Why I Stopped Pirating And Started Paying For Media

Let's be honest for a second: most of us have illegally downloaded something in our lives. Maybe it was a song, some software, a game, or a movie. For a period I pirated everything I could. As technology pushed forward, it became less necessary, and now I don't even bother. Here's why.

Piracy affects pretty much every part of the entertainment industry from big corporations to independent creators. While pirating isn't always immoral (many people argue it's not a problem downloading a flick if you own a legal copy of it, for instance), it is illegal. While many pirates buy more, that doesn't mean they buy everything they pirate — and that hurts the industry, particularly when you're talking about independent creators. That didn't particularly matter to me, though, until I realised that it was easier for me to legally buy media than it was to pirate. Here's how I flipped the switch and why I started paying.

Why I Pirated To Begin With

The bulk of my pirating happened in the mid to late-2000s, during that awkward period when media companies were fighting the inevitable internet download ecosystem, and prices for digital versions were often higher than the boxed equivalents. It was a time when no one was really doing digital correctly, when experiments were happening everywhere, and when sites and stores were popping up (and being shut down) repeatedly. Essentially, if you wanted to go digital, nobody was making it easy for you.

Digital Was Confusing And Expensive

There was a point not that long ago when you couldn't rent a movie online and watch it on a TV, no matter where you lived in the world. In order to buy software you had to go through a tricky payment service and dump your credit card info on a dozen sites.

In short, you had to jump through a lot of hoops (and you still do to some extent). Some of those hoops left your data out in the open with brand new companies that had no track record for security. Others were almost just as risky. If you wanted to download software or games, you had to do it on the faith it would actually run because nobody offered refunds. So, I'd pirate a game or software, see if it worked on my ageing computer, and then never actually buy it. All I really needed to circumvent that was a good return policy from a credible store or a solid demo.

The same went for music. 98 per cent of my music piracy was just downloading copies of what I already owned on vinyl. Before download codes were included with records, you had to purchase an album twice if you wanted to listen to it on the go. As a (former) wannabe audiophile with a love for vinyl, this didn't fall within my tiny budget.

Basically, the lack of a consistent shopping ecosystem or any type of trial service made digital downloads a risk. Sure, shareware, demos and 30 second samples existed, but they were rarely helpful. It was just easier to pirate something than it was to get it legitimately.

Nobody Provided A Good Customer Experience

When digital downloads first started to catch on, media companies were quick to test out many varieties of digital rights management (DRM(. A lot of this DRM put absurd restrictions on the devices you could use, or worse, locked it onto one specific piece of hardware or software. This meant if you wanted to jump between devices, your content was stuck on old hardware. It wasn't (and still isn't) a good practice. Some of the bigger companies, like Apple, didn't ditch DRM until 2009, and that was just for music. Most places still have DRM on movies and TV shows. This was a culture shock to those of us who were used to having physical copies of media we could play on virtually any device.

Worse was the fact that even digitising your physical media was illegal in some cases. It's still not legal to rip a DVD you own, which means if you want a legal digital copy of Indiana Jones you're out of luck. It's 2013. That's absurd.

The other problem was the basic usability of anything you downloaded. Nobody wanted to watch movies on their computer, but with strict DRM everything was stuck there. Until set top boxes came along, the very idea of downloading and watching a movie wasn't a pleasant experience. It was a lot easier to just pirate something and use a media centre to watch movies or TV shows. Photo by David Chartier.

Why I Stopped Pirating And Went Legit

I'm not going to get on a soapbox and scream about taking the moral high ground to stop pirating. In fact, the main reason I stopped pirating is that these days, piracy takes too many steps. It's now a better experience to download something from a legitimate source than it is to pirate it. In fact, I hardly even noticed that I'd stopped pirating — it just kind of happened.

I Stopped Needing Everything Immediately

In 2013 you can buy digital copies of pretty much everything you want from reputable sellers the same day it's available in stores (in some cases, you can even do it before it's available in stores). Better still, if you wait a little while you can get them cheaply. Amazon, Google, Steam and Apple routinely have massive sales on everything they sell. Don't want to pay $60 for a game? Wait a few months. You can even read old Marvel comics through an inexpensive subscription service these days. It's the same discount system that works in chain stores, but it took a surprisingly long time to come to digital.

