I remember when I was younger, the first anti pirating DVD ads first came out, telling us that we wouldn’t steal a purse, or a car, or internal organs from toddlers, and equating free downloads of any type of copyrighted software on the same level. Hearing stories of twelve year old girls in Minnesota being charged to years behind bars for stealing a single song. It scared the daylights out of me when my friend first showed me a pirated copy of a movie that I was looking forward to seeing. Yet, as I waited day after day, the FBI didn’t come bashing the door down, we didn’t receive any threatening letters from movie studio heads, nothing happened at all really.
One movie led to another, and a piece of software to another, and soon enough, my friend became a digital swashbuckler. Whether it was an operating system, a movie, a game or otherwise, there was a binder full of pirated software sitting under his desk that he could reach to at any moments notice to pull out for friends and family to borrow. All throughout this pirating phase, I had never once seen repercussions of his efforts. I still heard about them across the internet, all these horrors stories that laid in the fringes of news outlets, but nothing so personally felt that it actually effected me at home.
Over the years I slowly lost track of that friend, and still to this day don’t think that any feds came barging into his home to bust him for copying the latest kids movies, but who knows really? It could have happened. Personally though, it led me to my own years as a digital pirate. I joined my first movie forums when I was around fifteen. Where each new stolen copy of movies was laid out categorically for us to be able to venture through and watch at our own leisure. And through this site, I wound up joining the conjoined message board, learning about others who were in my position, and the reasoning behind their own piracy.
I also got to know the owner of the site, and the reasons behind why he did it, why he had this passion for open copyright laws, and how he battled against the systems in place in his own skirting the law way. There wasn’t a sense of being an outlaw, but more of a notion that information should be free and shared equally. It was interesting to get to know the ideas behind why people did certain things, and to explore this very illegal side of the internet, all while ignoring that I was actively taking part in this illegal activity. I always had a sense of separation throughout it all. Thinking that this was something they were doing, I was just happening along it and not really saying anything else about it. Which of course is condoning the action, though I will have to get more into those details in another post.