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The Pirates (Bay) Have Sold Out

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Ages ago, unsavory characters would roam the Caribbean and other warm-water seas, plundering gold from unsuspecting vessels. These men would pillage, rape, and destroy anything in their paths. They were vicious, played by no rules, and were general a-holes to everybody else. They are nothing like what Hollywood, and the internet, display them as.

Over time, the pirates lost their free reign, and their ability to plunder the free world disappeared. The Spanish Armada took control of the Spanish Main and stopped the ragtag sailors. There were no safe ports, no hidden islands, and nowhere to run. The era of piracy was over, and ships filled with gold could sail the seas again.

But it was not over, only hidden, only delayed. With the birth of the internet, a new era in piracy began. Though these heathens considered themselves to be pure, unadulterated, and perfect, they were not. They thought that they were just sharing and opening the world, but they were stealing. The internet allowed these new pirates to share wares, songs, and files across continents. It was the golden era of piracy all over again, but much larger, and much more dangerous.

Out of this ware swapping, a site emerged, The Pirate Bay. The Pirate Bay promised to allow users to find rare games, share movies, and read e-books all over the place. It was to be a giant community of thieves, each one helping the next, and each one sticking it to The Man. Nobody would be harmed, they said, as only the big companies lost sales, and physical products were not being stolen. The Pirate Bay, along with similar file sharing companies, quickly became the standard form of piracy.

But people were harmed. Software piracy alone costs the industry more than $50 billion. It is estimated that Fox lost over $7 million when X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released on file-sharing networks. No matter how much anybody wants to argue, it is clear that piracy is not only harmful, it is dangerous. Just think of the tax money that governments lose through these millions of instances of illegal file sharing.

Just as in the golden days, modern-day piracy is highly illegal. Copying anybody's work, be it intellectual property or not, without permission or specific exemptions (fair use, most notably) is illegal – period. Various laws, both nationally and internationally, protect copyrighted and patented items. This is essential for both capitalism and progress. If there is no protection over what you invested time and money into, then why should you have invested it in the first place? Clearly, development relies on the protection of the developers' rights, and so the laws are crafted accordingly.

With the law behind them, the RIAA and other major property holders decided that it was time to launch a new Spanish Armada. Instead of ridding the world of drunken, syphilis-filled men, they were going to rid it of everybody who even touched a copyrighted work without permission. They started small, suing college kids and housewives. The new armada won battle after battle, and finally they were ready for the big dogs.

After sinking many legal defenses, the holders perused the larger ships. They went after big companies, like Napster, Pirate Bay, and Kazaa. One by one, the courts found that the sites were indeed liable for the content they provided, and that they needed to close down. Not a single court found that stealing was legal, and so the era of the pirates quickly faded.

After sinking the other big fleets of the era, there remained only one for the armada to go after – The Pirate Bay. Early in 2008, The Pirate Bay was sued. This was a huge deal, and many people were upset by it. Pirate Bay argued that they merely provided links between people, and therefore were not liable. The plaintiffs argued otherwise, stating that the primary purpose of Pirate Bay was to infringe copyright and therefore it was not exempted. The courts agreed and ordered the four founders to pay lots and lots of money.

Just as with Kazaa and Napster, the owners of Pirate Bay were unable to pay the fee. Thus, they decided (today, June 30th) to sell the site and make it 100% legitimate. For the selling price of a mere $7.8 million, a private company now has access to over 20 million users and is able to sell stuff to them – or, as I would do, sue them for breaking copyright.

With the Silicon Age of Piracy dying, college kids everywhere are crying. This is a big deal to them, and it forced them to – gasp – actually pay for their music. This attitude is something that I do not understand. I am happy that Pirate Bay was shut down. I am sick and tired of people just frolicking around, happily breaking thelaw. Seriously, for the most part, it is illegal to download copyrighted materials (in America) without permission, so why should we go and do it? Also, it is clearly bad for the economy and for progress.  People need to wake up and smell the roses – stealing an idea is still stealing.

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About Robert M. Barga

  • http://jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    Points well taken. My quibble: I hardly think stealing songs and movies is more dangerous than attacking ships and killing people.