If you end up spending any amount of time getting your content delivered to you, you're wasting time that's better spent elsewhere. With the ecosystem we have now, it's a lot easier to stream or download legitimately than it is to pirate.

Media And Software Companies Made Everything Easier

It might have taken media companies a lot longer than it should have, but it's now incredibly easy to download anything you want, to any device, for a reasonable cost. These downloads sync across accounts (and more often than not, devices as well) so they're accessible everywhere. They have interfaces that are easy to understand and easy to use. Basically, it's finally easier to download something legally than it is to pirate it. I'm not outfitted with some crazy tech-y setup. All I have is a computer, a smartphone, a tablet, and some game consoles attached to my TV. With that, I have access to every medium I could possibly want:

  • Music: Streaming services like Spotify and Rdio make it easy to sample albums for free. Then, stores like iTunes and Big Pond Music make it simple to purchase and download anything I decide I want offline (although I rarely bother anymore). As well, sites like Bandcamp mean I can pay a band directly for an album if I don't feel like supporting a record label.
  • Movies: Movie companies haven't quite caught up to the rest of the industry with their services and they still have restrictive DRM on just about everything. If you buy a video on iTunes, it's only playable on certain devices. However, I realised I rarely watch movies more than a couple times, so it's cheaper — and quicker — to just rent or stream them than to download a permanent copy that sits on my hard drive. Choices in Australia don't match what the US has, but between iTunes, Quickflix, Big Pond Movies and Fetch, there are possibilities. For me, renting is the new buying. I know some people still want a big library of movies, but for many of us that just isn't as necessary as it once was. Renting it is cheaper unless you manage to watch it at least five times (which I rarely do anymore, save for a few of my favourites that I own).
  • Software and Games: With Steam, Xbox Live or PSN I can download almost any game I want right away. Likewise, with software stores such as the Mac App Store or Steam, it's easier to pay for software than it is to pirate it. For everything else, getting discounts is incredibly easy.

    Yes, some game companies (ahem, EA) are notorious for messing with DRM to the point where their games become unplayable. My solution? Don't buy from that company. Sorry, SimCity, but I'm not going to play you. That's a loss I'm willing to take. But pirating is certainly another way to send a message.

  • Books: With any ereader you get a dedicated ebook store. With something like a Kindle, everything you purchase is synced across all your devices. You can't do that with a pirated book. My favourite innovation is that you can download a preview of a book to see if you even like it before you purchase it. The one problem here is that ebooks can suddenly disappear. When you don't own a physical copy it might happen to one of your purchases at any time. That's worrisome, but thankfully stripping the DRM from ebooks is incredibly easy.

Piracy Wasn't Cost-Effective

Piracy is no longer free for most of us. If you use Usenet, you're generally paying $5 a month or more for access. With BitTorrent, these days, you absolutely have to have a VPN or proxy to avoid potential copyright busts. From there, you have to find what you're looking for, download it, piece together the download, and cross your fingers it's not a dud. Even setting up an automation service takes time (and remember, time is a "cost" too).

So, if you're getting music from Spotify for free (or $6.99 a month to cut the ads), and you're paying $14.99 a month for Quickflix, you're not saving that much money by torrenting unless you watch a lot a movies. Granted, no direct equivalents for software or games exist, but in time we may see new options. Books you can always snag from the library for free. If you consume media as I do, the legal services actually end up being about the same price with half the headache.

Of course, companies still do incredibly stupid things that end up accidently promoting piracy. DRM is still frustrating as hell, and it certainly took a while to break my habit of needing to own everything. But I'm happy I did. I have less clutter in my house, and less junk I'll never read, watch, play or listen to.


Comments

    Good article! Pirating doesn't stop because of the guilt induced by anti-piracy advertisements at the beginning of movies. It doesn't stop because of the threat of legal action.

    Provide a quality experience that is easy to use at a reasonable price and the majority will pay.

    And don't worry about the rest. They'd never buy the product anyway.

      Really good article. I also gave up pirating now that there are few significant excuses. At least for me. Clearly there will always be excuses for others.

    Easier to download legally than pirate - LOL!
    You must be a terrible pirate if you think that's the case.
    I know myself and most of my colleagues are of the same opinion - if it was as easy to download stuff legally as it is to use torrents and especially "newsgroups" then we'd probably pay the money.

