Confessions of an Internet Pirate

Ok I’ll admit it. There’s times I’ve illegally shared (who doesn’t love CD burning parties) other people’s work for various reasons (like it’s really REALLY hard to find a copy KISS meets the Phantom of the Park)kiss party!. Oh I knew it was wrong, but its just so easy to justify. (Hey I spend 100 on concert tickets, I can burn my friends cd right…..) Of course like all good pirates, I had boundaries. No stealing from indy or upcoming artists………

I say all of this to admit that on this topic I am a sinner.
Still, after a few conversations I’ve had with a few of the 101 Composition classes I’ve visited over the past semester, I’m shocked at the over all consensus on copyright law: copy right laws should not exist. If someone can steal work and make money off of them, the better for it….and well, hey you should just make more work to sell.

I was honest with the class. Telling them about my past, why I did what I did, why it was wrong but why I did it, etc….

No response.

I tried having them imagine that they were inventors and artist who had their work stolen….

No response.

What about indy artist…….

No response.

After hours of discussion, the consensus remained the same.

I’m not naive. I know (as Rand Paul) illustrates that there are certain people that don’t respect the idea of copyright laws, but I was still surprised to find so many people feel that the American way is stealing and that artist who have things stolen are just out of luck, should just stop whining and go out and make new work.


Any ideas how to impart the grain of discourse?


15 comments on “Confessions of an Internet Pirate

  1. I believe the problem with intellectual and artistic property is the vast majority of people are neither intellectual nor artistic. Because they can’t create such things what option do they have but to suggest it’s okay to steal them? They never do the work so they don’t understand the effort. Ask those same people if it is okay for their friend to sleep with their girlfriend/boyfriend and suddenly you get all the moral arguments on “right and wrong.”

  2. I think part of the problem is that we are trying to force art into a model that evolved for things like land and houses. It’s not so much, I would say, that copyright laws should be thrown out, but it seems that there are people who are growing up seeing that these laws are impossible to enforce and so it begins to lose meaning for them.

    Artists and writers need a way to make money. That’s for sure. But perhaps their model shouldn’t be the same as a real estate developer. And maybe the laws need to reflect that.

    Don’t hold me to this. I’ve changed my mind about this over a million times, I think. In fact, I suspect I might have changed my mind three times since I started writing this comment. (Which probably explains why it’s so badly written!)

    Anyway, I’m not sure if that answers your question.

  3. Copyright isn’t about sharing an ebook or ripping a cd. It’s about ownership. As a novelist and poet, I don’t want someone else getting rich off of my work. I want to get rich off of it.

    I think copyright laws are needed for the reason of protecting intellectual property. You can share your copy of my book 1000 times but if you write something that is almost just like it or try to pass off my book as your own, I’m coming for you.

    Companies can file patents on intellectual property (which in most cases is ludicrous – there is a patent on having a shopping cart icon on your website!) so why can’t I protect my ideas through copyright? If I steal someone’s car and try to resell it as my own, I can get fined or prison time. All the previous person did was pay money for the stupid car. My novel took me 4 years to write. That is where copyright protects me just like other laws protect you and your car, or bike, or house.


  4. People who steal anything …. artwork, intellectual property,cows are lazy and have no talent. They know this. It’s why they steal. You can’t change people. That’s why laws are passed with appropriate penalties and why they have to be enforced. Disney found this out long ago.

  5. Stealing from an artist is stealing from a person trying to make a living. Is it right to steal from a mechanic? A grocery store worker? From anyone trying to make a living? Most artists don’t make as much money as a McDonalds worker. That is the truth of the matter. Everyone is entitled to make money off their work. I wonder if those who think it is okay would like things stolen from them. If anyone doesn’t mind then give me your bank account number so I can steal your money.

  6. I think the internet is to blame. Ever since it became a snap to click and pop some “tasty” tidbits out of their locked boxes (the creators’ heads), piracy no longer required a ship with cannons and a crew on the high seas. Just imagine Captain Hook being able to catch Peter Pan with a computer prompt/command or Google him…follow his “tweets”, etc.

    Personally, we should all, close Pandora’s box now and remember what it was like–if we were born before 1994–what it was like to not have so many modern conveniences (to crime). That goes for business owners, corporate/domestic pirates and all who may be tempted.

    The person/s who say/s the creator should just go make more is simply the thief sleeping under the lemon tree. Perhaps, we all are thieves from different perspectives. But, our consciences don’t like it.

  7. Here’s a question for the lot of you who stop here: If Katy P. and Sara B. really DID both use the same beat for “Roar” and “(I Want to See You Be) Brave”, who was the original artist/creator of the beat? And, did/does the “thief” pay any “dues” for taking?

  8. Who remembers taping songs off of the radio? With cassette tapes? Or making the ‘perfect’ mix tape, putting different songs from albums on cassettes, then CDs? That was piracy. Everyone did it. I’m not justifying it; it just comes with the territory. Like you, Rachael, I can justify my piracy. I’m a BIG music buyer – albums, imports, concert tickets, t-shirts, etc. So if I download rare tracks or live songs or albums I’ve lost, I think it’s quite alright. And I don’t feel guilty either.

    It seems to be a millenials thing.. though intellectually, and the way I present myself, is very similar to the millenials, the fact is I am a gen-xer. I am a firm believer in the indie artist getting paid and in them having ownership, and rights to collect on flagrant misuses of their works. But like all good gen-xers, I’ve also illegally downloaded indie stuff. There’s the conundrum. There’s no right or wrong answer here… just support the artists. Download and share, but make sure you spread the word, buy something from them when you can, and just enjoy the tunes.


  9. I think that people are growing up now, knowing that they don’t have control over the way their words, images, personal lives, are broadcast, distributed, etc. There is no expectation that things they put in the world won’t get used by someone else. They’re not bothered by the idea of losing something (their rights to the things they’ve made) because they never expected to have it in the first place.

  10. As a fellow pirate, I have to confess myself that I’ve illegally downloaded even from indie artists, but mostly because I grew up in a place where good music was either tough to come by or too expensive. Now that I moved back to the States, that’s looking to change.

    For the “moral” side of this argument, I’ll parrot what I’ve been reading over the years: buy the band’s merch and catch their shows when you can. Otherwise, spread the word and spread it far and wide; there’s nothing better than at least being recognized for an amazing composition or album

  11. Pingback: I think, perhaps, links tonight | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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