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    well played sir, well played

  • Bliffle

    …and then there are some movies that no one would have watched except that they were pirate copies that excited a sense of deviltry. For example, I give you “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (if only I could) of which an unmarked pirate copy was slipped to me by an Unknown Stranger.

    Lacking the pirate audience I suspect that not a soul would have watched it.

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    That is why it is hard to calculate the amount lost or the like due to piracy

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Sadly enough, Blogcritics is always fairly inaccurate.

    Just one question… Do you think it is the people sharing copyrighted material that’s making these industries suffer or is it the quality of material being produced for the price you have to pay?

  • An User

    Since the Pirate Bay was not keeping these files themselves and not promoting them in any was special, why should they take the blame ?

    If you took a pirated movie aided by this tracker, would ou take it from the owner of the tracker or another user just like you ?

    Try to see the difference ?

    Not to mention the way the trial took place, with the judge and the attorneys . . .

    But people fail to see that . . . Just one simple parralel:

    Imagine someone coming to you and asking you about your neighbor, Mr. Ben . . . You tell him yes, he lives down the street, then the guy goes and kills Mr. Ben . . . Should he be charged with the murder or you because you told him where to find Mr. Ben ??

  • An User

    I’m not trying to disclaim anyone, just sharing another point of view . . .

    Sry, no edit post available :P

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    @5 how is it inaccurate?
    I believe that it is a combo

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    @6 and @7

    dont worry about the point of view or editing, no need

    The intent of a site is what matters when you assist in copyright violation. That is why google is okay but TPB is not.

    The judge was unbiased, sure, he is a member of a group, but that is like saying judges who are in the NRA can not decide gun issues

    If he had a gun and I KNEW he was going to kill ben then i shoukld be tried as an acomplis

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    @8

    The Pirate Bay didn’t “provide” any content. They listed links that were available on the internet. You could find those same links via Google. So, why hasn’t Google been tried for copyright infringment.

    Bittorrent provides the software to engage in P2P & they’ve been around a hell of a lot longer than TPB, yet, they haven’t been shutdown.

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    @10

    1) As i said, it is intent. If a site exists with the priary intent of illegal things then it is illegal (betamax argument)

    2) Bittorent as a protocall is primarily geared for legal sharing

  • An User

    did you think that TPB had any intent on promoting illegal content ?

    I think they are more “we provide the service, you can do whatever u can with it”

    It shouldn’t be their business what is uploaded and downloaded . . .

    You can find illegal content anywhere if you try, and let’s not forget they did not break any laws . . .

    The things they were accused of only apply in the USA, and should they reside there i would have understood . . .

    And about the judge, i am not saying he was or he wasn’t biased, but with a trial with such a huge impact you must take all the necessary precautions . . . I am sure there are hundreds of experienced judges with no connections to any lobby groups who could have taken part in this . . .

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    @11

    The Betamax argument is a US decision not an international decision[as An User stated]. Plus, the Betamax argument refers to the creation of a technology NOT the use of said technology. Running a website is not the same as inventing the internet or Bittorrent,so, I don’t see how this argument could have been used successfully. Secondly, TPB is not a file sharing company because they don’t store any of that content on their hard drives.

    Granted, I don’t care for how blatant they were with their intentions BUT an intent to provide illegal information isn’t a justification for punishment. Right now, you could go on Google and find a recipe for a pipe bomb. Should those people be found guilty for what an anonymous user does with the information??

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    I can not legally make a pipe bomb, but i can check out a book about it at the library. The transfer of that information is not illegal, the transfer of copywritten materials is. See the difference?

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Yea, the difference is that the inventor of the pipe bomb doesn’t have a copyright on the recipe. I betcha if you could make money selling pipe bombs then that information wouldn’t be so readily available. But,wait a minute isn’t it funny that you mention the Library. I can,also, go to the Library and check out DVDs & Audio CDs. Last time I checked, Libraries don’t pay royalty fees but they share the information & I don’t pay a dime to experience the artists work…hmmm.

    Anyways, back to your point, I really don’t see a difference. TPB was sharing information, what you do with it becomes your responsibility. I haven’t seen any Media organizations pressuring international relationships over the availability of copy written porn. Again, it’s got nothing to do with the Artists well being and everything to do with the justification of a middle man.