      I should quantify this somewhat - I do now pay for all my music, since it is actually easier and cleaner than pirating, they still have a long way to go with TV eps and movies however...

        I'm quite the same with music, I pay for all the CDs (I like having a hard copy) but I also buy TV shows and movie DVDs. The only reason I still get downloaded copies of a movie I bought is that for some reason, the people who make those DVDs feel the need to make unskippable notices, ads for movies, etc. I'd rather have a copy I can just double click on and watch without having to wade past the language selection, the notices, the ads, and freakin' episode collection.

    There's still a gaping hole in the rationale there. We're missing TV shows.

    DRM on movies is still a massive restriction as well. It makes it very difficult to justify buying a film digitally, and it's still cheaper to go to blockbuster to rent a Blu-Ray than get a couple of HD digital VOD titles.

      iTunes has a lot of TV on it. Get a US and and Aus account, and an extra HDD and you are set.

        Isn't setting up an US account against the Terms and Conditions of using iTunes? Just like piracy...

        iTunes is useless unless you've got iDevices everywhere.

          An Apple TV box is all you need for TV and movies (rental and purchase) and music. I will never use an iPhone or iPod or anything else. But the Apple TV unit is quality and lets my family watch TV when I want and mostly how I want (Fox shows are slipping in ads at the front and back ends of some TV). Its surprising how vehemently people are against this concept. Live and learn.

        Still pricier than DVDs but. On the Australian side, anyway. And they're like $4 an episode for some shows, too.

    You had me at Big Pond Music.

    You're right that there's been an improvement over the past few years but here are some things that the media industry still needs to get right:
    - The ability to buy from iTunes without having to install the entire Apple ecosystem
    - Equivalent pricing. Why should Australians have to pay 70% more for music?
    - More titles on Bigpond and Bandcamp (local artists whose music I want to buy often don't have it available there)
    - Reduce prices for download movie rentals. It costs twice as much as renting from a video store or vending machine.
    - Get rid of the unskippable anti-piracy screens, copyright information & other stuff that nobody wants to watch before the start of a movie.

      Also: access to uncompressed music. Not many vendors supply to Australia, and not many Australian publishers supply much of anything (especially to the world at large).

        If you can get music you like from it Beatport is a good solution. You can grab all the tunes there in FLAC format. Of course it's primarily aimed at electronica for DJs to use so the music on it might not be what you're looking for.

      What 'ecosystem'? Install iTunes, click butan, done.

      It isn't like you are terraforming mars or installing GEOS.

        Ecosystem is probably a bit of an overstatement, but iTunes is full of bloat (Quicktime, update services, etc.) and I can completely understand why someone would want to avoid it.

          I can't.

            I can, most of it is absolutely useless to the majority of people.

            I don't want Quicktime, Updater, Bonjour. I want iTunes

              Yes. Most people don't realise that when you install iTunes it installs those other services that are running all the time, slowing down your PC, hogging memory and doing background updates (and only Apple knows what else it's doing). It's bloatware like this that forces people to upgrade their PCs every few years because "it's got slow" and it's totally unnecessary.

              iTunes also tries to take over as the default program for playing music and videos either. I don't want it and I don't need it. There is no valid reason for Apple requiring you to install it just to buy music from the iTunes web site - They only do it to force their software onto your PC.

                Oh. Come. On, Are you using a calculator for your computer? Be real.

                  It's a fact. iTunes and accompanying programs slow up your PC.

      -you just install a bit of software...iTunes..running it in windows, buy an AppleTV and plug it into your TV, use your WiFi network running from your PC...that's as far into the ecosystem as you need to tread.

        ... and watch your computer's start up time triple because installing Itunes isn't just installing one bit of software, it's actually 5 and 4 of them run automatically at startup even if you never want or need them.

          Seriously? My startup time is about 1min and I run a lot more than the bloat ware provided in the iTunes install. Windows anyone? Office???

            MS Office does not run anything at startup unless you use OneNote - and you have to actually run OneNote to enable that. Windows is... oh, forget it.

          You know your computer has services and these can be enabled, disabled, delayed, switched to manual, whatever you like, right? Press windows+r, enter services.msc, select the services you don't want to start, right click, select properties and change them to manual, surprise! No more issues with "Apple" screwing up your start-up times...

