How to be a Pirate

pirate

Have you ever pirated? A song? A movie? A small sailing vessel? Why not? Why would you ever pay ten bucks for a movie when all you need to do is input ‘free streaming’ on Google and BOOM, you have a list of reputable venders who are more than willing to post free content online. And it’s pretty damn easy.

You know what? In fact I’ll show you how easy it is.

Step 1: Find a video, like this ONE. (yes it’s mine)

Step 2: Go to this site HERE

Step 3: Input the URL of the video

Step 4: Download the video.

Congratulations! You have just pirated a video! Now with this in mind, it should also be noted on how “piracy (is) no longer a matter of someone sneaking a camcorder into a movie theater. It (is) about digitally enabled copyright infringement on a world-wide scale, distributed at no cost by file-sharing networks and websites that (are) often housed far outside of US borders.” (11) You can now just download from a torrent site (pirate sites) faster than waiting for the latest episode to get uploaded to the distributers website.

But why am I talking about this? Well see my hopes are that in the future I hopefully can make a career in writing film and TV, so as a result I try and understand piracy because I realize that one day it may be my material being pirated. Not only this, but with writers fighting so hard to get a percentage on online distribution, it is important to understand where some of those profits on their material are lost. So let’s begin.

DRM

Now most things are protected by something called Digital Rights Management (DRM) which is software in a movie, game, song or distribution website which prevents you from pirating material. You realize how hard it is to protect a video with DRM? Very. A film is a very simple line of code, there is no where to really hide DRM, especially if it has no ‘interactive features’. In reality, to pirate a video you either have to deal with DRM on a website that shows the video (which to be honest can be circumvented almost so easily that it’s comical) or deal with methods that aim to prevent distribution (jeez good luck with that, hell Youtube, which has built in scanners to delete copyrighted material, get’s fooled when you slow a video down to 90% it’s original speed. And most times they go after the user who uploaded the video which can be some guy in a remote Russian village in the middle of Siberia who uploaded it on his 1990’s modem which makes our internet look like Star Trek era space age technology. And good luck making him responsible because we all know how willing the Russians are at handing over people who are considered criminals of the US. Because they turned Snowden in right away.) So there you have it

It’s Free

It’s Quality

It’s Easy

Welp we’re done. Let’s call it a day. Thanks everyone!

Except we’re not. See there is a significant issue with pirating. Should the pirates stop then? No, because the issue doesn’t lay specifically with pirating but rather the online environment that causes and encourages it.

The vast majority of pirating takes place in reaction to a lack of accessibility to content. People either can’t access the legitimate streaming sites or they have to wait months for the content to be available online after its TV or theatre release. On top of this, it may just be that you don’t have the cash for that movie you’ve been dying to see since you were eight. What happens as a result is that people see websites, which not only have the content (for free) but are able to get it to your computer no problem. The issue doesn’t lay with the pirates but rather lays inherently within the distributors themselves and not creating a more accessible business model. This lack of access encourages the public to circumvent their protection of material to gain access to it.

The current strategy to prevent pirating is one of two methods. Method A) assumes everyone is guilty until proven otherwise with blanketed anti-piracy methods such as taking down all content from Youtube that may infringe copyright despite checking if the content is protected under Fair Use Laws, laws designed to allow people to post copyrighted material that isn’t theirs as long as it is for education, critic or satire use. If you want a good example of how this has impacted Youtube negatively take a look at this video of game reviewer AngryJoe who talks about his content being pulled from the web for supposed copyright infringement when in fact he is protected under fair use. The other method, method B), is to attack those who do infringe with law suits designed to be fear mongering, hoping to put the fear of infringing copyright into others.

NETFLIX1

These strategies are meant to deal with piracy after the fact but there are few strategies in place to address the reasons people pirate in the first place. More so, these methods fail to take advantage of piracy like Netflix does in order to find out what content they should upload. If larger companies were able to make content more accessible after it’s been released it may help the problem. If you look at services like Netflix you can have limitless access to their content for a couple bucks a month. Why can’t we get more services like this? Why is it I can’t pay a small fee for the month to have limitless access to certain networks?

There is a need to restructure the accessibility of content on the web. The issue which lays with the system now is trying to keep to the old methods of cable television of exclusive service and access. How is this possible on a medium which encourages limitless access. Instead of trying to catch the criminals, shouldn’t the system try and create a form of distribution which encourages such acts.

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  1. […] infinite ways to consume media originally meant for television–some legal and other not so legal (as one of my peers nicely brings up in his own blog post). The WGA strike of 2007 was over how to split profits in an increasingly diverse digital […]

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