Why I Pirate

March 7, 2012 — 24 Comments

I’m a pirate. A dirty rotten scoundrel. A scalawag. I commandeer ships on a regular basis, which I know is wrong, but it’s a personal problem and I’m dealing with it. But I’m also a media pirate. All kinds of media. I used to pirate music, though lately I rarely download music at all and I tend to buy from iTunes when I do. But I still download movies and TV shows and the occasional book. I’d like to say outright that I do not condone piracy, nor would I claim to have good justification for doing it. I have explanation, which is not the same. I pirate. I know it’s legally wrong, and I have moral qualms about it as well, but I still do it and I have no intention of stopping any time soon. Let me tell you why.

First of all, there’s the issue of TV. I have very little moral problem with downloading TV shows that are currently airing. I have a nice satellite system at home with just about every channel available in Canada and I DVR lots of shows. Sometimes I forget to record something, though, or I am away from my TV, and in those cases I simple find a suitable download. I see that as little more than downloading something I’ve already paid for. You can argue that maybe I’m costing the networks advertising dollars, but I always skip through commercials and my viewership isn’t counted anyway.

When it comes to catalog TV I recognize my sins. I still do it though. Renting shows off iTunes is far too expensive to be worthwhile, as is buying when I don’t know if I’ll be re-watching. I don’t have Netflix because Canadian ISPs are despicable and have startlingly low download caps (my internet is a high-tiered plan and I still only get 60GB per month). And let’s face it, Netflix doesn’t necessarily have everything I’d want to watch. There are a couple of mail services, and I’ve tried the “best” one, Zip.ca, and it was awfully slow and unreliable. I could try buying the shows on DVD, but then I just run into the same problem as with iTunes. And so I am left with two options I regularly use. The first is to borrow DVDs from a friend, which if the distributors had their way would probably be illegal too, or if I can’t do that I simply download illegally.

There is the other option, of course, which is to simply not watch that which isn’t available to me legally. While I may have slight moral qualms about downloading, those come from the fact that if I could pay a reasonable amount for my media I’d be perfectly willing to do so. The obscene number of Blu-rays on my shelf is proof of that. I have no problem paying for media, but I need to pay a fair price and I need to feel like I’m getting what I actually want. What’s the use in paying double the price to upgrade my internet service and add another $8 per month for Netflix if half the stuff I want to watch isn’t available? And more importantly, what’s the use in paying all that money for spotty content and service when I can download things more reliably, in better quality and free online?

I have effectively the same view when it comes to downloading movies, though I do that far less that TV shows. With movies, I see a lot of them at the cinema already, and with catalog films I often watch films recorded on my DVR or that I buy on Blu-ray. I generally don’t like watching films on my computer, so I don’t mind paying to watch on my TV or projection system. But sometimes I do download, and it comes from a lack of access to content.

For example, I love Criterion Collection releases, and I own close to 100 films released under their label. But I can’t afford all of them, and I have no easy way to rent them. There’s a store in Toronto that rents Criterion releases, but I don’t always have easy access. In the US every Criterion film is available on the paid Hulu+ service. Unfortunately, I live in Canada where we don’t get any Hulu whatsoever. Criterion releases are also extremely expensive to purchase, especially considering I would be blind-buying most films, maybe never to watch them again. Basically, it becomes a choice between not watching the films or downloading them illegally. Give my the ability to pay for Hulu+ and I wouldn’t even think twice. $8 per month is very little to ask for unlimited access to such fine films, and I’d gladly pay double that price if I was able. Unfortunately I’m not able and so I choose to expand my cinematic knowledge by being a pirate.

And I need to stress how important the cross-border issue is. Take Justified, for example. Until very recently, except on DVD, the show was simply unavailable in Canada. This can’t happen. There is no reason that in the new flat world of the internet we should still be hampered by regional distribution issues. Make everything available everywhere at the same time and you’re bound to see a huge drop in online piracy straight away.

Now, while I stress that I’m not trying to give justification for my piracy and that I don’t feel any serious sense of entitlement to this content (beyond believing copyrights last too long), I do think that there’s a lesson to learn in my reasons for downloading. It doesn’t so much come down to me enjoying “stealing” films. I’m also not a cheap jerk who refuses to pay for any content ever (and I do know a few people like that). I am sitting here, pockets open, willing to pay. But I can’t afford everything if it’s all too expensive, and I certainly can’t pay when I don’t even have the ability. Essentially, I pirate largely because it’s easy and open, not strictly because it’s free.