            A better solution would be to just uninstall the unnecessary applications, but I would rather just not use Itunes than have to go into any system settings :)

        Why should I buy an apple TV? I've already got a PS3, an Xbox, a DNLA compatable TV, and a Linux HTPC. Why can't I watch things I've bought on any one of those devices? There's no technical reason for it, it's purely to lock you into their ecosystem.

          Can you buy content legally to watch on those? If so - then why should you indeed? If not...

            And it goes back to the original point, which you seem to have at first challenged, but now ignored when provided proof, that Apple locks you into their ecosystem.

              I think the point is that its very possible to change your pirating ways...if you are willing to pay for content that cost money to make. iTunes is just one example of this for TV...about which several people seemed unaware and noted as an oversight from the original article.
              A number of other people seem to be saying its there right to obtain content however they choose. I think there was an article on here or Gizmodo recently noting how commonplace this sense of entitlement was. This article's comments have really exemplified it.

                I don't pirate. I am happy to pay what I feel is reasonable for convenience. If iTunes et al don't want to take my money and provide it then I just get it from elsewhere (like movies from a video store) or give it a miss and watch something else on TV.

      Why should Australians have to pay 70% more for music?" Because the legal arrangements in Australia are different to other countries. The cost of setting up an office here is significantly higher and the tax regime is completely different and there is no reason why customers in the US should be subsidising us, is there? Every multi-national business aims to be profitable in each country so if it costs more to be set-up here, then it is perfectly reasonable to expect prices to be higher here, even if we are all downloading the same content from the same servers. Even smaller companies like Spotify will have to have made different deals for different royalty rates for Australia so there is really no way we should expect to pay the same as anywhere else for this kind of stuff. I'd even suggest that companies have the same right to enjoy our strong economy as we do.

      The only area where it pisses me off is with eBooks because book publishers really do abuse the privilege. Kindle books are sometimes absurdly expensive so that the publisher can continue to sell hardbacks for $40-$50 for a month, then trade paperbacks for $30-$35 for another few months before releasing the paperback at a semi-reasonable price. If they bought their prices into line with physical products - a new release CD has always been more expensive than a paperback so there is no reason for an ebook to be more expensive than an album on X-Box Music. moreover, there has always been a legal way to read a book for free - public libraries and borrowing from family/friends - and publishers need to realise that the best way to get customers to pay for books is to price them reasonably. A book under $10 is an impulse buy for me but when I see a new Kindle book for $23 I will always choose to borrow it from my mate, who buys pretty much everything on pre-order before it released. But I would never use it as an excuse to steal it.

      Last edited 16/03/13 10:42 am

        1) Apple does not have to set up an office in Australia to enable Australians to download iTunes. They just have to unblock Australians from downloading from the US site.
        2) "MP slams 'invisible' Apple for avoiding Australian tax" www.zdnet.com/au/mp-slams-invisible-apple-for-avoiding-australian-tax-7000010889/

          Apple has had an office here in Sydney for years. They have two floors above the Hilton in Sydney.

      iTunes is not the only game in town and these days I don't think it is even the most comprehensive any more. Zune/X-Box Music has an incredibly comprehensive music selection and 7-Digital might be even better.

    Talking about piracy not paying...

    If my wife plays the Sims (on her legitimate DVD copy), it constantly hammers her DVD drive - putting wear and tear, not to mention, making annoying sounds that travel through the house. Her pirated copy - no such shakles. No DVD, no sounds. that's 1 to piracy.

    We bought the kids some DVDs. Not only do some of them require you to sit through 5 minutes of ads ("come on kids, just wait 5 minutes, it will start soon ... I promise"), but they have that damn annoying "you're a car thief if you copy DVDs" with the angry music that sets the kids right off. The pirated copy has no waiting and no frustration for young kids. That's 2 to piracy.

    Score? 2:0 in favour of piracy.

    On a side note: we have film and music industries suing 8 year old kids and lobbying US congress to take away people's freedoms. Why would I want to support such a cartel?

    I'm not against all industries. For example, cottage industries are a completely different thing. Also, companies that appear to be decent (eg. steam) I will also support. These days, I buy software, films and music based on the product AND my view of the player(s).

      Wow, whinging about the sound made by a spinning DVD and the (theoretical) wear and tear on a $20 component.

      Can you say spurious?

        It's a valid complaint.

