When Do You Condone Piracy?

When Do You Condone Piracy?

We’ve asked before if you ever pirate media you already own, and many of you do, but are there other circumstances in which you’d condone piracy?

Photo by Daniel Lobo

I like to pay for my media and I don’t like to pirate, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel piracy is always wrong. For example, one situation that that’s fine with me is if someone is paying for cable television but chooses not to watch it and, instead, downloads the shows they like from the web. This is generally a more efficient system, but there’s no way to pay for it. I don’t believe in stealing content that would otherwise cost money, but I do believe in building a system that does what the existing system refuses to offer.

This is one reason I would condone piracy. What about you? Share your thoughts in the comments.


  • sometimes game piracy, if the game is a great game you should support the dev.
    i pirate my games to see if they are worth my 100 dollars (if i want the CD)

  • When something is prohibitively expensive. Like $1,000 for a box set of a much loved show. Or $2,000 for some software I use once or twice a year.

    Oh and retro games I can’t buy anywhere

  • As above. I am happy to pirate games so I can try them out. Given the crazy prices of games and lack of demos these days I often find it’s the only option. If I like what I play then I pick it up on Steam etc.

    As far as music and movies etc, I will admit that I’ve dabbled. Only on things I never plan to buy anyway, or things I can’t get in Aus, so that’s my justification (which I admit is still wrong).

  • Whenever something isn’t actually available for sale due to region or censorship restrictions. Also when they make it impossible (or amazingly difficult) to put media you already own onto other devices.

  • I agree with Adam, for TV shows, I have no issue. Mostly because they screen at a time that isn’t convenient to watch, but also because in Australia they have a habit of cutting a series off before it finishes.

    Software, Games, anything installable and purchasable, I will never agree with piracy. If you want it, buy it.

    Movies, this is my grey area. I have a very real issue with a movie cinema charging $20 per adult to see a movie, but I also always go with my wife, and we like popcorn and a drink. Before you know it, there goes $55. For a movie.

    It seems the issue is that as movies get more expensive, less people go, therefore the ticket price goes up, therefore less people go…..and around and round we go. Why don’t they go back to $10 tickets and watch the crowds roll in.

    Having said that, I dont agree with piracy of movies. But the issue is, there isn’t any great service for rentals (online or off) for Australia. So, when I want to watch ‘Team America’ or any other b grade movie from 5 or 10 years ago, I can’t do it legally. (Since brick and mortar stores only stock what is popular and will sell).

    What is the solution? bring Netflix to Australia.

    • totally agree. My local cinema is $7.50 a ticket for all sessions and is quite often sold it – and it’s not a fleapit cinema, it’s actually quite nice.

      I feel no guilt about downloading movies, if it’s good I’ll go see it on the big screen – I’m so fed up with ‘the best movie of the summer’ and ‘a classic that can’t be missed’ turning out to be a steaming pile. If they offered satisfaction back garuntees on tickets then I might start feeling guilty.

  • my rule goes along the lines of, if i am able to buy it (ie, its available in my country, either on or offline) then i will. but if its literally impossible to purchase, then pirating will commence.

    solution? get rid of region specific releases!

    whats the point of a online (ie, WORLD wide web) itunes store, if you can only buy whats been released in your country.

  • I would never steal any digital content – the key point here being ‘steal’ i.e. “To take (the property of another) without right or permission.” When digital media is downloaded, the original copy is not taken from the owner, and the owner is not deprived the use of the original, nor is the copy presented as a work of one’s self – i.e. It is not possible to pass off Avatar (The Movie by James Cameron) as your creation, or the creation of any other person except the person or persons specified and credited in the titles and credits of the movie (origin source kept with the producing studio for reference if needed).
    Going by the statement above, when a copy is made of digital content, no effort is needed, action taken, nor services rendered where any 1st or 3rd party would require payment, thus you are not stealing by the definition above.
    In fact, obtaining a copy of digital content free of charge allows a broader audience to be engaged then if the content was only accessible via a monetary transaction, and in the long run can drastically increase the number of sold copies, due to those who enjoy the content purchasing a legal copy.
    I know that I will obtain free copies of digital content and if I like them, purchase the originals (originals in this case can refer to a legal copy of the original) as I feel that the work in question deserves payment. If I do not like the content that I will not purchase the originals. The bottom line being that there is no chance of my buying the content without seeing it first – the same principal applies to a car – I’m not going to simply buy a car without properly testing it first.
    So by allowing free content to be viewed, the content creators can increase their markets, and revenue.

  • Agree with wsDK_II above. If I can’t afford to buy something, I download it. I’m not denying someone else the copy, and I would never have purchased the item anyway, so no-one is losing out. It’s a victimless crime. In fact, the maker of the item stands to gain, for example if I recommend the item to others, or decide to eventually purchase it myself.