What distributors and copyright holders need to understand is that they shouldn’t need to focus so hard on stopping piracy outright. They never will because it’s simply impossible. Piracy has been going on well before the internet and it will only get easier to do in the future. Instead, what they need to do is change their entire outlook on the issue. In an age where media scarcity literally does not exist anymore, copyright holders need to free up their content. They need to make sure that everyone everywhere has easy and affordable access to it. Attempting to artificially create scarcity of media is pointless and it only causes people like me to turn to piracy where that media is available without much hassle. The idea shouldn’t be to stop piracy but to compete with it. To offer a better, easier option.

I used to download music illegally, but eventually the iTunes service truly became the best value. Sure, I can still download music for free, but the iTunes iCloud service, which allows me to download a DRM-free album as many times as I like to both my computer and iPhone makes it totally worth the $10. I now don’t have to worry a lick about accidentally deleting my music because I know I can always get it again from the cloud, and though the quality is not as good as CD, I ripped my CDs at iTunes lossy quality anyway. I can download from my phone or my computer quickly and easily and I gladly pay for it. Apple figured out how to do it, and their method practically saved the entire music industry from the brink of total collapse.

Film and TV distributors—and to a lesser extent, e-book publishers—need to follow suit. And ISPs need to get their act together as well. There needs to be an ecosystem which allows me, the content consumer, to watch what I want, when I want, where I want and all for a price I can actually afford. Because if not then piracy will always be there to fill in the “what” and most of the “when” and make up the difference by being free. Compete against that. It’s not so difficult. That’s how you’ll stop me from pirating, and I’m sure it’s how you’ll stop most people in general from pirating.


24 responses to Why I Pirate


    How is downloading something illegally saving your bandwidth any more than streaming it on Netflix or iTunes? Bandwidth caps are a problem, I’ll admit.


      Well, that partly comes down to a mental issue, but also to some actual differences. The mental issue is that it’s way too easy to sit in front of Netflix on my TV all day and run up against the cap without noticing. That’s a serious concern. With downloading on my computer, I don’t do it too frequently and I have a good idea of the file sizes, so I am less worried. The actual difference is also one of file-size vs quality. If I’m paying for Netflix I want to use it to its fullest and stream in HD and all that jazz. If in order to use Netflix with my current ISP I need to watch in quality that looks worse that illegally downloaded files of equal or smaller file size, then I might as well just download illegally.

      This is really a Canadian ISP/CRTC issue, and I don’t blame services like Netflix for it at all. I could go on and on about how we’re getting screwed over in Canada by the ISPs and the regulator. But what it comes down to is a matter of comparison. If I lived in the US I would pay exactly the same amount for Netflix and get much better quality service (nevermind more content). That quality of service is available on Netflix in Canada as well. We pay for it. It’s there, but only theoretically. And you may say that I should switch to an independent ISP like TekSavvy, but unfortunately where I live I don’t have those companies as options.

      As for iTunes. The quality of iTunes video is great, but the file sizes are far too large for me to use them as a regular provider. And that’s without even considering the significantly higher cost.


    I more or less agree with what you’re saying here. I do feel bad when I download or stream content illegally, but sometimes it is my only option. I tried using Netflix but at the moment the UK version is pretty crappy with not very many things to choose from. I’ve heard that the US version is pretty great and has practically everything that you could ever want to watch, so I know that if they made that available here I’d definitely use it. I also used to download music illegally, but now I pay for Spotify which suits me just fine.

    Regarding television, I don’t watch a lot of shows so I don’t actually have a TV at home because I can’t justify the cost of the TV licence and of digital/cable services. That’s why some kind of on-demand online service would be much better for me. Fingers crossed that Netflix UK will get its act together sometime soon.


      I would LOVE to have Spotify, but it’s not available in Canada, and due to objections from record labels and artist unions we probably won’t get it any time soon, if ever. It’s so annoying that these groups don’t see the value in actually allowing greater access to the content they own.


    Pirate first, pay later.


    For me the affordability standard is something like $10 at most for a one-off viewing of a newish film, $3-4 max for an slightly older rental (ideally around the $1 Redbox price range after enough time). I certainly won’t pay more than $20 to own a DVD and usually that’s only for the best treatments like Criterion, $10-15 is a much more reasonable purchase price. Any higher than that is an unreasonable cost. TV shows and box-sets on DVD are actually the biggest offenders which is why I have very few of them.

