I already wrote about online piracy in 2013, 2014 and also more or less in 2016, it’s a subject I can’t really discuss freely because I’m not anonymous, even so, I can share some point of views related to file sharing.
The other articles are now dated but for the most part, you should read them if you want the bigger picture on my opinions and background.
First of all, you should understand that I know quite well the topic I’m going to write about. Just don’t ask me references or proof for obvious reasons.
Second, I’m going to write only about some aspects of online piracy, the ones which are closer to my heart.
I often say that everyone has seen or heard pirated content when using the internet, remember that fantastic old song someone uploaded to YouTube, well, that’s probably piracy unless the author got paid, same goes for old movies, series, etc. YouTube is beyond any doubt the new overpowered Napster, sadly most people just fail to understand that.
Pirates have many reasons to release content online, among many we got:
- Status and competition among pirates, “the first to release”, the “best quality”, “the best source”, “the best crack”, the list goes on and on.
- Economic “greed”, making money from ads, links, etc.
- Political activism, from free access to culture, to attacking the established system, everything goes.
- Collecting and trading rare content because fans will be fans.
- Lack of knowledge on the matters of copyright. Yes, I knew people who didn’t know they were committing an illegal act when they shared albums online.
- Criminal acts, like releasing pirated software as disguised bait to gain access to personal information, which then can be used for fraud and other illicit acts.
As for the persons who only consume piracy, we got reasons like:
- Collecting rare content because fans will be fans.
- Lack of access to the content, paywalls, etc. If the content is banned by your government and you really want to access it, piracy is the way to go.
- Lack of monetary income to access paid content, some people just don’t have enough money.
- “Bragging rights”, because some people are just dumb as fuck.
- People which are unwilling to pay full price for something they can find very easily for free.
Piracy accordingly to this probably biased report by MUSO didn’t diminish in 2017, even with cheaper streaming services like Netflix, Crunchyroll, Spotify, Tidal, and a growing list of legal content providers piracy just doesn’t go away easily.
Given the reasons above, it’s easy to see why not, but some piracy could be easily mitigated by better interaction between copyright owners and content providers.
On anime fansubs
Some anime series aren’t licensed globally by Crunchyroll and other services like Funimation, this means that people in Europe and other places who lack better options for accessing legal content are faced with 3 options:
- Use a paid VPN to watch a paid US service thus increasing the price.
- Buy the physical copies when nobody is watching anymore, killing most of the social fun of watching anime.
- Download/stream illegal fansubs.
I think most of us will agree that they’ll watch fansubs. I don’t blame them and would do the same, sure later I would buy the physical format of my favorite anime if (and that’s a big if) I could find it.
As for people who still preach anime fansubs aren’t piracy, well I think the Japanese studios might disagree with that one.
In the old days, anime fansubs were a niche thing and studios couldn’t care less, with the advent of high-speed internet connections, high-resolution encodes, and a heavier cultural impact on today’s generation, most studios now consider fansubs a menace to their way of doing business, with people who shared anime getting arrested for it, in a not very distant past.
Music and the collector’s niche
Streaming services like Spotify might have everything mainstream under the sun, but for example lack discographies from Japanese artists like “Maaya Sakamoto” or “Yoko Kanno“, and keep in mind these are not niche artists, these are legends at their craft.
I understand there’s competition between various services to license content and that it would be impossible to have every single artist, series or movie in one place. Sadly when there are no options, people will go the easiest route and that’s piracy.
To help out on the distribution of pirated music we got YouTube, which fests upon illegal content uploaded by its own users, makes money from it but doesn’t pay any type of royalty unless called on it (The European Article 13 addresses this problem, even if a bit of an overkill for amateur content creators).
This is the most insidious type of piracy and everyone and I mean everyone sooner or later will watch or hear it. It’s so imbued in social behavior that people refuse to accept most music content on YouTube is plain piracy.
Then we got collector’s sharing illegal content, be it high-resolution vinyl rips made by some Russian audiophiles, (something I totally support because in a way they protect music for future generations) or plain digital files in lossless.
These days, lossless is a bit of a niche thing, most people are more than happy with Mp3s and other lossy formats, so lossless is truly a collectors/fan thing and like I said before there are many reasons for that kind piracy.
Online file sharing will continue, even if the legal system provides an aggressive means of taking down piracy.
Because even if the mainstream user just wants a way of getting free stuff or bragging rights, for many others, it’s their only way of accessing the cultural content they love or the entertainment they collect.
Some would say people these days feel entitled to free stuff, I think people are entitled to culture because many of them will later give back to society, but that’s my naive side, deep down people just want free stuff.