    If games and music were reasonably priced, I would buy more rather than downloading.

  • So people who have cable can download shows (because they pay for it), but people with Free To Air can’t?

    I’d say “If you can get it for free in other ways, you can download it” Eg catch up tv. But that saying doesn’t apply to other things like apples. You can get them for free from your own tree, but you can take them from the shops shelf and walk out.

  • Add me to the list of people who “pirate” because the of idiotic region restrictions.

    I have a Hulu account. I just can’t watch anything because of geo-blocking.

    And I’m now living in New Zealand, as an Australian taxpayer I find it highly insulting that I can’t watch ABC iView and ABC posted clips to YouTube outside of Australia.

    I paid for that content to be created and aired. So I feel completely justified in downloading Gruen Transfer and so on from torrent sites, and I suggest every other ex-pat does the same.

    Also, if I’ve already paid for it, why should I pay for it again? I have an extensive collection of CDs and vinyl, and a less extensive Video and DVD library, which I’ve paid for. Now I don’t have the time to digitise these myself, nor the money to get another to, so if someone else has and puts them online, then I don’t see it as piracy to obtain it in this way.

  • My wife bought me the long awaited Blu-Ray of The Thin Red Line. It arrived, shipped from America to Australia – and of course would not play on my PS3. It was the first Blu-Ray I’ve come across that was region coded to play in the US only. I’ve legitimately paid for the thing and I’m being punished. So I very happily and guilt free downloaded a 14 gig 1080p version on line – and also don’t have to put up with the interminable loading times of a blu-ray.

      • @Den I disagree. Maybe you know about region coding but they certainly don’t advertise it very well do they for the average punter? Teeny tiny litte numbers on the back of the box? Region coding is misleading manipulation to charge more because they can. Expecting customers to research that suggests they care more about fixing the price. Which of course they do. Additionally in many cases the only places some films are released IS overseas.

  • One thing I’ll point out, is that there is often a BIG difference between what someone condones, and the actions exhibited.

    I’m sure very few people “condone” the theft and unauthorised re-distribution of other peoples interlectual work, but in the case for many people, that still doesn’t stop them from partaking in the activity.

    If you asked the population of those involved in receiving pirated materials what they’re main influencing factor is, I’m sure the main response would be to the tune of “I can’t afford to pay for it.”.

    Obviously everyone perception of wealth and what they can or can’t afford is unique, but regardless of this, few people would be involved in piracy because they think its morally okay and they have a right to free access of copywrited material.

    The main point is peoples actions often contradict their own morals.

  • Draconian DRM and corporate douchebaggery. The single biggest reasons by far that I openly pirate.

    I purchased a lot of software for my older Windows Mobile <=6.5 phones. Windows Mobile used to be great. If you didn't like something you could change it. I now own both an iPhone and HTC Trophy. I will NEVER pay for a single thing off either MS or Apple's appstore/marketplace. I download elsewhere and, if I like what I've installed, I'll contact the developer and offer to pay them direct. Some devs get weird about it (I offered the Trainyard developer $10 over PayPal and he blatantly rejected it saying he'd rather just spread the word... if he doesn't want money and just wants recognition, why charge for it on the app store? And when I obviously have a problem with funding Apple, why would I recommend it to anyone without also recommending how to jailbreak and install for free?) but most developers are genuinely appreciative (and make more than they would from the app store sale anyway). As for general doucebaggery, the way Sony is handling the whole PS3 jailbreak thing has guaranteed I will never pay for anything Sony related again. I have a modded Wii and still buy accessories and games for it, I mostly just like the fun of home brew development. Nintendo try to lock out modders (and piraters) with firmware updaters. Fair enough. Sony on the other hand... I hope geohot countersues for a sizable chunk of green and wins. What a pack of a$$holes.

    • Talking about Sony – ever since they loaded a CD of mine with some Tracking software (you all remember the whole issue with Sony installing root-kits on your computer to see if you had pirated software) i have stayed away from their products – i will never get any sony products again. I have Samsung TV, Microsoft XBOX, and HTC Phone

  • Two times.
    Periodically from adobe because I’ve paid massive ammounts for their software enough times not to want to cough up extortionate dollars again every single year.
    Secondly live streaming of pay tv events – especially soccer – that were originally part of the government’s anti siphoning legislation but which fell victim to big wallets.

    • Cannot condone the pirating of soccer games. I’m assuming you mean the English Premier League. Before I had Foxtel I viewed it online, simply because I didn’t have the means (was underage and parents wouldn’t let me get it).

      Now, for $60 a month you can watch virtually ANY and all games live (and switch between with the red button) without having to search for a stream and hope it holds out. Best coverage in the world, aside from maybe Kenya or Dubai.