    I don’t want the internet monitored by money hungry whores who have done nothing to further its uses or didn’t even have the foresight to progress their livelihood…

  • Anon

    Your crazy. If the companies didnt charge $20 for a single CD or DVD maybe I would be more inclined to pay for it. Not to mention Microsoft, I am not paying over $100 for one single licensed software when a PC can easily die and then I need to re-buy, no deal. The companies losing money from torrents are all well-to-do companies who overprice inferior quality products and deserve what they get.

  • Cybercrawler

    HAHAHAHAHAAHAHAH – You all make me laugh. It is retarded to think this will change anything. As soon as TPB goes offline there will be another site like it in mere days *pop* and so it begins. Don’t think the trackers have not and will not be picked up by other sites in other countries, in fact a lot of them already have been moved. This problem is that the people running the site are smarter then the corps. There will soon be another way to get what we need.

  • Jack

    Arrg!, you scullywag, ther way of ther pirate will live on, long live piracy!!!

  • Okaw

    What a load. I am so sick of hearing these ridiculous statistics about how much damage piracy is doing to the entertainment industry. They’re all based on COMPLETELY faulty logic. The stats are generally calculated by looking at how many times something has been downloaded, and then saying “if the person had bought that instead of downloading it, we would have made $X, therefore, we lost $X on this download.” The problem is, this only works if the person who downloaded it WOULD have otherwise bought it. I live in a one bedroom apartment in a low-income housing complex. There are weeks when I can only afford to EAT twice a day. The only reason I even have an internet connection is because my job requires it. I do NOT have $10.00 to see a movie, $16.00 to buy a DVD or $13.00 to buy a CD. I CERTAINLY don’t have $50-$400 to buy computer software. When I pirate them, it’s because I don’t have the money to buy them. Period. Which means that at the end of the day, a production company does not end up with a single penny less than they had at the start of the day as a result of my download. And if I had been unable to download the software/movie/music? Guess what? They wouldn’t have ended up with a single penny more. And a SUBSTANTIAL amount of the pirate community is like this. We don’t pirate because we are unwilling to pay. We pirate because we are UNABLE to pay. You could shut down every single avenue we have for piracy, you could bring piracy to a total stop and you STILL would not gain any extra money from us because we. Don’t. Have. The. Money.

    And what’s more, there are a lot of things that get pirated that people technically COULD afford, but still would not buy at current prices. Take Microsoft Office Pro. That is a $400.00 software suite. Even if I HAD $400.000 for it? I wouldn’t pay that much. I’d just learn to make better use of open office, which is free.

    And stop comparing piracy to shoplifting or stealing a car. That’s bull and you know it. Because if I steal a CD from the store, that store has one less of something that they previously had. If I download that CD, who ends up with less than they started? NO ONE.

    Oh, and the “piracy takes money from the set designers and other hard-working people who work on a movie”? Again, a steaming load. Those people are paid a set amount for each film. If that film then makes ten dollars or ten million dollars does not effect their paycheck.

    Stop. The. Lies.

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    Stealing=good is your basic argument, right?

  • zingzing

    i don’t think that’s quite what he is saying there, robert. it’s a flimsy argument he makes, but you haven’t characterized it well.

  • Ruvy

    Robert,

    Okaw’s basic argument is very simple. It’s less of a theft if the goods “stolen” are overpriced to begin with (a cogent point with a lot of “software” that is hard on the wallet, as welll as products that screw over the creative artist, mainly benefitting the middleman), and if the inventoried stock after the pirating is no less than what it was in the morning.

    In this world, a computer is nearly a necessity. It is not a luxury. Computers put thousands of people out of work (by “advancing” technology), and provide work for those with computers. But the wages are not necessairly high, and this is one of the basic reasons that people pirate software.

    Let’s look at further issues. Legitimate DVD’s of the six Harry Potter movies retail at about NIS 90 in Israel. In a country where the general wage is around NIS 30/hr, that means 3 hours of labor to acquire a single DVD, or 18 hours of labor for all six. Considering that I happen to know that of the six, four are trash, why should I waste all that money? How do I know that four of the six are trash? We pirated them in one fashion or another. Given that the first two movies are actually good, I might be willing to buy them, and spend the 180 shekels. So “giving the product away” can stimlate sales.

