The relentless absurdity of piracy

It’s generally known that piracy tends to have not so positive side-effects. It’s a word that victimizes one group of people and makes others the cause of injustice and misery. One thing pirates got in common with their victims: they don’t want piracy to happen at all. What if they could get a fair chance at achieving what they wanted in the first place? But… who were we talking about again? Pirates?

Identifying the pirates

Piracy in terms of intellectual property is not a neologism. In fact, it has been around since the beginning of the 17th century according to wikipedia. It meant and still means: «the infringement of exclusive rights in creative works». To my knowledge, it is only recently that people started identifying with pirates. But why would you want to be like such horrible beings? Right, the image has become ridiculous and people tend to like sarcasm.

I will not write about how copyright corporations abuse the term to shoot at… well… everyone. Instead I wanted to know how people deal with the current legislation. Therefor we can introduce the term «corporate piracy», which means «the prevention of innovation and exploration of creative works by big corporations».

X ways of being a pirate

First of all, let’s see how we can become a pirate. There are tons of reasons for corporate pirates to be calling you a pirate:

1. Download music online

Or watch some movies on a popular site like youtube or vimeo which may contain copyrighted material.

2. Organise an event

And put on a radio! Or your collection of expensive CD’s! Or your collection of downloaded audiofiles, it doesn’t matter.

3. Reuse music in new material

This is my favourite way. Take 1000 songs and mash them up into a 10 minute movie which is an entirely new story! You’ll be fined for every song and the claim might be around 1billion$.

If none of these things has ever been done by you, I’m sure you once lend your friend a CD of yours. Technically speaking this is piracy as well.

Two ways of taking this system

Ignore the system, just do what you like, if you get caught, you’re one of the unlucky.

Hm. Not a good way of dealing with injustice, is it? Also, the law won’t change very soon. At least, not in the right way, so don’t put any hopes on that.

Patch the system

Don’t be a pirate! I often compare pirates to hippies. They both hate the system but instead of helping building a better society they ignore it. Let’s make this business healthy again instead, let’s find a new balance between consumers and creative products. Let’s find a way in which consumers can become artists.

If you’re an artist, let’s rule out the middleman. In fact, if your music is any good, you don’t need any protection of your music. Your real fans will buy your CD. Others will have a listen by hearing it on the radio, getting it over the Internet, by getting a CD of a friend… But don’t say these people are pirates for being curious! In fact, these people are the most important link in the chain of mouth-to-mouth advertising. Since no middleman need to be paid, the percent of the money paid by a consumer for a CD going to you, will increase enormously. Also songs bought online will have a much higher return. This will make up for the money not gained by songs played on parties or levies pulled on empty carriers or Internet connections.

If this incentive for a new business model appeals to you, you might want to take a look at what creative commons is all about. In 2012 I hope to start an organisation in Belgium which helps artists to take their music to consumers in a brand new way.

– Pieter



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