What Should Be Done About Online Piracy? [You Told Us]

Dave Parrack 17-07-2013

What Should Be Done About Online Piracy? [You Told Us] you told us1112I’m sure many of you reading this now are pirates, or, to give the practice its less-controversial title, online file-sharers. You are free to do whatever your moral compass tells you is right to do, but you are, depending on which country you reside in, likely to be breaking numerous cyber laws From The Web To Jail: 6 Types of Computer Crimes You Can Get Arrested For Governments across the world have tried to tame the Internet as a tempest of new technology threatens everything from strict government censorship and control over the media to entrenched media conglomerates and old concepts of... Read More when you partake in this activity.


Laws against piracy of copyrighted materials existed well before the invention of the Internet, but this interconnected network of computers has turned piracy into an immediate and unfortunate problem for copyright owners of all shapes and sizes. The question is, where do we go from here? We sought to find answers to the problem of piracy in last week’s We Ask You column.

The Results

We asked you, What Should Be Done About Online Piracy? We wanted the honest views of the MakeUseOf readership, whether they constituted legitimate ways in which piracy could be halted, or an argument as to why piracy isn’t a problem that needs to be solved. I’m happy to report that we received the full gamut of views relating to Internet piracy.

What Should Be Done About Online Piracy? [You Told Us] piracy ideas1

A notable minority feel that piracy isn’t a problem at all 4 Ways Internet Piracy Can Be a Good Thing Let’s open up a can of worms and think about this for a minute: is online piracy really that bad? Read More . In fact, the idea of all content being available for free to everyone should be welcomed by both consumers and content creators. One of the arguments stated is that money should not be the absolute end goal here, and art will always be created regardless of the level of compensation.

However, the majority of people who responded to the question adopted the middle-ground. They may think the problem of piracy is being overplayed, but they can see why the current free-for-all has to be halted. Rather than taking a negative approach, this group laid out some common sense ways in which the problem of piracy could be lessened…


Interestingly not one person came out in agreement with the way piracy is currently being handled, which is creating tougher laws to try and counter the practice and going after individuals to mark them out as examples to others.

Comment Of The Week

We had great input from the likes of MunsuDC, Katharine W, Stephen Ellwood, and Mike Freeman, to name just a few. Comment Of The Week goes to Yannis Vatis, who won with this comment What Should Be Done About Online Piracy? [We Ask You] People are sharing copyrighted files over the Internet every day and in every part of the world. It's a huge problem for record labels, film studios, TV companies, and the creative people behind the albums,... Read More :

Piracy should be contended against, the way I see it. People who regularly download content for free usually fall into the following categories: a) they just want free stuff, b) it’s more convenient and c) they can’t afford to buy, view or rent content regularly.
Regarding the first category, there’s not much that can be done. It’s human nature to go for the option that provides the least risk. It is possible that the amount of people who are in this category will be greatly reduced by means of solutions for category b) and c).
Convenience is one of the primary reasons people download free content. For instance, people who live in countries outside the US don’t have access to amazing services like Hulu and Netflix. Sure they can pay extra to get a VPN or proxy but a lot of people are not as tech savvy or inclined to go through the added hassle.
Finally, price is always going to be the number one issue. The problem is not necessarily that people are not willing to pay money for software and content. It’s that for a lot of these things there is no real way for people to tell if they are worth paying for or not. Here’s an example, say I heard that Game of Thrones was a great show and I went and bought the first few episodes on some service. Unfortunately the show did not compel me as much as others and feel my money was wasted. I would have appreciated if the studio offered me, say, the first 2 episodes for free to just check it out. If I liked them as much I would at least be intrigued to buy the next episode and even if the show didn’t really pay off as much I would not feel that I wasted money. There are flaws in this suggestion, to be sure, but it’s just an example.
Content delivery is definitely getting better and better. There are tons of great services out there that have made things easier, and in some cases cheaper even. I don’t understand, though, how e-books are sometimes priced higher than their “dead tree” counterparts. I’ve read tons of articles on why digital content pricing works but I still feel the low pricing purpose – an important draw of digital distribution – is in some ways defeated. PS3 games bought on the PSN store are the same exact price as the disc, too.
My overall point is that piracy can be reduced if content acquisition gets more convenient, better and more flexible pricing models are introduced and content becomes truly global.

We liked this comment because it offers a common sense view on the issue of Internet piracy and some very real ways in which the problem could be tackled. It puts the onus on the industries involved to take the lead in improving the situation, rather than expecting consumers to simply toe the line. Which is, at this point, the only way any future compromises are going to be forged.

We will be asking a new question tomorrow, so please join us then. We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. We ask you a question and you tell us what you think. The question is open-ended and is usually open to debate. Some questions will be purely opinion-based, while others will see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to the MakeUseOf readership. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.


Image Credit: Richard Winchell

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  1. Nick
    July 19, 2013 at 3:01 am

    We should embrace piracy it's the future.

  2. Nermal
    July 17, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    (too late to enter the discussion)

    I wondered if you might actually want to hear from a pirate.

    I download movies - I have download pretty much every movie I have seen for the past ?? years,

    Before you all jump in calling be a piratey bastard and the reason why things are 'wrong'.. I also buy DVDs and BluRays!

    I pirate a movie because there is just SO much crap out there - so many absolute shit movies.

    So.. I download a movie and watch it. If it's shit (80%) then it gets deleted from the flash drive.

    if it's decent but not 'special' then I'll buy the DVD. (15%)
    If it's great or Wow!! then I'll buy the bluRay. (5%)

    I REFUSE to buy an untested movie - when they start to produce movies that I can reliably trust to put my money down on.. then I'll stop pirating them.

    When they bleat about lost revenue they really mean lost revenue from people buying shit..

    • Dave P
      July 22, 2013 at 7:22 pm

      It's not as though crap movies are a new phenomenon though. Can you not rely on review sites such as Metacritic to make a judgment before you buy? Whether you like a film or not doesn't determine whether it cost money to make or not, so it's surely wrong that you get to consume it for free.