Re-blogging an excellent blog post.

Re-blogged from Illusion of More.com

What I’d tell my own kids about piracy. Why scarcity is a good thing.
by David Newhoff Posted on January 17, 2013

The ongoing debate over copyright in the digital age is clouded by so many layers of new-age malarkey and overblown, political banner-waving that it’s easy to lose sight of the behavioral realities behind all the self-serving theories of bloggers, legal scholars, corporate interests, and futurists. Take a very common activity like watching movies online via torrents or other sites that enable free viewing. My kids’ generation, growing up around this behavior as a norm, will hear words to describe this kind of movie viewing as contrarily theft or sharing. What are they to make of it? Certainly, I’ve taught them to share and not to steal. For the sake of their cultural and psychological growth, however, I’d suggest for the purposes of discussion, that this kind of media overconsumption is, if nothing else, dumb.

For context, we need to admit that the majority of unlicensed, online movie viewing is done by young, middle-class, generally privileged Americans, who are watching mainstream, Hollywood-produced fare. Search for top movies viewed through torrent sites, for example, and you’ll find that the lists will be comprised of tentpole films produced by the big studios who represent the part of the industry most vilified for efforts to mitigate piracy. If that hypocrisy is not enough to raise your brows, though, the very nature of these films is then used as a justification for the pirate-enabled viewing in itself. We typically hear some combination of the following: “So much of the mainstream stuff is junk that it doesn’t deserve to be paid for. These films already make millions. I would never pay to see it anyway, so it’s not like they’re losing a sale.” If my own kids presented me with these rationales, we’d have a serious talk because this is corrupt thinking no matter what the law, the technologists, or the economic theories say.

Consolidate these oft-repeated positions into the declarative, first person, and the stupid shines through a little clearer: “I’m going to spend hours of my life watching movies I probably won’t like, but because I expect not to like them, I’m not going to pay for them.” And as a kicker, “I am going to help put money in the pockets of the people who stole the movies in the first place.” Bloggers like Mike Masnick will try to argue the new and bizarre economics of free media; and scholars like Mr. Lessig will argue that there is something intellectually or culturally constraining about “permission culture.” Then, these purely academic theories trickle down to the ears of my kids and their contemporaries, who translate it all into the aforementioned rationale. But as a parent living in the real world, what I’ve just heard my kids say is that they’re shoplifting cartons of potato chips at the corner store, which doesn’t matter because chips aren’t real food anyway. Hence, my kids now have both a moral and a health problem.

With regard to movies (or any creative media) the first thing I’d tell my own children is that their lives are not at all enriched by watching scores of films they probably won’t like. To the contrary, when they make time for media consumption, they should develop a critical sense for what kind films might be worth the investment of their time and attention. What matters is not the fifty films they’ll forget within hours of viewing, but the five this year that will change their lives in some way. It doesn’t matter that the sale for the producers of the tentpole is zero whether my kid watches it through a torrent or doesn’t see it at all; what matters is making the decision that if it isn’t worth paying for, it probably isn’t worth the equally valuable resources of time and attention. In short, it’s not only okay to let some things go, you don’t really have a choice.

It is a valuable component of cultural experience for the individual to pay attention to what kind of art or media affects him and to seek out that which fulfills these emotional connections. Nobody can watch, read, listen to, or experience everything; so there is not only nothing wrong with scarcity, it is an absolute necessity for an individual’s cultural development. Those who promote the idea of abundance as some sort of digital-age renaissance are not really contributing to a more enlightened, more cultured generation so much as they’re breeding a new crop of agitated media junkies. Remove for a moment the questions of legality or creators’ rights, and we’re still living in an era of media obesity and don’t yet know what this means for the future of culture in general.

Many of the filmmakers whose works have touched my life and the lives of my contemporaries were dead before the Internet was even built. We somehow managed to experience their films without this technology and without in any way contributing to IP theft. Through pre-Internet experiences, I have seen motion pictures that I doubt my own children will ever know existed; and still, in over thirty years of loving this medium, I know that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of films that I will not see in my lifetime. This is true for my children as well, despite the overblown promise of technology to put “the world at their fingertips.” So, what I’ll tell my kids is simply this: “You can’t consume it all, you shouldn’t try, and whatever is worth your time is also worth your money.”

© 2013, The Illusion of More. All rights reserved.

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About Granger Whitelaw

Granger Whitelaw founded the Rocket Racing League along with partner, Peter Diamandis in 2005. See more information at http://www.grangerwhitelaw.com/blog and http://grangerwhitelaw.brandyourself.com View all posts by Granger Whitelaw

8 responses to “Re-blogging an excellent blog post.

  • Merlin

    This is indeed a beautiful post that you reblog. Anyway it is really true that watching movies from the internet make us thief due to some copyright issues but that is what I want to know also because many are doing that and I don’t know if it can be stated as being a crime. I hope there will be a good action to that so that we won’t feel uncomfortable about it.

  • Jena

    Yes this is may be true “For context, we need to admit that the majority of unlicensed, online movie viewing is done by young, middle-class, generally privileged Americans,”, I also don’t know what to say about it because I think it is very different from “stealing” I guess, stealing is a very harsh and hard word to compare to watching some movies online and streaming live shows and sports.

  • maria

    Yes its true share and not to steal. Its really nice if we expose and teach our younger generation with this act.I really your reaction here ” It is a valuable component of cultural experience for the individual to pay attention to what kind of art or media affects him and to seek out that which fulfills these emotional connections. Nobody can watch, read, listen to, or experience everything; so there is not only nothing wrong with scarcity, it is an absolute necessity for an individual’s cultural development.” Film makers spent their time, effort and money for the movie that they will make just to entertain us, us people.. So in return we must pay there effort. Thanks for your article.

  • Ian

    And this is what makes it more alarming “For context, we need to admit that the majority of unlicensed, online movie viewing is done by young, middle-class, generally privileged Americans”, maybe this is one of the reason why our children nowadays can’t be fully controlled and internet is making a lot of things on them and those things are commonly not good for them and in my opinion at their age they should not be exposed totally to it because internet is a very dangerous place.

  • Ceiline

    Wow! Such an amazing line and the main line that I really like with this article and I think I feel the line really much “You can’t consume it all, you shouldn’t try, and whatever is worth your time is also worth your money.”, I just want to add that we can’t really control it and the best thing that we do is to talk to our child about this things and tell them honestly and tell them what they must do and what emotions must be felt with this.

  • Janel Lion

    Yes! And totally been called by professionals as a crime or many disgusting terms “My kids’ generation, growing up around this behavior as a norm, will hear words to describe this kind of movie viewing as contrarily theft or sharing”, I think it is really what they are calling but part of me also is I think that it is okay, yeah! A part of me is bad but what can we do about it, I mean as long as you don’t do anymore physical bad things it is lesser done bad thing.

  • Mark Anthony

    Wow! It is indeed worth re-blogging, I like the last part so much and you can see through behind the line that there is a pride that supported the line and it is really manly and brave to say that I am touched by it. Sometimes we have to really let go of things not just because we don’t like it but it is just that it will be better if we will do that way and you know people have lived for years before this internet and people still existed by not doing such illegalities in the internet.

  • Jasha

    Thank you so much for informing us this one “Many of the filmmakers whose works have touched my life and the lives of my contemporaries were dead before the Internet was even built.”. I like watching movies too and to be exact I like logical and reasonable movies. I like watching journals also and some interviews of famous people on how they have achieved their place now. I am much of a person that really likes watching things that can add things on my knowledge.

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