    For the rest there’s a clear cut “if you don’t sell it, I can’t steal it” policy. The whole structure of our civil law system is damages and for all those films not on sale in the US, there are no monetary damages from downloading it. I’d be tempted to apply this to all the limited release films that never get to me theatrically, but I expect it’s reasonable to give them a year to get them onto DVD, even though it is stupid for them to take so long to serve the majority of the audience that doesn’t live in the couple largest cities. No limited release film should be without a simultaneous on-demand release.


      Well, the problem of limited releases is interesting. I think you’re going to see more and more day and date on-demand for indie movies, but for slightly bigger indie films the limited release pattern is still a profitable method. The idea is to open small in a couple cities to get high per-screen averages and build some good word so that they can then open wider later on. But yes, I think what will start to happen soon enough is that even for those bigger indies you’ll have maybe a couple weeks in the big markets to build the buzz and then an on-demand or streaming premiere to capitalize on that buzz quickly and in a cheap, widespread way. Of course, on-demand is nice for you Americans, but we in Canada don’t get those day and date on-demand releases. So annoying.


    The problem with creating an ecosystem that allows you to watch what you want when you want is that it is impossible to meet everyone’s taste. Also, what would be the acceptable price to pay for such a service? If The Movie Network is $20 a month, an all-in-one service would have cost close to $100. The majority of the titles would also have to be mainstream films as, speaking from a strictly financial standpoint, the only way a company would be able to make money is by appealing to the masses. The average movie watcher will be looking for the latest blockbusters and not classic Godard. The one complaint many non-film buffs I work with have with Netflix Canada is that it does not have enough of the recent “hit” titles. While I agree that the Netflix selection pales in comparison to the U.S. version, we really need to keep it all in perspective. The amount of selection we get, include a few Criterion titles etc., for only $8 is a fantastic bargain. It cost more than that to buy just one DVD or rent two movies. Even if we factor in our internet cost (say it is $50), the fact that you are getting over a hundred titles for $58 means we are paying only $1.70 per film.

    The real dilemma with piracy is that is has become an acceptable crime in our society. The rapid rate at which technology has evolved has given us all a false sense of entitlement. If we want to see, hear, or read something then nothing should stop us from doing so right away. It is going to be tough for studios to change this growing mentality especially when people can watch pirated films on their phones and tablet devices.


      You’re right that ecosystem is a problem, and I’ll admit that it may not be possible to literally offer everything to everyone, that should be the ideal being strived for. As for price, I would gladly pay $50 or more for content. I think that one of the things these companies need to start considering is tiered pricing based on hours watched rather than potential amount of content. It’s stupid to pay crazy sums of money for 100s of channels where you only watch a couple hours a day on about 10 channels. By the same token it’s crazy to me that I could theoretically pay $8 per month and get roughly the same amount of content. The first model is gouging and antiquated and is slowly dying. The second model is new and on the right track, but unsustainable.

      As for entitlement, I do think that many people come to it with a sense of entitlement. But I’d say far more people come to piracy due more to availability. 30 years ago it was much harder to pirate or bootleg a film. The only option was to be at the mercy of distribution and copyright holders. Legal or not, Internet piracy has changed that. There IS another option. You CAN watch the material you want if you really want to. This may partly seem like entitlement, but I’d say it also shines a light on how copyright holders try to artificially manufacture scarcity, and it’s coming back to bite them in the ass. I am a customer and I demand content and I’m willing to pay for it, meet my demand instead of letting me turn to piracy.


    I kind of agree with you Corey, and added your ISP cap issue in Canada does add a degree of Fucked Up ness to it all…

    I started using Netflix as of January this year and since then my level of plundering has decreased astronomically. I’ve always said that as long as I’m working and have the cash to spare I’m happy to pay for my movie addiction, via theatrical visits, DVD/BluRays & Online services. But some small facts to keep in mind for me in particular:

    1. I do not live in the US/UK/Canada. I live in the Caribbean. We are blocked out of these online services. I’ve just started using netflix because on top of paying the $8/month for streaming I pay $50/year for a proxy service that “tricks” netflix into believing that my PS3 is connecting via the US.

