Is Piracy Moral? A Philosophical Perspective
Let us talk about philosophical questions many people still wonder about. I would say that nearly every people that use the internet at least have done piracy once in their lifetime. This begs the question, Is Piracy Moral? After all, we can’t deny that it is so easy to get the content without paying the creator a single dime. Does this hurt many content creators in some ways? Or is it just the nature of Internet that pirated content will always there forever?
First, let’s talk about digital piracy itself. In essence, digital piracy is an act of acquiring digital content without permission of it’s copyright holder. The term “copyright holder” in this means the party who have the right to distribute and make changes to original content. Keep in mind that the creator is not necessary a copyright holder. More often than not, the actual copyright holder is someone who owns the company that gives the job to the creator. For example, a singer is not the copyright holder, the music label is. The photographer is not the copyright holder, the website which he uploads the stock photo is. You get the idea.
With that out of the way. Now we can answer the ultimate question: Is Piracy Moral? Here is my answer.
It is complicated. Piracy is NOT moral but it depends.
Now let me explain about it. The notion of piracy whether it’s moral or not is based around fairness. Everyone must get the fair share of their value when it comes to content distribution. The creator should get enough pay for their work related to content creation. The distributor should get enough pay to distributing and marketing their content. Not to forget, we the consumer should pay the content for what they worth. The consumer is not suppose to overpay for anything. And the price of every digital content is based around the market value. If one game have the price of $60, but no one wants to buy it, then the game is overpriced.
I will say something that makes piracy moral, that is, content availability. You see, not everyone around the world can enjoy the content they want to see. More often than not if you want to watch some movies / TV Shows, there are messages “The content is not available in your region”. In this case, I will say YES, piracy is moral because you can’t get the content even though you have the ability and want to pay.
Let’s not forget about grey area. Because this world is not only about black and white. I often read the question, “what about someone who wants to pay, but don’t have enough money?”. In this case we have moral dilemma. In one side the content creator will not see the money for this, and in other hand the consumer is too poor to even pay a single dime, and they resort to piracy. My take is this, let them pirate until they have enough money to pay. This is moral because we often see many kids and teenagers pirate some games they’d like to play, and later they will buy it when they have a job. So, it is still a win-win situation for everyone.
The interesting part comes about the marketing aspect of it. You see, even in the content creator realm not everyone agrees that piracy is bad. Some independent games company suggest that piracy increases their game popularity, and in turn will increase their sales. Not to mention the creator of Game of Thrones that don’t mind people pirate their shows, because this will leads to many people interested in subscribing to HBO GO. So, not every aspect of piracy is bad in itself. This is often different in many cases.
There you have it. This is only the tip of iceberg in philosophical debate of morality in piracy. My middle ground argument is it really depends on circumstances. We really can’t say piracy is 100% bad or 100% good without looking on the cases itself.