A Pirate by Any Other Name Would Still Copy That Floppy


pirate flag 2

Back in the day, there was no word for Peer-to-Peer filesharing. Today, the phenomenon is widely termed ‘piracy’. Maybe that’s a little unfair, but then again, it’s not secret that the vast majority of torrent files criss-crossing the internet are games, unreleased albums, and films that are barely in theatres yet.

But now, it’s been posited that part of the problem may be the word ‘pirate’ itself.

I’ve secretly always liked the term. Okay, okay – I’ve always liked the term out loud. To an internet-savvy twentysomething, being a pirate is a totally badass prospect. But illegal downloading on the whole gets more rampant by the day, and could be economically disastrous in a very short period of time.

Recently, a consultancy in Paris published a study on Internet piracy and found that in 2008, 10 billion euros and 186,000 jobs were lost to piracy. If the scourge of illegal downloading continues, those numbers could increase to almost 300 billion euros, and over a million lost jobs.

It’s starting to be thought that the problem may lie in the word ‘piracy’ itself – it’s just too cool, some say.

“We should change the word piracy”, said Agnete Haaland, head of the International Actors’ Federation. “To me, piracy is something adventurous, it makes you think of Johnny Depp. But we’re talking about a criminal act. We’re talking about making it impossible to make a living from what you do.”

Well, she’s not wrong. Between the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy (which, let’s not forget, had not only pirates, but zombie-pirates, making it even cooler) and the antics of such outspoken, self-proclaimed pirates as the crew of The Pirate Bay, the last decade has glamorized the pirate, and made him a role model – even a hero. Most people enjoy being heroic. Hell, I love it. And Johnny Depp is a dream boat.

At the Abu Dhabi Media Summit last week, James Murdoch spoke out similarly, calling for harsher judgment of these would-be Jack Sparrows: “The idea that there’s a new consumer class and you have to be consumer-friendly when they’re stealing stuff. No. There should be the same level of sanctity as there is around property. Content is no different. They’re not crazy kids. No. Punish them.”

As much as I’m for the free sharing of information and content, maybe Haaland and Murdoch are right: if the situation is to be rectified – that is, if those million Europeans are to keep their jobs – the line of distinction should be changed, and a new term should be applied. ‘Pirate’ is simply too sexy.

Perhaps ‘unsavory charlatan’?

[Source: Ars Technica]

As reported by Reuters

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