Stealing Video: A Pirate’s Life for Me?

Posted: May 8, 2012 in employment

Johnny Depp makes it look easy, effortless …charming.

In Pirates of the Caribbean, the movie star smiles through his lines with ease and grace. Captain Jack Sparrow manages to elude Her Majesty’s Navy and various evil doers on the 19th Century high seas. Captain Jack made the Pirates of the Caribbean movies a billion dollar empire. The pirate is romantic and charming.

But video and audio pirates today are far less romantic as they elude authorities. And the damage they do to artists is anything but charming. Pirates take without remorse because sites like Pirate Bay and Bit Torrent make it easy. Pirates rarely if ever think about stealing. Besides, everyone does it.

U2’s frontman, Bono recently wrote a column in the New York Times. “A decade’s worth of music file-sharing and swiping has made clear that the people it hurts are the creators — in this case, the young, fledgling songwriters who can’t live off ticket and T-shirt sales like the least sympathetic among us,” he wrote, listing his top 10 desires for the next decade.

Monday night in COM 583 we discussed the issue and it was clear that piracy is mainly troubling to those of us over 40. Too bad. It reminds me of shoplifters I knew when I was growing up who routinely stole record albums. I’d hear all the time about the profit margins of retailers and record companies. It’s ok (the argument went) for you to rip off the record in the store because if you bought it – you were getting ripped off by greedy storeowners and a bloated record industry.

Unfortunately, piracy today has many victims. It’s hard to say what may have to happen to protect their rights. But we ought to at least consider that someone had to create Pirates of The Caribbean. It all started as a Disneyland ride.

Didn’t Disney have to be paid for the rights to the screenplay, the movie, the soundtrack and the DVD that Johnny Depp made famous?

And when asked where he got the inspiration for Captain Jack, Johnny Depp admitted he stole liberally from the manerisms of Rolling stone guitarist Keith Richards.

But producers made that right by offering Richards a supporting role as Captain Jack’s father in one of the Pirates sequels. Ammends were made. Credit was given. Richards was paid.

Even today’s symbol of piracy comes with a price.

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