Piracy is starting to become a big deal in India just now with the blocking of multiple torrent download websites. Piracy is a pretty complicated topic when it comes to legality, or even morality, so I don”t think I’ll be able to put it under one specific section of good or bad. It’s somewhere in the middle, at least according to me.
Okay, full disclosure, I have downloaded a ton of movies, music and games off the internet for free through piracy. Even though I’m sort of a creator (amateur film maker) myself. And in a way that’s kind of the good thing about piracy. I, as a student of cinema, could download any number of films to watch and learn from. Piracy really democratizes content, at least for people with a decent internet connection. Honestly, 90% of the films I have seen in my life have been through illegal torrents. Which means that if torrents and by extension, piracy, did not exist, I probably wouldn’t have seen the number of films that I have. I’m sure even in that scenario I would’ve been able to pay for a few D.V.D’s for rent but definitely not all. In fact I would’ve missed out on a heavy majority. The fact that I can come across a film of any language, from any country online and immediately watch it for free makes a BIG difference. On a broad level, this is the best part about piracy. The accessibility of it all.
Coming down from a broader level to a more subjective one. One great part about piracy, especially when it comes to films, is that it gives exposure to a lot of smaller films. For example, one would watch a popular film like ‘The Avengers’ any how. In fact people would trust the big names and be willing to pay for the ticket price. However, if an independent film with an unknown crew was to come to cinemas, a lot of people probably wouldn’t trust it with their money. But if the film has caught a little bit of interest from the people, they might download a free, pirated copy of the film and check it out. If they like it, the film gets appreciated on social media and a cult following is possible. Gaining credibility is often (not always) a major priority for smaller films. Piracy helps this in a big way.
Often these bans on piracy help out the bigger films that are going to be seen anyway but kill the smaller ones which might have been supported through torrents. Big studios never fail to act like assholes, even if it is unintentional.
Now the counter point. Quite simply, you’re stealing someone’s work. Sure, it’s not the same as walking into a store and stealing a bunch of stuff. But it comes quite close. When I talk to people about piracy, a lot of people seem unaffected by it. I think that’s where the problem sort of lies. A lot of people have the attitude that it doesn’t matter at all if you illegally download a film, an album or anything else. I know this is going to sound weird, but even if you download things for free, at least you should have the courtesy to admit that it’s not a perfectly okay thing to do. And I really believe that we should start paying for the things we can. Especially for independently produced works of art. Because that money often directly goes to the artist. I know I sound like a hypocrite, but if one starts buying things, it’s probably better to spend money on the ones that didn’t make any money back.
I really think Piracy is important for our day to day lives. But at the same time we shouldn’t condone all of it. I have actually started to buy D.V.D’s for real and it feels pretty good to know that I’m finally paying for the films that have taught me so much. What I’m trying to say is that download everything you want but at least make an effort to pay for some of it. If someone has worked on something that gave you a lot of joy, the least you could do is respect them for it. I’m building a movie collection right now and even though I don’t have a lot of money on me presently, I hope that one day I can buy the D.V.D of every film that has educated me in cinema.
P.S – Needless to say, I do not condone leaks of films or any sort of art before their official release date through torrents or otherwise. Wait for the thing to release, impatient assholes.