would consider himself a pirate, but I know that, to quote Steve Jobs in a Newsweek article, “If you want to stop piracy, the way to stop it is by competing with it.”

Do what they do – if they add value a different way, distribute a different way, find a different way of using content or being paid for it…

pirates dilemma copy.jpg


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