    “Thou shalt not steal” is complemented by another commandment in the Torah, Robert; “thou shalt not cheat your brother”. Cheaters often find themselves stolen from.

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    @21
    fine, he is arguing that because he wants something but doesn’t want to pay the price he has the right to take it

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    Ruvy, while I agree that these things are overpriced, that does not allow people to take them. Downloading is stealing, period, and it is illegal

    If we are getting all torahlical (biblical is a nicer term), the 10 trump any implied (cheating is implied) laws

  • zingzing

    “fine, he is arguing that because he wants something but doesn’t want to pay the price he has the right to take it”

    dunno if he would say he has the right. it’s a little more complex than that. and that’s what the problem is. he, if he’s being honest, isn’t the problem.

    it’s when people (who can afford $15, unlike him) weigh free vs. $15 and find $15 lacking (or still in the bank) that it starts to become an issue. it hurts everybody down the line, from the artist to the record company, to the distributors, to the record stores, and everybody in between. but that’s just how it is.

    this phenomenon has become endemic in society. that said, for years after cds came out, the record companies were saying, “the price will go down, these prices are only because it’s such a new technology with new issues and new problems… the price will go down…” and then the price never went down. until now. it’s hit rock bottom.

    and with the riaa suing the pants off housewives, it’s hard to give a shit about the record companies. radiohead found a way to make the loot (and much more loot than they ever made on a record label) by offering it up for whatever you wanted to pay. those that really loved the band and want to support them paid $15+ for it. those that didn’t, but still wanted it, put down at least some amount, and the band came out well ahead of where they would have on a label.

    still, the traditional record store environment is gone. and that’s sad. but it’s been replaced by the internet. the death of the corporate record label doesn’t bother me, although i think they should exist in some form to get bands who aren’t at radiohead levels the exposure they need.

    the industry is changing. technology has outmoded the business model. in order to survive, you must change. this is the way it’s been since the beginning of time, but now it’s an issue? too bad. it’s over. this is the way it is.

    people will steal for a while, and get away with it, but eventually, someone is going to be savvy enough to figure it out. and the industry will expand beyond anything you could imagine at this point.

    the tide has changed. it’s back in the consumer’s favor. the tide will change again. businessmen are smart.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Robert,

    Do not tell me how Jewish law works – it is a topic you do not know at all.

    There is an historical reason for bargaining, a point that you seem to miss – along wioth your ignorance of Jewish law. When a fellow sets a price, he states what he expects to receive for a piece of work.

    Where there is an issue of dispute over the value, then people bargain over the price. Bargaining is there in order to allow buyers and sellers to reach a “fair market price”. When that opportunity to bargain is removed, and a seller posts a price that is too high, the issue of cheating arises. If the buyer has no option to bargain, as is usually the case with DVD’s or software – then he has two options – to walk away without the product, or to steal it somehow. If he needs the product to make a living, and he cannot get a loan, he’ll have the incentive to steal. And any rabbi worth his shmitta will say he is right to do so.

    What has happened is that the sellers have posted prices that are too damned high for buyers, and refuse to negotiate – or bargain. In this atmosphere, buyers able to will steal, and they will have a justification to do so. You can try and throw around the ten commandments like an absolutist, but since we are governed by a whole bunch more, which have equal standing with the ten, you have no leg to stand on.

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    Here is the thing, if I own something, I have the right

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    to sell it at the price I wish to. YOu have no right to take it, under any legal, religious, or moral system

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    Ruvy, talked to a rabbi, he strongly disagrees with your statement

  • anon

    it is quite obvious that whoever wrote this is practicing gross exaggeration and is quite ignorant. Raping and killing equated to downloading? Hardly equitable. Most likely they are benefiting from writing an article so evidently biased and jaded, or they are just plain too simple minded to put this issue into perspective. stop writing. your dumbing down your audience.

  • http://whalertly.blogspot.com Robert M. Barga

    If you wish to insult me, make sure to utilize the proper words.

    Furthermore, please explain exactly what is wrong with my article.

  • Anonymous Coward

    You must be really clueless if you think this article is going to change anyone’s mind.
    An important rule in the art of convincing people is not to lie about or be biased about your audience. Because they, being themselves, will obviously know that you are lying and will not hear whatever else you may have to say.