        Some dvd drives are VERY loud, especially if you have a cheap PC case. There is a reason that the xbox's dvd drive is actually quite slow, it reduces the rotation speed and still provides a reasonable data speed for games without being too noisy in a room with a small tv.

      buy it, rip it to PC, play it through media player or one of those DVD players that have USB support, for your Sims issue, its not illegal to use a no cd patch or Game jackal, if that still exists

      Last edited 15/03/13 11:33 am

    As soon as iTunes made music readily available I stopped copying music from friends and downloading. Movies I pay-per-view on Foxtel. TV shows I download, simply because there is no other way to watch my favourite series in a timely fashion. I would happily pay to download them and support the networks that own the rights to them but at the moment there's no way for me to do this.

      iTunes do that too!

        Only for a few shows. Game of Thrones is has the fastest release that I'm aware of at 2 days (which is still slower than the pirates). Most shows I'm aware of take weeks, which is abysmal IMHO. Then there's shows like my personal favourite, Psych, which is 4 years behind on Itunes :'(

          Partly agree. Some shows are not there.

            Some? You actually think that of all the TV shows ever created around the world only some are missing? Most shows are not there.

              No I don't think that. Most shows are not in my DVD store wither. Most shows are not on as torrents. Actually most of the money in the world is not in my bank account; I better go and steal the rest of it.

              Yeesh.

          Apparently the new series of Game of Thrones on Foxtel will be airing 2 hours after the US gets it. Sadly I can still get it faster in HD and watch it before it airs here though.. But that's not much of an arguing point tbh.

    "Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem" - Gabe Newell

      It's sometimes a pricing issue. Legitimate availability is certainly better, I can stream a film through my smrt tv from Sony but on new release stuff they want to charge $5-$7 for a stream.

      I think $1 or $2 is more appropriate for something I'm only going to watch once and not get to keep. I'd rather pay a little bit more for the dvd/blu ray because I can rewatch it at any time (and maybe that is their plan all along)

        Shouldn't it be exactly the same as the price of a rental DVD (dunno what that is these days though)?

          Video stores are $2-3 for a week's rental for older movies, a bit more for new releases (differs by store).

          Hoyt's Kiosks are $3.50 for one day's rental for all releases, and they've got a great online search & reservation system.

          Online rentals are around $6 or $7 for new releases.

    Quickflix!? really

      i considered that, but the issue is the only stuff i wanted i had to wait to be sent to me and as i have found in past times of trying movie postal services, they send you the crap stuff first

    There's some large holes in the commentary on Music.
    1. Spotify and Rdio are OK if you have very mainstream tastes in very popular genres. Otherwise, not so good. Ditto for iTunes.
    2. Of all the vendors you mentioned, only Bandcamp supplies uncompressed music and the selection of music available while often excellent is minuscule.

      Really? I find loads of weird music on spotify. The range is quite decent really, anything super underground more often than not you need to order on vinyl from the band directly anyway.

        You can't get a lot (most) indie music on spotify because the catalogue is by label. I don't think that applies to iTunes.

          Anyone can get their stuff on Spotify, I have friends in local bands who have their stuff up there. It's really the responsibility of the label to submit their music.

            A lot of mid-level bands and Indie labels won't do it because the artists don't receive any (real) compensation. Hence the spotify catalogue is quite spotty if your into sub genres.

        Classical, jazz and a lot of indie music have very spotty coverage. Like iTunes, the coverage also varies enormously from country to country.

        Really? Spotify's EBM selection is incredibly comprehensive, better than iTunes, I'd reckon. I figured if they had that covered they'd have everything else, too, but maybe it's the difference between a European service and a US one?

          I've had the chance to compare the Spotify catalogues between France, UK and Sweden and they're quite different. Even with the common market, the music publishers still divide up Europe quite finely when it comes to media access.

          There are entire labels of music from UK and France that aren't available in other countries via Spotify or iTunes. Likewise most Australian releases aren't available in European online stores.

            It's the same with physical media. It is pretty much impossible to do a single deal with one distributor to get your CDs in stores all over Europe.

      They are also quite bad for electronic music.

      If only beatport provided a streaming service......

    VPN + Netflix + Spotify premium that allows you to locally store music you can listen to on the go.

    And ever since the ABC got with modern times and started streaming Dr Who on iView the day it comes out in the UK I no longer felt the need to pirate.

