The other night I found myself wanting to indulge in a childhood pleasure: John Christopher’s The Tripods trilogy. With my copy of the series long since lost to time, I did a quick search to see if there were any readily accessible e-book versions of the first novel in the triad, The White Mountains.

As a Kindle owner, the freely available e-pub editions of the book aren’t that useful. So I weighed the pros and cons before taking to Amazon. That’s when I saw this. (You you may need to click to enlarge)


My rage raneth over. How does the e-book cost more than the paperback? I took to twitter, facebook, tumblr, and google plus to voice what I saw as a grave injustice. I cited this particular example as the #3 reason why people pirate things. Jon Eric, a google plus friend of mine, then asked what occupied the first and second position on my list. Submitted for his, and your, approval are my top five reasons why I think people commit various forms of data piracy.

Convenience/Poor Impulse Control/Entitlement

The Oatmeal posted a great cartoon a while ago about the various machinations involved in trying to own the first season of Game of Thrones. After months of waiting, paying for additional services, and waiting some more, the character in question downloaded the entire first series in eight minutes.

Piracy is the ultimate answer to wanting something now. Said demand is often rationalized, if not legitimized, through a sense of entitlement. Case in point: a person who pays for HBO can twist that subscription into a right to download episodes of HBO’s programming. DVD profits be damned. If we apply that logic to my situation, I know I own a paper copy of The White Mountains; why should I have to pay for it twice?


Every time a judge, either in Canada or the US, renders an opinion in defence of IP addresses as something that can’t be bound to an individual person, I fear a move toward more invasive internet monitoring. Others see those verdicts as a licence to torrent to their heart’s content. Even though the first round of Napster lawsuits are old enough that they would be starting high school next year, impudence in the face of potential reprisals, well founded or otherwise, is still a dominant sentiment among pirates in their various forms. That discussion is made all the more interesting when conversations on data cryptography come into question. If downloaders are always three steps ahead of regulators, thanks to open source crypto projects, why should they fear the consequences of their infractions?

Consumer Outrage

I think this point speaks for itself. The book publishing industry might have been smart in adapting to e-readers early on in the game, but it still operates under some painfully outdated models. Given the ongoing expense that goes into producing books versus the one time investment that is an e-book, there’s no justification for the latter costing more than the former. Tell me the money is going directly to the writer’s royalties, and I might change my tune.

This concept holds true in software and music, as well. If the consumer thinks they’re getting the screw job, piracy becomes an act of righteous rebellion. Said screw jobs include geo-locking prices and availability despite the fact that globalism and multinational companies invalidate many arguments on economic protectionism. Nor should we forget product pricing that assumes Reagan is in office and subsequently increases the price on products for Canadian consumers, just because. Yes, yes, economies of scale factor into that equation. Try telling that to somebody who is in the throes of level four rage mode upon learning that Americans pay 30% less on something because of an economy of scale.

The Delusional Beta Tester

““I’m not a pirate” says the delusional beta tester. “I just don’t believe in buying something before I’ve had a chance to test it.”

Right. Except that the delusional beta tester never quite seems to get around to actually buying the product that they have been using.

The Copyright Vigilante

I don’t know that I buy into this idea, but I’ve seen it cropping up on message boards with a little too much frequency to ignore it.

The argument goes that the powers which legislate copyright have taken protecting intellectual property too far. How far is too far? To the point that eternal copyright is stymieing innovation. In so much as every innovation is an improvement on an existing product, the market for making things better is subject to armies of lawyers who claim intellectual property at every turn. While I can see a relationship between this trend and a growing entrenchment of the ultra-rich, I don’t quite see how downloading Game of Thrones tracks as a feasible act of resistance. I suppose it’s just a damn the man philosophy.

There’s my top five. Why do you think people take to piracy?