The Nature of Piracy

The link a few days ago to Jim C. Hines's blog was the closest I really wanted to come to saying something about the Oatmeal and that site's recent comic about pirating the Game of Thrones TV show. Then this happened. Particularly this one paragraph (emphasis mine):
Many of them based their retort on the fact that Game of Thrones would ship from Amazon on March 6th and I just needed to wait longer. Truth be told, the show started airing almost 40 weeks ago -- I just happened to publish my comic right around the corner from when it was being released on Blu-ray. 40 weeks is a long time to wait. The sentiment that we pirate because it's easier not because we're thieves still rings true; Game of Thrones just happened to be an untimely example.
To me, arguing that timing has anything to do with it is very much a specious course of argument. Yes, it's been the better part of a year since the show started airing, on April 17th, 2011. And yes, I can imagine that that kind of wait would factor into any decision that one would make. I know this in part because I've faced the same decision.

As I've mentioned, my favorite anime series is Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. A movie, one that I had been almost intensely looking forward to, began airing in theaters on January 23rd, 2010. I was not in Japan at the time and had no ability to watch the movie, short of looking for pirated copies, until the (Japanese) DVD release on November 26th of that same year. To make a long story short, I did not watch the movie until the day of its DVD release, when I bought a copy of the DVD and watched that. (I was in Japan at the time. To date, there is no American DVD release of the movie, although the Japanese DVD has English subtitles.)

Or, take Puella Magi Madoka Magica, one of the best new magical girl shows. That began airing on the 6th of January, 2011, running until April 21st. (Its run was delayed slightly in the aftermath of the earthquake, as an aside.) The American DVDs are just now releasing - the first released on Valentine's Day this year, and the entire run won't be available on DVD until June, if I recall correctly. As of this moment, I still have not watched the entire series.

I bring up these examples not to denigrate the Oatmeal's choices, but to emphasize my own personal experience in similar situations. 40 weeks is a long time to wait, and it certainly would be easier for me to pirate these shows rather than continue to wait. I can respect that for many people, the primary factor in their decision does have to do with that ease of access - the idea that these people are mustache-twirling super-villains out to suck all of the money out of HBO's or Aniplex's coffers is ridiculous.

All the same, the defense doesn't ring true. Because regardless of the reasons behind it, choosing to pirate the series is in the end a choice to become a thief. Saying that you were acting as you did for the sake of easier access is a mitigating factor, but it is not a defense and does not change the fundamental facts of the situation. As a result, what I want to see from the Oatmeal and from the people that pirate shows is not this kind of evasion, not the "we're really not thieves, honest!" line of argument.

I direct you back to Jim C. Hines: Own. Your. Choice. Take responsibility for your decision, whether that decision was to wait or not to wait, to pirate or not to pirate. I will not outright condemn you for choosing either one, but I can have little respect for someone who refuses to admit to themselves the nature of their actions.

No comments:

Post a Comment