    My only beef is with TV. Netflix is not up to date enough to keep up with current tv and there is no easy and reasonably priced way to access shows like Game of Thrones. I don't want to wait MONTHS for the DVD release and I don't want to pay for foxtel either. TV is especially tempting to pirate because most of the time it is available to watch for FREE on TV, so why should I pay iTunes for it?

      OMG people! iTunes!!!! Its not something you have to sell your PC soul to use (I say this as a PC/Android fanboy who loves his AppleTV). Its so simple to use and you pay 2-3USD per ep (bit less for season pass that notifies you of each new ep available). You get 'em hours after they come out in the content zone e.g. Person of Interest is not uptodate in the US but you can get it after its shown on Aus TV... which is 3wk behind..groan...but other shows, like Blue Bloods, Touch, Clone Wars, TMNTs blahbalh are online in the US just after they show on free-to-art there.

    TL;DR.

    One word: Netflix.

    That's all it took for me. I've even stopped watching shows that aren't even available on Netflix... happy with what is on offer through Netflix.. if Quickflix got up to par with Netflix for content, I'd probably still not switch because it costs more but I could at least recommend it to others.

      How did you get Netflix to work in Australia though?

        Here you go - http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2013/01/hola-lets-you-watch-region-blocked-videos-from-any-country-for-free/

    Here are by media consuming habits:

    Movies: HD rentals on the PlayStation Store
    Music: Still listen to my CD rips with the odd Bigpond purchase
    TV Shows: Pirate (private tracker)
    PC games: Steam sales
    Console games: Ozgameshop when <$30.

    TV shows are overpriced when available. I don't want to buy DVD boxed sets as I only watch an ep once. It's an area that needs a lot of improvement if I'm to purchase legitimately.

      Yeah. Why pay TV content providers a couple of bucks for their efforts? We should be entitled to watch it free.

      Yeesh. This stuff costs money to make.

    Great article. I first noticed myself head towards the legit route when i'd be looking for the random song that you don't want the whole album of and not necessarily worried about audiophile quality. Back in the day this would be handled by a dodgy p2p solution but it became much easier to jump on itunes and grab it.

    Then netflix greatly reduced my movie pirating (except the odd new release I'm desperate for)

    The gap in the legit scene, as other have mentioned, is definitely TV. Let me download Breaking Bad as soon as it comes out in the states from the AMC website in sick quality for a couple of bucks and we're nearly sorted.

      Season 5 episode 8 (most recent epi according to Wikipedia which is on break since Sept so not the best example of my point) is online in Australia, in HD on iTunes for $3.49. ($2.99 SD). That's AUD (which are pretty similar to USD..little more in the AUD favour just now but you lose that in "handling fees" buying US iTunes cards). The US iTunes site charges $2.99/$1.99 in USD for HD/SD (what Australia tax????).

    I've got a pecking order for downloading music legally.

    If it's not on Bandcamp... 7 Digital.
    If it's not on 7 Digital... Bigpond.
    If it's not on Bigpond... iTunes.
    If it's not on iTunes... buy a CD on eBay.

    Why I pirate:

    I use Sickbeard (tv) and Couchpotato (movies) for my downloading, with the files coming from Usenet. I pay $90 a year for my Usenet access, and with a fairly decent 16-18mbps ADSL2 connection, I get things fast, generally an hour or two after it airs in the states (TV) or a week or two before the blu ray release (movies).
    By simply plugging in a show name into Sickbeard, I've also been able to find obscure, never rebroadcast or released on DVD in Aus tv shows from the 80s/90s (Tales of the Gold Monkey! The Adventures of Briscoe County Jnr!).
    I can stream the downloaded file to any TV, PC, tablet and phone in the house. On the road I can stream over 3G or wifi, if I haven't bothered to convert files and load onto my iOS devices. While I can stream to devices, I do not like streaming services - when I press play, I want to know that whatever I am watching will play at maximum quality, with no stutteringor interuptions for buffering, until I decide to pause or stop.

    The moment a legal service arrives that provides the same level of automation, simplicity, and depth of content, I will stop pirating, and will gladly hand over my money on a subscription basis.

    TVShows for mac automatically downloads the latest episodes of anything I like as they are released online. 100% automated. 100% free. 100% illegal. The only thing I worry about is being sued by the content creators, but that's a long shot anyway and I use a proxy. The proxy I use is free and the automation service was literally just "download and double click this thing, then select the tv shows you want". It took me, at most, five minutes. For free.

