Why is Piracy still a thing?

The ongoing debate. Piracy is bad, people should pay for their content. Piracy is hurting sales.

The stories have been grinding on forever, for as long as I can remember. The amount of articles I've skimmed through complaining about the problems, why it's bad and a host of other negative issues, there are very rarely solutions, let alone proposed solutions.

I first thought about writing this article when I read that Netflix's share price and subscriber numbers are falling. In 2019, what makes it so difficult to legally watch a TV show, movie or sport? Let's take a look back at piracy and how it's managed to nudge some big industries in the right direction.

For as long as I can remember I've been a huge nerd. When we got our first family PC back in the late 90s, and a year or so later our first blazingly fast 56k internet connection, it's been a wonder to me. The internet specifically has always been a magical place.

Seeing my Dad load up a picture from disney.com over 25 minutes or so was absolutely mesmerising. As a kid I saw this as an endlessly fun place to get things, and today sharing similar sentiments - from the Internet of Things to Bitcoin to knowledge sharing.

At some point back in 1999, a friend of my Dad's discussed being able to download music from the internet. He shared a site called Audiogalaxy, pre-Napster and was apparently taking the interwebz by storm. That afternoon, during my once a day dial-up session I browsed to the site and picked one track to download, simply waited for 45 minutes and then could listen to it on the family PC. Incredible!

I later moved to Napster when Audiogalaxy stopped working and then Kazaa. As various industries, from the music to movies, they'd run to shut down these platforms citing they were bad for business and everyone had to pay for content that they wanted.

Metallica delivered thousands of murdered trees of paper to Napster in a highly controversial case. Check it out below.

I guess I don't understand that the first thing you want to do is stop something like this as opposed to learning from it. The internet has changed the way we do a lot of things, media consumption is one of those things.

It's happened eventually, big corporates are catching on that it's less convenient for someone to go out a buy a physical piece of media as opposed to opening up a website and pushing play.

When I was younger I used to pirate a lot of stuff, from apps to music to movies and TV shows. Then I started my first real job and had some money to spend, which was around the same time that I got my first Android phone. Initially I just pirated everything because that's what I used to. At some point Google become really slick at offering apps - so I started paying for apps.

Fast forward to much later Google Music came out, and while I had a few months of transition holding onto my pirated music I realised that it was a lot more convenient to pay a monthly subscription and have all the music I could possibly want.

And hey, it's not just Google Music that's an option for people. The music industry has loads of competition out there. Use Apple devices exclusively? Apple Music is probably good for you. Spotify is huge (I've recently switched to them), then there's Deezer, TIDAL, Pandora, Amazon Music and loads others.

I can honestly say that I haven't pirated music in almost a decade, same for MacOS and Android apps. It's just more convenient and well priced to just buy the things. Maybe the big corporates are learning something?

Netflix solves that, right? No, you're wrong.

Netflix started off so well, and I don't blame Netflix at all for this, but has started failing. Or should I say media streaming as a whole has started failing recently.

It's the same archaic mindset from big companies that's killing it. We're going backwards. Instead of following the working model of the music industry, media houses think it's an awesome idea to create multiple spin-off streaming platforms of their own.

While in one breath I'm quite happy that they're embracing technology and making it work, the same can't be said about  the direction.

At least with physical media you have a few options to purchase it from, and one option to play it with. I've done this with my Plex setup - a lot of the media in my library is owned, in physical form, and ripped so I have it one place.

Outside of the cost of having to pay, monthly, for Netflix, Hulu, Disney and HBO to watch some of your favourite shows, how do you remember what show or movie is on what streaming service? It's pretty clear this is fairly inconvenient and a terrible user experience. What's the solution? Pirate it.

Nearly two decades later and movie houses, television broadcasters and whatever other slow moving corporates can't get it right. Now it's just fucking ironic when Time Warner or whatever other behemoth complains about piracy hurting their sales.

Let's say you enjoy doing a small puzzle on a Sunday night to found out which of your six streaming platforms shows The Office. That works for you, but what about your friend who's in another country? You'll probably find that some ridiculous copyright law prevents your friend and their six streaming platforms from viewing content because some other broadcaster in the country owns the copyright to something else.

I sat down the other day and worked out what exactly we'd need to replace our current solution with a more legit one for TV and Movies. I stopped the exercise after the third streaming service. Accessibility is another thing. Who actually has the money to pay for a small handful of streaming services, along with an internet connection?

Someone needs to disrupt these companies and pull everything onto one platform. If Netflix can stream 100% of my shows I'd ditch my Usenet subscriptions and use Netflix, the same way I moved over to a paid and legitimate streaming service with Google Music and now Spotify.

Considering I'm so far in the Android ecosystem I wouldn't even mind buying/renting content from the Playstore and watching it outside of Netflix.

We have the technology to make this happen, so why don't we?

Until we do though, I'll continue pirating my TV shows and Movies. When a TV show or Movie comes around that I've enjoyed I'll go out and buy it to support the humans who made it.


Rant over. I haven't written a blog in a while - I'll try and do better, if anyone's actually reading these :)