I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

The wrong movement

As expected, I’ve already received a lot of feedback on my justifying-piracy post from this morning. I’d like to expand on this part:

You’re not making any kind of statement or participating in a movement [by pirating] — you’re just being cheap and/or impatient.

Actually, piracy does make a statement — it’s just the wrong statement. If you truly want to pressure content providers to adapt new distribution channels, and you’re not just trying to justify getting everything for free, piracy is hurting your cause.

Most geeks try to justify piracy because the content isn’t available on our terms. We can’t get it in our country, we can’t get it as quickly as we want, it costs more than we want to pay, we can’t get it on the device we want, or we can’t get it in the format we want. Publishers have a distribution problem.

But when publishers see widespread piracy of their content, they don’t see the distribution problem. They think they have a piracy problem.

Publishers believe (with mixed success) that piracy problems can be solved by force: existing laws are being mostly ignored and violated en masse, so the publishers lobby Congress for stronger laws and pressure ISPs for stricter enforcement. The more they fight on this front, the more likely that their anti-technology, anti-internet efforts will actually pass and hurt legitimate online activity and businesses.

Pirating adds to that problem and encourages publishers that they need to fight harder in that direction.

But distribution is completely their fault. They can’t blame anyone else. Insufficient distribution or unappealing terms are problems that they need to solve, not legislators, lawsuits, ISPs, or law enforcement.

Adding to their distribution problem without contributing to their piracy problem is the most effective way to encourage them to make the kind of progress we want.