    For movies, I download them whenever there's one I want to see. I'm not fussy about quality, I usually get dvd quality or maybe 720p, but the point is that I can get them in adequate (and more than adequate) quality for free, without leaving my house. I have some free movie vouchers that I just haven't used because there are better options available.

    Don't even talk to me about games. Ubisoft and EA have stunted the games industry. I know people who bought a copy of Assassin's Creed and were forced to pirate it after they found out that Ubisoft has no customer support and the strictest DRMs on the planet.

    In terms of music, I do most of my listening on the train via my iPod classic. Buying things from iTunes is a pain because I don't trust them with my credit card information. I don't have an iTunes account. Spotify requires that I listen through my smartphone which has questionable battery life WITHOUT using it for an extra few hours a day AND pay a subscription fee AND I don't even get to actually own the music. Torrenting an album or a song, importing to iTunes, then syncing to my iPod is much easier, plus I can hold more songs than I would ever need on my Classic.

    In short, it's just easier and cheaper to pirate (almost all) media than it is to jump through the hoops in order to obtain them legally. And you could sometimes wait weeks, months, or in Avatar's case, years, to see content your friends saw in the theatre the day it was released.

      In terms of the music - I used to be the same, but Spotify does let you 'sync' songs to your iPhone so that you have playlists that actually sit on your device.

      There are pros and cons to it, like anything. For me I used to freelance a lot on site at various agencies and just couldn't be bothered lugging around 150gb of MP3's with me, it also meant I couldn't discover any new bands or albums without using the internet connection of the place I was at to download pirate albums.

      Spotify made it a lot easier as I could just stream what I needed to and most agencies weren't blocking it either.

      Anyway, that just my experience.

      To be honest, none of that sounds easier than non-pirated services available in Australia. But it all sounds much much cheaper...

      Setting up a proxy service isn't easier. Torrenting files then importing them into iTunes doesn't sound easier. And downloading games rather than buying them on Steam isn't easier.

      Don't get me wrong. I'm not on my moral high-horse. I don't care that you pirate and I don't believe it is the issue content creators/distributors claim.

      But, in this case, let's not dress it up as anything other than not willing to pay the bill.

    For me what started the legit trend were services like Spotify, Steam, and GOG. Basically services that make paying for media easy and enjoyable.

    As for software, now that I'm not in uni and actually a professional delivering a service I feel its more legit to purchase software that I make my living off (such as Adobe CS). Movies are a bit off in terms of usability for me, but I go regularly to cinemas with friends so pay for a lot of movies that way anyway. With some US sports, such as for instance NBA (which I love) it's just so much easier to go legit (Apple TV, NBA League Pass), as opposed to waiting for games to be ripped and uploaded.

    So in short, I agree with you, but I think it's not just that the services have become more user friendly and accessible, but that the target audiences have matured as well.

    I'd rather buy DVDs and CDs as it works out cheaper in the long run. Buying stuff from the Amazon marketplace or eBay is often cheaper than buying it digitally, I'm only paying for 10Gb of bandwidth a month and storing discs is easier/cheaper than buying lots of USB HDDS to store krap on because all that infrastructure has been in place for years at my joint.

    I also find digital music less satisfying. One of the pleasures of buying a new album is reading the sleeve cover to cover while you listen to it for the first time. Zune's ecosystem comes closest to replicating that on-line, with band bios and photos automagically downloaded for the artists in your collection, which you can watch in HD on your telly through the device, but it still lacks interesting details like who produced the album, where it was recorded and exactly who played on it. Sure, you can find most of that stuff out for yourself but it is easier and more immediate to have it to hand. But that is probably the difference between an actual music lover and someone who simply loves to have music playing all the time.

    Last edited 17/03/13 11:33 am

      Less & less bands are now putting no more than the credits of who produced the album etc in their liner notes. It sucks. Especially since having the lyrics in the book was always great, now they're being left out, or put on the bands website if you're lucky enough.

        Yeah, whereas we deliberately put as much of that stuff on our sleeve notes as we can fit, right down to which synth plays which part, to make the CD as attractive as possible. It just makes sense because we make 4 times more money off each CD we sell than we do per album download and at least 10 times more money overall from CD sales than digital (not counting direct CD sales at gigs, which nett us even more).