    2. DVD/Blurays cost double in stores here and if I buy from Amazon (which I generally do) I either have to wait 2 months to receive a bluray directly or pay an additional shipping charge to have a go through mailing service with a company which gives me a Miami address to use (which I do)

    3. Movies aren’t released here that I want to see. Well they are. I watch 2/3 movies a week at the cinema and very few I avoid now to (a) keep be busy; and (b) keep me informed on my latest life obsession that I believe will never go away. But there are still some choice titles that just aren’t getting released… like The Artist, A Separation, etc.

    I do pirate from time to time, mostly TV, older films and more obscure titles that I just wont see before DVD release. I do do a lot of piracy and later purchasing because I’ve decided that this is something I want after the fact.

    I could take the moral high ground and know that I don’t deserve this content and if the businessman has decided to ignore me I should accept that and move on, but sadly I’ve not reached such an aloof point in my life yet. I hope for a time when all these roadblocks will be out of my way such that everything I do consume I can pay for and do so legally and within my means.


      You’re a perfect example of what I’m talking about. You’re essentially paying $50 per year plus whatever your ISP charges to be able to give more money to a service you aren’t even technically being offered. Netflix could never count it as a loss if you didn’t do that, but they certainly count it as a gain that you do. This ignores the local copyright holders, of course, but then if they’re losing out on your potential dollars they should offer a means to meet your demand.

      And that’s where your statement about not actually deserving the content comes into play. No, you don’t “deserve” access to this content, but as technology progresses there is less and less reason for your demand not to be met. 80 years ago there was no TV and to show a film you had to physically ship a print to a place with a cinema and a big enough audience to make it worthwhile. It made sense to accept that some stuff just would get out to you if you lived in a more remote place. But these days there is no reason not to offer access to content to anybody with a broadband connection. So long as you have that, region shouldn’t matter because physical issues are not a barrier.

      So yeah, we don’t deserve the content, but if we’re willing to pay, why not offer it to us?


        BTW. this idea of access restrictions is new. As a child my parents, instead of cable, had a satellite dish and subscribed to channels every year. In order to do so we had to use a dummy address within the US (based on a service we paid for) in order to get the right codes to access the channels legally.


    I don’t pirate movies. I’m not sure why, I don’t really like watching them on my laptop that’s all. But I think you’re absolutely right about companies needing to make content easily available. They must compete with piracy and stop putting anti-piracy ads all over a DVD I’ve just frigging bouught or on a cinema screen I’ve just frigging paid to sit in front of. I think the time for consumer choice is now. They need to start releasing movies in anyway they can to make a quick buck from the films. Release them on cinema, dvd, interent days apart. Do whatever it takes to keep consumers happy and forking out. Great piece man!


      I really don’t pirate movies very often, and for the same reason as you. I’m more of a TV guy when it comes to downloading. The way the industry approaches piracy is to try as hard as possible to go back the other way.

      It’s also notable that even internet services like Netflix create problems. Because Netflix has to get licenses to play content, they can’t play everything. And that’s how you get a situation like with gaming consoles, only much worse. What you’re going to see is the prices for these streaming services going up, and to have access to most of the stuff you’ll want to watch you’re going to need to subscribe to all of them and make sure you have the equipment to play them all. And even then you’re likely to get stuff that’s exclusively on iTunes, which can only be watched on the Apple TV, and even THEN you’re likely to be missing stuff.

      It was never like this with DVD, at least in theory. Sure, you wouldn’t always have access to everything on DVD, but it was there in theory. As long as you had a DVD player and access to DVDs you could find almost any film you wanted without worrying about movies expiring or having the wrong equipment. You always understood that the limitations were what your rental or video store had, and then sites like Amazon opened up the limitations by quite a bit. But with internet streaming there’s just no reason not to have access to everything, but copyright holders and streamers love things like exclusive licenses because they get more money out of it. Unfortunately it’s at the expense of what consumers actually want.


    Personally, the only films I have ever pirated before are films that have little to no chance of ever getting a theatrical or DVD release in America.

    Otherwise, it’s bad!


    All these words just to say “I pirate because I’m a terrible person.” 😛

    And lossy?!!?!? Really? Do you hate your ears? Ugg. Although, if you’re listening to music with crappy Apple, earbuds, I guess it hardly matters anyway.

    You are stuck in a pretty crappy situation, but I still think you have access to plenty of films you could be watching instead of pirating stuff, especially given that until recently you’ve bought Criterions you haven’t even watched yet. For shame, good sir, for shame.


