Online piracy is it ever OK?


My gut feeling when we talk about piracy is that it is theft. By downloading movies, TV shows, games and music from the internet without paying, we are stealing from the artists who produced them. Yes, a lot of them are overpaid, but is that our judgement. On a more local scale we are depriving locally run businesses, such as the Regal Twin Cinema, Rocking Horse Records and Network Video of much needed business.

My argument when someone illegally downloads content is would you go into a shop and steal a CD, because that is what piracy is. Would my feelings have been different if the internet had been around to download music and films when I was younger? Probably, because my morals were different then and I didn’t have friends who were small business owners.

I don’t judge people who do download pirated content, I can understand why they do it. Music is expensive, as is going to the cinema, and it’s easy not too feel guilty about depriving rich Hollywood celebrities and rock stars of a few dollars. Instead look at the faceless victims, the local businesses and the people they employ.

When I was a teenager in Manchester, there were 3 record shops in the city centre (yes they were still called records then): HMV, Virgin and an independent, all of which were packed on a Saturday. In Brisbane city centre, I am only aware of one and as far as I remember it was the same in Manchester last time I went home. I know partly it is due to iTunes and the like, but I don’t feel piracy is helping either. We are losing community hubs where music lovers could meet and local bands could come and promote their latest LPs.

What can legislation do about this? Copyright holders have asked Australian ISPs to enforce a three strikes policy, where users suspected of downloading pirated content receive 3 warning letters and then the ISPS work with the copyright owners to deal with the users. This has been scrapped as it is too expensive. In reality enforcing copyright infringement on the internet could prove difficult as the downloaders often live in different countries than the copyright holders.

However, piracy is down in Australia, possibly due to streaming providers such as Netflix and iTunes providing  affordable legal streaming services, with high quality content.

Image attribution: Creative Commons (Attribution 3.0)



3 thoughts on “Online piracy is it ever OK?

  1. Kelly Young says:

    Hi Debbie. You raise good points here. I love going to real cinemas and buying real CD’s (or records then cassettes back in my first days of music purchasing). I know people will do anything to get around laws. Human nature being what it is we love a free deal. But I agree their must be many more pirates around in the 21st century than in the four hundred years ago on the high seas! The tactics nowadays are too easy to become a full blown pirate. No risk of scurvy, mutiny, ship-wreck, canon ball to the chest… or sword! Perhaps we need to revert to tougher penalties like those given to pirates when caught – off with their heads! Or in 21st century speak: off with their computer connections!!!


  2. Jessica Evans says:

    I agree with you, I also don’t like the idea of piracy. I veiw it as stealing. I hadn’t thought about the stealing from local business viewpoint that you had mentioned but they are very true.


  3. Janine Cummings says:

    Hi Debbie, explaining the concept of piracy as going into a store and stealing is really simple. I think there’s this barrier with the internet – that if we do it on the internet it’s all ok!?! I think the idea of the 3 strike rule is an interesting concept, I mean if the government is keeping all our metadata then surely there would be many ways to identify possible breaches, I’m no hacker or code developer but I do wonder what’s possible? But then I also think about the information that was discussed in the “Fappening” video where information is available for purchase – do you think this would be ok?


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