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Why I Love Piracy


I'm a pirate. I love digital piracy. I think America and the world are better off for it. 

Mother 3. Let's use this to illustrate one reason for pirating. Nintendo of America does not make this game available for you to purchase. They have literally made the decision not to make money off this property.

If you don't believe me, download a rom of Mother 3, then contact the big N to see if they will take your guilty penance money. They will not. They will laugh at you, then later briefly feel sorry for you in retrospect, late at night, just before they nod off to sleep. Oh, you, Reggie will recall, half dreaming already, Oh, you with your grubby claws clutching a few impotent bills that add up to the game's (theoretical) North American retail price. Then Reggie will fall asleep and forget about you forever.

Like the clammy-faced guilt of the orthodox over their own genetically mandated sexual urges, you're heart may be reaching for the light, but you wind up pointlessly wallowing in shite.

I own an R4 card. I love it. I just downloaded LovePlus, and went through a few awkward steps to put an English patch on it. I'm very much looking forward to checking out this bizarre artifact of Japanese schoolgirl girlfriend simulation. It's a fan translation, of course. There is no official translation or western release of this game at all. They don't want your money. Hell, over on the PS3 I've even created a Japanese PSN account--but it won't let me buy Japanese games with a debit card associated with an American address. They've literally put up barricades to protect themselves from my money. (And let's not even begin to dig our fingernails into the boil of region locking.)

But what about media that is readily available here? I'll tell you the truth: I just downloaded Daft Punk's new album, Random Access Memories, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's The Heist. I'm really enjoying them. I own my own entrepreneurial business (that also deals in a piratable medium, by the way.). It's just starting out. It's on the upswing, and holds a large amount of assets, yet I'm not in a situation where I can pay myself anything yet. I do acting gigs on the side. I'm in the Screen Actors Guild (now SAG-AFTRA), so I get paid a fair amount for my work, but work is scarce enough that I am not above doing background in, say, a Microsoft training video (this is not a joke.) For a while, I was also vaccuming the carpets of my apartment building from time to time for a few extra bucks. My wife is a writer and together we barely manage to get by. My mom brings us groceries from Costco frequently.

The point is that I would not have purchased The Heist nor Daft Punk's Random Access Memory. I would not have heard these albums in their entirety were it not for piracy. But now I am a Macklemore fan, for example. I will be interested in his work. And I'm promoting it here.

Of course, I believe that if you can afford it, you should pay for the media you consume. But if you can't, though, then don't sweat it. It's on the house. Otherwise we're just creating yet another schism in our society where only the moneyed have access to cultural offerings. With piracy, even the financially downtrodden have a chance to access film, music, books, games, useful software, and so on.

I believe piracy improves our society. And I don't think Macklemore is such a cutthroat capitalist that he would like me less because he didn't get $2 out of me or whatever his personal percentage is of an album sale. I just don't think he views people merely as potential sources of revenue. And I literally created a new copy of his work to listen to. Nothing was subtracted from him. 

Nor do I feel guilty when I borrow a game from a friend, play it and never pay the creators for it. (Although I guess this liberty is at risk.)

Whoever you are, you only have a finite amount of money to spend on arts and culture. If you pirate The Heist, the money you would have spent on that could instead be spent on say, The Humble Indie Bundle (I just purchased the latest bundle today, in fact.) What you've done in this example is reallocate money from someone who is literally a member of the 1% (I don't mean that in a bad way) to a group of people who are presumably not, including a charity.

What do you think? Am I a rotten thief? Feel free to sound off below.

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About Jagger Gravningone of us since 12:48 AM on 05.12.2013

Co-host of the Go For Rainbow Podcast