    Netflix? Hah! You want me to pay for a service that probably doesn’t have what I want to watch AND have to hack my browser to spoof the UA and bypass DRM restrictions on Linux? You’re crazy. You want me to pay £20 for a “BluRay” that is not only ridiculously expensive but also restricted by DRM and requires hacking to
    a.) Get it to play under Linux
    and even more hacking (meddling with Encryption keys, etc) to
    b.) Do perfectly legitimate things like burn to my drive so I can convert it with a tool like Transmageddon to run under different devices like my smart TV?
    Or I could buy those crappy DVDs that have inferior quality and get scratched to pieces after a couple of months.
    Or I could just pirate it all for free, no DRM, no crap.
    Maybe when you give me a viable solution that gives me what I want to view, when I want to view it, where I want to view it, without “restrictions” at sane prices then maybe I’ll consider it. Until then, screw you. I’ll make sure not to buy any of your products, especially when you put ads on them. Honestly, how can you advertise on a product the consumer has paid for?!!


      Uhhh. It’s not my fault you’re using Linux, which isn’t supported by most mainstream apps. And while I agree that DRM sucks, you do have to realize that under current copyright law, owning a physical copy of something doesn’t mean you have a license to do whatever you want with it. For example, just because you own a Blu-ray it doesn’t mean you can screen it publicly, and you certainly can’t charge to screen it publicly without purchasing license. I’m not totally a fan of this either, but it’s the way the law works. I buy Blu-ray so I can watch movies in high quality on my nice TV or projection system, not to copy to my Linux computer to stream to my TV in lower quality. And if you don’t want to pay the prices for Blu-rays, they do still release DVDs. If you want the higher quality you have to pay. That’s not too unreasonable.


        Neither is it my fault Windows and Mac are bloated, malware-filled pieces of crap. That doesn’t mean I have to use it! And I’m not trying to screen it publicly. All I want to do is have a copy of it in a format that isn’t governed by some crazed party of companies that call themselves the MPEG-LA group, on a media that is encrypted and DRM-restricted, knowing I won’t be able to watch it anymore in about 10 years time. An open-coded file on a drive is practically timeless, and will last me as long as I can be bothered to back it up on external drives. And it is perfectly legal to view a file you already own on a different device.
        Also, what are you going on about when you say “not to copy to my Linux computer to stream to my TV in lower quality”, lower quality?!! What are you going on about? It’s the same bloomin’ file for goodness sake! You clearly don’t know a lot about computers if you claim that the same file, at the same resolution with the same bitrate, will look better on a BluRay than an HDD. Even if I code it to another format like mkv or webm, it would still be the same quality.
        Why on Earth would I pay an exorbitant amount of money for a BluRay when half-decent companies give me the same video at the same quality for half the price or less?!!


          When you said “converted” I assumed you meant converted and compressing to a smaller file size. My mistake. And when I said you can’t screen publicly, I was only giving an example of how your rights to the content are not the same as your rights as an owner of physical property.

          And while it’s perfectly legal to view media on various devices you own, the legality of copying content depends purely on the terms of the license and there is some debate there. I obviously agree that DRM is bad and that the ability to copy and view on various devices should be encouraged, but the copyright holders argue that it’s well within their rights to dictate how you view their copyrighted material, and to certain degree they aren’t wrong. They do own the rights to the content, after all. That can include the prerogative to charge for each form of media that material inhabits. They can charge you once for the DVD, once for the Blu-ray, once for the digital file, once for the direct stream and so on. I find it silly to do those things in this day and age, and I think your point of view only proves that the unwillingness to offer open formats and allow copying does more to encourage piracy than prevent it.

          That being said, your pirating of the material in response is not justified morally or legally. The media is still there in most cases, relatively easily consumed. It’s not difficult to stick a Blu-ray or a DVD in a Blu-ray player connected to your TV, and it’s certainly more foolproof than messing about with converting files to work with a Linux-based PC media centre. You’re choosing to go a route with the media that requires more back-end effort that really isn’t necessary for any ends except your own front-end convenience and satisfaction. The copyright holders and companies do not owe it to you to make this roundabout consumption of their content easy, and it not being easy is hardly a justification for pirating, and it certainly doesn’t make it legal in any respect.

