Slumming in the Reddit forum r/Piracy recently, we stumbled upon a surprising debate. “Is there anything you wouldn’t pirate?” suspicious_carl asked. The responding pirates fall into four categories. Only one is worth saving.
Asshats revel in piracy as if it were merely mischief instead of causing a great deal of harm. We can almost hear them cackling as they mistake stupid comments for clever jokes.
For instance, Ty0305 said, “Ill pirate anything. Dont care if its being sold for 50 cents.” This asshat has no appreciation for creatives’ time and effort.
Likewise, Subject-Ad-1946 said, “I wouldn’t pirate an nft, but I’d copy and paste it.” Copy/pasting is how some people have been minting NFTs of others’ art or music. It’s still piracy.
Lilmoviee, fearless leader of this merry band of asshats, wrote, “I would pirate my own mom.” Honest, perhaps – but stupid at best and definitely not what we like to hear.
As creatives know, piracy is not a joke. It costs the U.S. economy at least $29.2 billion and 230,000 jobs per year. It also exposes devices to malware and funds organized crime. Asshats clearly either don’t know or don’t care.
Wheedlers reek of entitlement as they try to cut a deal. Their unilateral “pay-what-we-want” proposals would put creatives on the street.
Suggesting a highly personalized economic model, Stellarspace1234 wrote, “If they fixed the problems with the software, then I’d pay for it.” How could developers afford to, since they wouldn’t earn money until his royal highness Stellarspace1234 was satisfied?
Meanwhile, Andycubz would buy “[a]nything that’s not overpriced.” Apparently, pricing according to Andycubz’s preferences should be a higher priority.
The user m0h1tkumaar sent rightsholders a similar message: “I would not pirate if you get your pricing in order.” Can you hear the whiny tone? This wheedler is no Darth Vader. A real badass would simply say, “I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.” But m0h1tkumaar? They won’t take responsibility for their actions.
Hypocrites will pay for content from independent creatives, but not large creative conglomerates. They seem to realize that piracy is wrong but justify it with delusions of playing Robin Hood. Unfortunately, they’re deeply mistaken about who’s a small creative versus a large creative.
Consider boogaboom, who wrote, “I wouldn’t pirate music that I can buy on Bandcamp, especially for smaller artists that have a hard time being paid in peanuts by mainstream streaming services.” Truth is, small creatives play crucial roles throughout the music industry. They work as lyricists, composers, back-up singers, supporting instrumentalists, studio musicians, recording technicians, and more. None of them gets paid when boogaboom turns to piracy.
“Indie books from new authors” is where another hypocrite, xxxFading, draws the line. What’s an indie book, we wonder? Most professional authors are freelancers who earn compensation by fulfilling contracts. Even second-time authors and wildly successful ones still deserve to be paid for their work.
Overlapping with wheedlers, some hypocrites put conditions on supporting indie artists. Freshly_Brewed_Tea said, “I usually buy indie games and apps when I can afford to do it.” Like a classic wheedler, Freshly wants to conveniently (for them) set the price for someone else’s work.
Meanwhile, royrogerssmcfreely has always bought indie games – “unless the developer was a real scumbag.” How can small creatives figure out which developers royrogerssmcfreely, a wheedling hypocrite, does or doesn’t like?
This false moralizing is insufferable. Another offender is TheLoafLord, who said, “Pirating indie games will always be considered crossing a line to me. its their paycheck.” While it is commendable that TheLoafLord won’t steal from creatives they deem to be “indie,” we’ve got news for them. The entertainment software industry is made up of more than 11,000 businesses employing over 428,000 people – and yes, even the non-indie developers are made up of individual hard-working creatives. All their paychecks depend on legal sales or ad-supported services.
Piracy endangers jobs. Period.
Unicorns understand – and care – how much creatives are struggling in an age of unaccountable platforms. Because such perspectives are downvoted into oblivion, unicorns are an endangered species.
We thought we might have glimpsed a unicorn when eye_gargle refused to pirate “[g]ames for my Steam Deck [portable console].” Since eye_gargle fled the downvotes without further explanation, we can’t be sure that this user isn’t a wheedler or hypocrite, though.
HiDk earned a downvote for saying, “I wouldn’t pirate any From Software [a popular brand] game 🙂 I even buy them on multiple platforms.” Does HiDk spend money this way to support creatives, or does HiDk have a hoarding compulsion? They might be a rhinoceros as opposed to an actual unicorn.
But we’re certain we spotted at least one unicorn. The user ayuuhx wrote, “I don’t like to use adblocks on YouTube. I want to watch the ads on the videos of my fav creators so I can contribute to their income, even if its negligible.” Although targeted ads are widely hated, ayuuhx endures them to avoid taking people’s work for free.
We didn’t expect to find any unicorns left. But can we keep them?
Even on the r/Piracy subreddit – which has the pro-torrent subtitle “seed more” – at least one person believes artists deserve pay for their content and the opportunity to earn a livelihood.
Maybe there’s still hope for a #CreativeFuture.