24 July 2006

"Pirates" Redeeming 'Pirates'

I'm not keen on the term 'pirates' when applied to people who copy content; its one of those blatant attempts to pre-empt the debate by adopting a deliberately loaded terminology (rather like the idea of a 'war on terror'). My view is that pirates - the real ones - were a murderous and contemptible crew whose crimes are not even remotely comparable to those who transgress one-sided and disproportionate copyright laws, and therefore the two should never be associated.

But maybe I will need to re-visit my position. Although the reality behind pirates has not changed, the public perception probably has. And that's largely thanks to two films: Pirates of the Caribbean I and II. As a result of Johnny Depp's lovable rogue, equating those who infringe on copyright with pirates might actually make the former seem rather more admirable.

But there is something else interesting going on here. "Pirates", the film, is one of the most successful in recent times; and yet, as these figures show, it is also one of the most copied/'pirated' on the P2P networks. As noted by TechDirt, this goes to show in the most dramatic way possible, that

despite what movie execs say, their films can "compete with free" -- and do pretty well. Whether it's offering something more convenient, offering moviegoers a better experience, or using free content as a jumping-off point to sell people other stuff, there's lots of ways movie studios and theaters can thrive in the face of file-sharing. But to do that, they've got to own up to the obvious, and quit blaming piracy instead of changing how they do business.


Anonymous said...

Well, most of my whimsical associations with pirates stem from the Monkey Island series of computer adventure Games., which has parodied pirate stories. It's a crazy comedy with lots of zany humour, and beautiful graphics. (Monkey Island 3 was not as funny as the rest, though, but still playable).

It's hard to tell, though, whether this series of computer games is mainstream culture.

Regards, Shlomi Fish

Glyn Moody said...

Well, whimsy always was a very personal thing.