On the Internet We Are All Somalis

My name is Sol O’Rielly, and I am an internet pirate.

Though SOPA and PIPA have been stopped, it is just a temporary reprieve, the issue of copyright protection vs. net neutrality will not go away anytime soon, nor should it. Despite my confession I deeply believe something should be done about illegal downloading. I just disagreed with the draconian “Team America : World Police”, “Corporations are People” conditions within the aforementioned bills.

I am more like The Pirates of the Caribbean in that I have my own “Pirates Code”. If there is a movie I really want to see, or a game I really want to play, such as Harry Potter or Skyrim respectively, I am more than happy to dish out the hard earned cash in order to buy it legally. On the other hand if its something I’m not sure of, or only sort of want then I’m likely to go to Demonoid, Pirate’s Bay, or somewhere to torrent it. Sometimes afterwards I may buy, but more often than not it stays on my Harddrive, or if I found it less than satisfactory deleted.  A couple of times I’ve lost a CD, and rather than repurchasing a replacement I download it.

No, I’m talking about the titular Internet Somali Pirates, whose first instinct is to download something, and rarely if ever actually spend money on their entertainment products. Those people I’m sad to say to say are usually males in theirs 20-30s and largely ah, “nerds”. My problem with this is this. It takes months-years of people’s lives to make a movie, video game, TV shows etc etc. Now they still get paid, even with the rampant piracy, but I question who it feels to invest so much of your time, and yourself into a product only to see it taken for granted. I could go at length, iunto how being reduced to a user name and a series of numbers makes us feel secure, but I’m not going to. Though to be honest, I feel a lot of pirates don’t really know what all the work that goes into it, or simply don’t care. Many may point to the prices of tickets as a justification for their kleptomania, well my mother deals with bringing in independent films, and I know some people who work in movies. Theatres don’t make very much on ticket prices, a majority of it goes to paying the distributors and other fees, most of their profits come from that over-priced popcorn and pop.

This article shows one of the effects of online piracy. I bet if the people who downloaded HP8, The Dark Knight, Transformers or the others in the first 5 days, or even earlier as there are usually leaked online copies, had actually seen them in theatre they would be way higher, as those top 5 movies I believe have a significant population overlap with those most likely to download their films. Looking at the Box office numbers for Scott Pilgrim vs the World, which was a good film, buts its problem was its target demographic. While I’m not entirely sure how reliable these numbers are, they show that the movie was more popular than its earnings indicate, but it made the mistake to aiming at the nerdy demographic alone, and people reward Edgar Wright with… not much.

Indeed, it is not just the traditional media of movies, music and even books that have been negatively impacted by the epidemic of torrenting, but even the new media, Gaming. Some of you may look at that aforementioned article about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and ask me how has the game industry been scathed.  A breakdown of those sales figures, was harder to track down then I thought, but I would bet anything a majority of those sales figures were for the console versions of the game. Why? Because console games have such protection that it is virtually impossible to get and use an illegal copy on an Xbox360 or a Playstation 3. In contrast many within the player base and the industry have commented on the decline of PC Gaming. In order to protect their product many Game producers place DRM, Digital Rights Management software, which is often intrusive on your computer, leading to public outcry. Also its often not that hard to work around, so in some ways companies encourage what they’re trying to fight against. Also the price requirements for a good quality gaming machine prevent a barrier for some in the public to get into computer gaming. Though there have been a few good quality PC Exclusives, or intended for PC Games over the past few years like Starcraft 2, and Dragon Age: Origins, PC gamers often find themselves getting the short end of the stick from companies in order to combat piracy. Often a PC version, if there even is one, will come out weeks to months after its console counterparts. Steam has helped by providing a cheap downloading portal, and social media area.

Now, I regret to say I don’t have an answer on how we can keep both the Companies, and Public happy, but I’m sure there is one as the status quo as is isn’t working, nor can we swing too far as SOPA/PIPA demonstrated.

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3 responses to “On the Internet We Are All Somalis

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