      The anti-siphoning list is another issue. Free-to-air networks abused the power they were given, and the events were rightly taken off (Socceroos matches) the priority list.

  • Not burying the lead, putting it out on front street.

    I pirate TVs & movies because it is currently the cheapest and the most convenient form of entertainment for me and my family – Why should we pay for them and spend all of the hassle of going to the cinemas (Have to take into factor of petrol or public transportation fares that are not getting any cheaper) where you can just download them with few mouse clicks? Money spent could be allocated to everything else like mortgage, food & clothing.

    Will probably stop doing it if people start getting fines left and right, like speeding or not paying your bills.

  • Laziness and tight arsedness are the two key factors. End of story.
    For all those people who say they can’t find a movie in a brick and mortar store they’ll pirate – buy it online. If it’s region locked then break that on your PC and reburn a copy you can play.
    To those that say they pirate games to “test” them, I would bet my left nut that only a single digit percentage actually do that. I really can’t see people uninstalling the pirate copy and crack, dicking around trying to salvage save games, then going and buying a legit copy and getting the saves back. Or starting the game again from scratch.
    DRM, corporate behaviour, availability are legitimate gripes but the correction of those wouldn’t make a big dent in piracy numbers.

  • Everyone mentions software/music/movies, but what about other content that has been digitized such as books?

    I recently purchased a book from the Book Depository UK – it’s been 3 weeks, and it still hasn’t arrived. So, I downloaded a PDF version (of the book I’ve already paid for) and have been happily reading it on my iPhone since.

    Morally questionable? I don’t think so – it’s simply another version of the same item I already own.
    Illegal? Who knows – anyone got court proceedings to show a precedent for rulings on this kind of action?

  • It’s very interesting how different people rationalise piracy.

    For me, the example I always throw out is Doctor Who.

    In this age of global social networking, it is damn near impossible not to stumble across spoilers. Some people feed off spoilers, for me it ruins the surprise when I watch the episodes. So I download them, meaning I only have to be careful for a few hours, rather than months.

    Doctor Who is also an interesting case because it airs on ABC, which doesn’t run ads. So as far as I’m aware (someone correct me if I’m wrong), I’m actually not doing any harm. I also buy the boxsets, as I’m a sucker for special features.

    For other TV shows it comes down to a) convenience of being able to watch stuff when I want/avoiding spoilers and b) being able to see shows that are off the air (which often leads me to buy the DVDs, which I otherwise wouldn’t have done).

    With movies….movies I have less of a defense. It’s mostly me being cheap, but I do have a handful of DVDs that I bought after downloading a copy. I guess it’s also the fact that I don’t want to shell out $30 for a movie that could be completely shit.

    • Obtaining copyrighted material that is free (ad-supported or otherwise) is a bit grey as to whether its immoral or not.

      On your Dr Who/ABC point, it could be argued that ABC have paid BBC for local rights to the show, and therefore own sole rights to transmit the show. By not watching it on ABC, you’re not contributing towards viewer figures which would justify ABC’s decision to continue to purchase broadcasting rights.

      Jumping to the other extreme, it could also be argued that unless you’re someone with a FreeTV Aus ratings-box, your viewing habits aren’t captured and reported on anyway, so ANY copyright breach relating to TV programming (commercial or otherwise) you commit has no influence to the outcome for TV broadcasters anyway.

      Legality tends to be mostly black and white. Morality seldom is.

  • I’ve “pirated” (i.e. broken DRM restrictions) on ebooks available from our public library, because they won’t run on my ebook reader otherwise. (They require installation of a reader software that I can’t run on my linux-based SmartQR7. Also I think it’s dumb that the library can only loan an ebook to one customer at a time, so you have to wait for someone else to “return” it before you can borrow it. So I totally condone the breaking of DRM in this case anyhow, but I probably wouldn’t bother myself if it weren’t for the fact the damn thing isn’t even readable without it.

  • TV shows, if i could pay for them over the web i would.

    Most of my shows that i watch do not air in Australia and if they do they are months behind and seem to disappear.

  • I have pirated for years. I currently have around 1TB of music alone, and a similiar amount of movies / TV episodes (which tend to get deleted fairly once theyve been watched, otherwise storing it all would be space prohibitive).

    The main reason for piracy is convenience – there is literally no paid method that is as convenient as piracy.

    A little while ago I got a Bigpond Music voucher for $15.00 so I thought I’d give this ‘legal music’ thing a whirl. I decided to buy Powderfinger’s album “Fingerprints”… which $15.00 which just cover (the first ‘wtf?’ of legal music acquisition – why the high cost?)

