It bothers me that the entertainment industry has hijacked the word “piracy”. In fact, it really bothers me.

I don’t really have a problem with entertainment firms seeking money for the product they’ve produced. But, for me to have any respect for it at all, it has to be called something other than piracy.

What it is, in fact, is copyright infringement. But the industries won’t call it that, because it doesn’t sound serious. And that’s because it isn’t. Sure, music firms, movie studios and the like can claim it’s costing them billions, but the fact is in these industries, profits are up.

You can’t really say what copyright infringement costs, because any number arrived at comes from the amount of (trackable) times a product is downloaded. So, if you were looking at every single torrent site, both public and private, then you could arrive at the conclusion that your film had been downloaded a million times. You would then jump to the conclusion that you had lost a million customers.

You don’t have to be a genius to understand that this is, in fact, wrong.

People who download things may have purchased your film, or they may not have. I’m not all that bothered about watching a lot of stuff, but if it was free, I might change my mind. That’s because, to me, the value of some things is zero. As an example, I watched a lot of episodes of Heroes when it was on. I can honestly say, having seen those episodes, their value to me was zero. Had you asked me to pay for them, I wouldn’t have bothered.

So – and I honestly haven’t done this – if I downloaded the Blu-ray rips, the producers would have lost nothing at all. I’m not arguing it’s morally right to download things, I’m just saying that to conclude that you’re “losing money” is incorrect in the extreme.

But that’s not the point. The point is, it’s not piracy. Piracy involves people on a boat who attack, loot and capture other boats and often the people within. Piracy is horrible, and if you ask ANYONE who is involved in shipping, it’s a terrifying and incredibly real threat.

Downloading a Blu-ray is most certainly not.

So can we stop please? Journalists, don’t allow yourselves to be bullied into calling it piracy. It’s copyright infringement, nothing more. If we’re going to serve the public with our words, then we need to be clear, and having one name for two things that couldn’t be more different is ridiculous.


Image by Lynn Friedman CC licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0