This is in response to a post by Shaunta Grimes, in which she discussed plagiarism and pirating. It’s a really good one. Read it here in The Write Brain. Most of what’s written below is a copy/paste of my original response to her post. I added a few paragraphs here because I had additional thoughts, and of course, I added images & formatting.
I think that there are benefits to being pirated. I acknowledge that this is my perspective as someone who has never had work to pirate, and I imagine that having one’s work pirated is frustrating. I don’t condone copyright infringement. However (again, my perspective), it means that 1) the demand is there, 2) it can generate publicity, 3) it provides opportunity.
I’m sure that it sucks not to have that control over what people receive for free. In pirating scenarios, readers are taking rather than being given.
However, maybe one of the current realities of pirating — or bootlegging — is that it provides an opportunity to create other ways to make money. Maybe those “pirates” tell their friends about [music/book/TV show], and their friends buy that thing, and word-of-mouth from pirating helps sales.
My word-of-mouth theory relies on the end-user knowing who the content creator is, or at least being able to identify the work. They know the name of the musician or author is, or know enough about that movie or TV show to recommend it.
Maybe instead of resisting the reality of pirated content, creators need to lean in and find ways to use it to their advantage.
Some consumers will never buy, some will, some will support in other ways
Sure, some people will never buy, but others eventually buy. Back in the 90s, I used to torrent TV shows and then buy the DVDs. I approached pirating as “try before you buy”. I don’t anymore — I stick to the free-but-legal method of borrowing library books and then buying (some of) them after my credit card bill has been paid.
I’ve added this next section:
Around 2000, on what would have been one of the early stock image websites, I found an illustration online that resonated with me deeply. If I recall correctly, it showed two women but implied that both were the same woman.
One woman had dark hair and a cross tattoo blowing a bubble with gum, the other was angelic-looking. There might have been a mirror between them. This image seemed to demonstrate angel vs. dark angel. I fell in love with her. It was sort of a crush.
I printed this image out on a colour printer. I wanted to buy a print but could never find the artist. I wanted to tell the artist that their image affected me. I wanted to thank them, and tell them that I appreciated their work.
I tried finding the artist through the website on which I’d found the image. I tried a reverse image lookup. Every so often I’d try again, but as the internet grew, my chances seemed to decline.
I carried this print-out with me through many moves but I think it’s gone now. I had it framed for awhile. The paper frayed.
When I was searching for an image to use in this section — on Unsplash and then Pixabay, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I found her?” I didn’t want to spend a ton of time on my image search. The image above is only slightly comparable.
Final note on pirating
Don’t forget: Game of Thrones was the most pirated TV show ever. And no, not everyone is George LL Martin.
Again, that’s my perspective. Maybe I’m being far too optimistic and giving humans being far too much credit. I’m well aware that people can be horrible.😉
Join my email list to get notified of new posts and other free resources as they’re created.
(By clicking, you agree to leave Medium.com and submit your contact information, which will not be shared.)