    First, Bigpond wanted me to download a program suited for downloading music from their store. I’m pretty sure you dont need a ~50MB Windows application to download a bit of music, but what would I know. Following a very small bit of fine print down the bottom, I was able to choose to download the mp3 instead – and it was even 192k!

    Arrive at the mp3 download page and find individual links for each song instead of a single download link. Fine. Alt-click on each link to start downloading, and found only 1 song would download at a time. Every other connection would time out. And if you started another download too quickly after the last one finished, it would time out then too. So you basically had to download each song in its entirety, wait 30 seconds, then begin the next download.

    For that one album, including signing in, finding the mp3 version, downloading each track seperately with waits between each download, and then having to find my own cover art it took probably 30 minutes of my time to get one album worth of legal mp3s, and cost $15.00

    With torrents, I can download entire discographies with a single click, and its free.

    Wheres the incentive to do things ‘properly’ when its so damn convoluted and inefficient?

  • A reason I pirate is because it takes so damn long to get to Australia. DVDs take months to hit the selves, Tv shows sometimes take years to hit Tv.

    Also some people want to go home and rewatch a movie they saw at the cinema, cause they shouldn’t have to wait months for the DVDs to hit the selves. They should sell you the DVD at the cinema at a discount if you saw the movie there.

  • I only justify certain piracy.

    Video editing software that I use a few times a year to make an end of season video for my soccer club would normally cost $700. It’s something I voluntarily use, but I have recommended people to use it (Sony Vegas) and if I’m in a position in the future that requires heavy video editing, then it will be purchased.

    No way I can justify my own movie/music/gaming piracy. I don’t see any benefit (to myself, being selfish) purchasing something I get for free. I have some friends that love buying music for the “physical feel” of it, but that has no value to me. I would rather have the cash myself to spend on tangible goods such as clothes, alcohol and food (Things which can’t be pirated, unless you are willing to run the risk of criminal charges for shoplifting, a threat that just isn’t there for piracy.)

    But, I started watching 24 Season 7 on W Channel on Foxtel. I got hooked and downloaded it so I could watch it. As I have the subscription for the channel, does that make it wrong that I only watched a few episodes on Foxtel? (Think I still have it series linked to record, but delete it)

    So long as the means of piracy are out there, so readily available, people will pirate.

  • I love the Cinema experience, but can’t afford to set a similar system up at home and purchase the media. So I pay the price of which ever cinema has the rights to show the movie to me. I used to rent DVD’s but now they have the annoying Pirating statement that you can’t skip. I paid to rent/view the movie, and if I add up the time wasted watching that stoopid infomercial, and got paid for it, i’d be able to afford the media. I used to purchase media, records, tapes, VHS, CD, DVD, but due to a house disaster, I lost it all, and I was insured, however you try replacing everything! You can’t get the original INXS on CD, or Ted Mulry Gang (TMG) on media, you can’t because someone is not releasing the content on any media. I somehow feel the right to the music/movie that I once owned, but don’t can’t get the media with the content. I can see why it’s easier to aquire through other means, the Internet just makes it easy. Also learnt from the loss of everything possessions aren’t everything and so I don’t feel the urge to “own” the media to store/insure into the future. The publishing companies need to get with the program, even the Govt with the NBN knows that content will/should be delivered by the “Internet”. Look at some online book distributors have it right, you get an account, purchase a book, and you can download it in any format you like, change devices & you can download the version for the new device with no extra charge. MAKE IT EASY AND YOU WILL RECEIVE THE CUSTOMERS!. I like the idea of these new “pay” to view Internet media devices that fetch tv/movies you can watch at home, however if distributors feel the need to ruin the experience with their anti-Pirating ads for those that don’t pirate, then they are anti-Customer too.

  • I think pir8ting is a fairly crappy practice on apps and games that are only asking a fair price.

    For example Minecraft is only about $20 AUD – its still readily available on torrent sites, and I think that really sucks because they’re not asking much for it in the first place.

    When software is a ‘must have’ for many people and is ridiculously expensive I have no sympathy with people pir8ting it. Adobe Photoshop and other CS5 products are a good example of this. They are waaaay over the top in cost.

    I think it also depends on the individual. I can understand single parents, students, people who are on disability or unemployed not having the money, and I think that goes some way towards justification.

    On the flip side of that when I walk into a business to do IT support, and all their software is ripped-off, I think thats just plain wrong. When the income’s there and its all a tax write-off anyway there’s no excuses for it.

    Thats my 5c worth anyway 🙂

  • oops… what I meant to say above (para 3) is when the software is overpriced, I have no sympathy with the developers and can see why people pir8 it. Cant see an edit button. DOH!

  • I condone piracy due to the time it takes tv shows to hit Australia. For example we are waiting on American restoration to commence 2013
    When this show is well over 4 years old. We have no other choice sometimes.

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