Piracy Hurts the Other Little Guy

Piracy has become a hot button issue since the rise of digital media. It has become so commonplace that many people today have started to question, and even outright dismiss, the consequences of pirating TV, movies, e-books and games. This morally gray logic is inevitable in a period when many companies have less-than-evenhanded business practices. It is obvious that people who pirate media are certainly not all bad or even careless,, however that does not excuse anyone’s ignorance as to the consequences of their actions.

I will be the first to admit that not enough of the purchase price of media goes to the actual creators. Distributors, publishers, marketers, and stockholders all profit greatly off of other’s creations. However, piracy is to civil disobedience as looting was to the Rodney King protests. It’s not a bold stand against the evils of consumerism so much as it is just plain stealing other’s works. I am not presumptuous enough to say that piracy is wrong in every case – some people could not afford to watch HBO programs without the use of online hosting sites. That said, far too many pirate without consideration of the consequences. Many people pirate when they have the money to support the creators.

There is no question that piracy reduces the amount of resources studios and creative people have to craft further works. Society needs to provide for creative people in order to have any culture whatsoever. The Android app market is an extreme instance of piracy actively discouraging creation. Many developers disregard that platform due to its high rates of piracy. Digital Spy reported an 11 to 1 ratio of pirated copies to sales of ‘Football Manager Handheld’. In this kind of market it’s just not worth it for many studios to publish their games on Android devices.

Despite the overuse of the term in politics, small businesses exist and are the most threatened by piracy. Indie games developers, small time film studios, and lesser-known writers are among the most vulnerable to piracy. In many instances their next project’s completion hinges on the successful sales of their last film, book or game. Entire companies can collapse due to piracy in this way.

I can’t say what anyone should or shouldn’t do, but everyone should know the consequences of their actions. People need to actively support media they like and vote with their wallet. This is especially crucial in the case of smaller, more economically vulnerable creators. To support a studio or independent creator,buy digitally from their individual website; not from distributor stores like Gamestop or large online distributors like iTunes and Amazon. Everyone between the creator and the consumer takes a cut and shopping smartly can help to maximize one’s impact.

Illustration by Felicia Chang.

Illustration by Felicia Chang.

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