          As for paying exorbitant prices for Blu-ray, I think that’s a slightly different issue. First of all, I know of no companies that offer the same video at the same quality for half the price or less (disregarding variable pricing). Unless there’s some site I don’t know about where you can legally download a 49GB file of David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Blu-ray is the current top-of-the-line, and if you want that level of quality that’s your choice and you should be willing to pay a premium. If you’re not willing to pay, that’s ultimately your problem.

          I do prefer to pay, and I mostly don’t pay crazy prices, and that’s even in Canada where the prices are generally a lot higher than in the US. Other than certain specialty outfits like Criterion, or specific collectors sets, I try never to pay more than $20 for a Blu-ray and I’m usually successful, often finding great deals like 2 for $20 on really good movies. Here and there my impatience gets the better of me, like when I bought Inception for $25 because I wanted it right away. But that’s on me. I could have waited a couple months and found it for $10. The only other Blu-ray’s I pay a lot for are Disney animated films. Those tend not to lower in price (often getting more expensive after first week), but because I love those films and want to have them on my shelf in a nice neat chronological row, I’m willing to pay the $29 plus tax.

          I don’t have to do this. Even sticking with DRM I could watch pretty high quality HD version of those movies through iTunes on my TV at rental price. In those cases I prefer to buy the movies for my own reasons. And that’s the main issue, I have my own reasons for why I’m willing to pay for content and how much I’m willing to spend. I know people who don’t care for movies and would rather not pay for them because they don’t get much value. They don’t watch many movies. That’s their choice. My problem rests with people who love movies and watch a ton of them but are still patently unwilling to spend. Many of these people make the same claims about DRM and locking as you do, but I think that’s a smokescreen. It’s a non-issue. DRM sucks, but so long as studios are paranoid, DRM will exist, which is to say it’ll always be there, and it’s fairly easy to deal with these days.

          It’s one thing to complain that content is unavailable and so you resort to piracy. You could also say you’re too broke to afford it so you resort to piracy. You could even say that you take the moral position that all media should be free for consumption by the public (which I do when it comes to older films that realistically should have had lapsed copyright by now) and at least you’d be taking a moral stand. But you cannot tell me that you are morally right to resort to piracy just because Netflix doesn’t have literally every movie ever made and Blu-ray’s are difficult to hack (not remotely impossible) in order to play on your media PC or Smart TV or other devices for which the format was not made.

          Know that I sympathize with you in terms of the ultimate choice to pirate. I get it. I pirate, too. That’s what my whole piece was about. My reasons. But they are reasons, not justifications. I know what I’m doing is wrong, both legally and morally, and I do it anyway. But there’s also the issue of reasonability. I say to the studios, make as much of the content you have available online in reasonable quality and for good prices with various models (subscription or rental or purchase) and I will gladly attempt to pay for everything I consume. That sounds reasonable to me. I recently got Netflix and already I’m pirating less. Your position seems a little more stand-off-ish. It’s not just an issue of making it all available and at reasonable quality, but making it available in specifically the way you want it for the non-standard methods you choose and in ways you know they are extremely unlikely to ever support. It’s like you’re backing them into a corner and then shooting them when they can’t escape. Give them some breathing room. They don’t owe you the things you are asking for beyond simply making the content reasonably available.

          (As a side note, I’m treating you respectfully despite your unnecessarily confrontational tone. If you want to continue having an intelligent discussion about the potential moral or legal justifications for piracy, I’m totally willing to take part, but try to be nice about it. I know it’s the internet, but that doesn’t have to be an excuse for sounding like an anonymous jerk in the comments section of a personal blog.)


            BluRays are expensive. This is a huge price difference from the same company, and trust me, it’s even more expensive in the UK, particularly in retail stores like PCWorld.
            I do agree with some of what you say, but this has, like the original blog, nothing to do with morality (which is completely subjective and largely irrelevant to discuss in this subject) but with the simple case of vendors providing products that give a crappy user experience, and at prices to boot.

            As to whether “piracy” is morally and legally acceptable, it’s actually very complicated. Because, the digital world should have the same laws as the physical world right?

            Book piracy? Honestly, have these lawyers ever heard of a Library?! It must make it impossible for them to sleep at night, knowing how many children and old people get to read nice books for free, clearly that must be a breach of intellectual property and must be sued for fantastical amounts of money!

            TV piracy? You mean to tell me, that after I pay hefty subscriptions to Virgin Media so I can watch HD 3D video on my TiVo and my 42″ (105cm) 1920*1080p, 3D smart TV, I have to pay yet again to view the exact same content on the Internet?!! Content which I legally already pay for?