      I'd be spending more money on international postage than the DVDs and CDs themselves if I had to go back to that route. Plus so many of the hipsters are now doing digital or vinyl, but not CD.

        That is often the case for me, too, especially when I buy from Marketplace sellers. Album for $3 plus $6 postage.

    Just an observation, maybe relevant here, is that i have cable tv here, costs about $100 a month for a decent selection of movie channels and specialty channels.

    And it STILL HAS ADS.
    Anything that is not a movie is full of them...
    Anyone care to explain why they still show ads, some of which are for the channel i am watching or channels i have a subscription for already on a subscription based service?

      When you see how much cheaper Foxtel is now compared to a few years ago, it should be obvious why they do it. They show all those promos to make shows designed for ad breaks run teh full hour or half-hour. What I find worst about that is they show the same two or three promos every ad break until you just want to throw something at the telly.

        You're kidding me right? Foxtel have continually price gouged their customer base for years and it gets worse as time goes on. Just have a look at their IQ2 setup. You not only have to pay an extra $10-15 a month for the ability to watch HD content, you then have to pay an additional $10-15 a month for said content. It's double dipping if you ask me, and don't even get me started on what they have done with their movie channels.

          You do understand that they are not all "their" movie channels, don't you? They own Showtime but The Movie Network is a separate company that Foxtel pays for content. i.e. There are a lot of companies with their snouts in the trough, so it's not all about Foxtel's greed. That said, I reckon you'd have to have rocks in your head to pay for low quality content that you won't want to watch anyway, whilst still putting up with as many ads as free-to-air telly. I used to work for Optus TV when they had their own post production and it always seemed to me like another 65 channels of nothing to watch. But back then it was a helluva lot more expensive than it is now.

      Boy I'm glad I had a month to month.

      Month 1: "This is awesome, so much on"
      Month 2: "Still a fair bit to watch, but not a lot of new stuff"
      Month 3: "Barely anything new, everything is just on repeat? This is worse than free to air"
      Month 4: cancelled.

      And now some iTunes TV shows have ads too! I remember reading somewhere that content production is in no way cost-recovered by pay-per-view (at least then, maybe there are more buyers these days?)...advertising is the major funding sourec for making TV content. So they'll keep trying to put in in there..until advertisers realise its not being watched and that the viewer has been getting rid of ads since they could press fast-forward on a video player.

    I'll start buying TV shows and movies off iTunes and the like when they standardise subtitles across the board. I'm deaf, and these DRM laden services won't support adding an external subtitle file to the video.

    I would LIKE to buy TV shows/movies online (and this goes for a lot of DVDs too) but the hit and miss of subs/captioning makes it pointless. But, I can download a TV show off pirate bay hours after it airs in the US, and several subs sites will already have complete, accurate transcription that is perfectly syncronised. So I'm not a lot lost sale due to piracy, as without the subs I wouldn't buy it anyway.

    This is the one argument I don't get about anti pirating.

    "They don't buy it, so it hurts the industry".

    If they pirated and didn't buy it, do you really think 99% of those people would of bought it anyway? Meanwhile if those pirates didn't have access to it, they wouldn't tell their friends about your movie / TV show / song who might alternatively go and buy it?

    Not to mention the number of things that are pirated because access to your items legally in their country are impossible, because you can't be bothered allowing them to buy from you.

    Last edited 17/03/13 12:11 pm

    Great article. Its very true that the media companies are picking up their game and making it easier to buy instead of pirate.
    Behind the scenes, I wish that the recording companies would release ALL movies, tv episodes and music across the globe. So many times I have tried to get a piece of media, only to find that its not available in Australia. I want it, I want to PAY for it and I cant. So where does one get the media?..... Argh me hearty!

    I go through periods where I detest pirating and then I find myself drawn to it again, I guess the main reason being because it's easy and you have straight away. Movies I don't really buy as I've grown out of having an extensive dvd/blu-ray library, the thought doesn't appeal to me. I will hold onto a handful of favourites though. Games I don't pirate, I always buy those, it inevitably ends up being music.

    I guess the main reason being is that with my particular brand of music (K-Pop), it's hard to find them at good prices in Melbourne. There is a store in the city called Media Asia where I've purchased tons from but it does hurt the pocket. It's music, why's it so expensive? :(

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