            Film piracy? I don’t really pirate that many, but even so, if I can’t donate it to a library, or sell it to someone else for cheap because I don’t like it anymore, what choice do have?

            Music piracy? Frankly, I don’t think most of the pop music today is worth pirating, but even so, most musicians that I know of make money of concerts and radio, and don’t really care that much about piracy. Quite the opposite, the more people they have listening, the more likely it is they’ll make more money of concerts and have a greater chance of hitting the radio!

            And anyway, shouldn’t we have online libraries? What’s wrong with that?

            BTW, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper to buy a VM subscription that bother with BluRay. At least you can record your favourite HD shows legally and easily, without having to hack everything to death with FVD-like browser add-ons and pesky little command line tools like flvstreamer and get-iplayer to download series and films from sites like Netflix and to a lesser degree, sites like YouTube. And yes, I am a hacker, I have hacked games, and websites, and school networks… But that’s another story.

            Anyhow, I apologise if I came out as unnecessarily confrontational, it is something I get quite irritated about unfortunately.


              Yeah, I think we agree more than not. The morality of any of the piracy and it really is an issue of personal justification. What’s clear is that the entertainment industries are too closed minded about the idea that supporting open platforms is actually beneficial to them and would curb a lot of piracy.

              Your position as a hacker is an interesting one, which signals a bit of a different approach. It’s not so much about the content itself at that point, but about how you can exploit the media to access that content at its most basic and direct level. Clearly that kind of approach isn’t supported by the industry, and in a way it makes sense not to make that stuff easy. Looking at Blu-ray, for example. or even DVD, sure there’s DRM, but that’s not even the biggest barrier to the kinds of things you’re doing. For you it might be, but for most the very idea of finding the software to rip and convert and organize is difficult enough.

              The nice thing about the physical format is that with few exceptions it’s really easy. You want to watch a Blu-ray? All you need is a TV, a Blu-ray player and the disc. Forgetting cost, the actual implementation is simple and standardized and from a consumer perspective that’s great.

              Streaming and On Demand is a slightly different ballgame, and in some ways it’s a bit of a step backwards at the moment. There are so many providers and sellers and subscription services and there’s a lot of crossover content and a lot of exclusive content, and even if you chose to use every single one you would still see gaps in available content. I can almost see a future where TV services die away and are replaced by IP services and subscriptions to various providers like Netflix and Hulu, almost like premium HBO-style channels, but all on-demand. The problem with this, particularly at present, is that it’s quite complicated for the average consumer. Hell, it’s complicated for me!

              Also, the issue of piracy being equivalent to physical theft is a false one. They are not the same thing. If I steal a book from you then I have deprived you of the profits you might have made from me or someone else buying it. If I sit in your bookstore and copy a book out line by line that is similar to piracy (though with a lot more effort). Essentially, I’m depriving you of MY money, but I’m not depriving you of the book itself on which you can still make a profit (or derive personal enjoyment from for that matter).

              There are different morals and laws that apply to piracy, and with the boon of the digital age, the nature of what piracy means and the effect it has is still a little up in the air. It’s difficult to define precisely what’s right and wrong. Sort of like the wild west. I’m sure it’ll settle down at some point, but unfortunately the direction I see it headed in is one of very very tight and unreasonable legislation to protect only the interests of major corporations at the expense of citizens. I hope I’m wrong on that, but if the legal evolution of copyright terms is any indication, I’m probably right on the money.


    I am so bored of people whining about Unity and Gnome 3. Believe it or not, there are many people who actually like those interfaces, after all, not every one wants to live in a computing strategy of clicking half a dozen times or more until you find the application you want, or putting two taskbars at the top and bottom in a world of widescreen displays, or just plain looking like it’s right from the Cretaceous. If you don’t work well with these new interfaces, fine, it’s Linux- you can easily stick a new DE on it. Something which you can’t do in one particularly horrible OS called Windows 8, and that ludicrous motley of two different interfaces stuck together.
    Why can’t you just leave it at “Linux Mint is a great distro” instead of saying “Linux Mint is the best distro ever with the largest user base and Gnome 3 and Unity suck” which is
    a.) False. The Distrowatch statistics are well known for being inaccurate and
    b.) Based on subjective opinion.
    I agree the above post was too short to be considered a proper review, more like a quick run-through of the OS’ features.

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