Everyone is familiar with piracy in some shape or form. We’re constantly bombarded with anti-piracy warnings in front of movies and on the backs of albums. They say “you wouldn’t download a pizza,” but in reality if you could you would.
In fact, piracy can be a good thing.
The interesting positions on the topic come from two surprising places: Vince Gilligan, the creator of “Breaking Bad,” and Jeff Bewkes, chairman and CEO of Time Warner.
In an interview with BBC’s Newsbeat, Gilligan said online piracy “led to a lot of people watching the series who otherwise would not have.” While he also acknowledged the negative effects of piracy, Gilligan has a better understanding than the average studio executive who only cares about money and rails completely against piracy.
While Gilligan’s opinion is surprising, Bewkes’ opinion is a real shocker. In response to the HBO series “Game of Thrones” being one of the most pirated television series, he said “that’s better than an Emmy.”
While it is initially a surprise, Bewkes’ opinion makes sense. In the same interview from Variety, he said viewers illegally downloading the show ultimately leads to more subscribers. If they came in from watching pirated copies of the episodes, in the long run, it wouldn’t matter.
Perhaps even more fascinating is piracy in the book industry. As surprising as it sounds, it’s a thing. At the end of the day, writers and audiences don’t care about book piracy. That’s what makes it interesting. Overall, it adds to sales more than it takes away from it.
For example, Neil Gaiman released a copy of his novel “American Gods” for free on his website around the time when it was selling well and more people bought it. The free sample makes people want more, so they buy the product.
Trends in book piracy tend to help sales. It’s a position that makes sense because there aren’t many ways to preview a book and ultimately sales are all that matters. It also doesn’t help that no one in the book industry is passionate about stopping compared to the music and movie industries.
In addition, piracy helps people become better consumers. Through pirating music, movies, TV and books, it allows people to sample things they might not buy, like deluxe edition tracks, super extended cuts of movies and TV series they can’t access. It allows people to buy the things they like the best and still sample a lot of the other things out there.
Piracy is ultimately a touchy subject. There’s a lot that ties up things legally, but it does a lot of good that people don’t realize. In the end, it doesn’t deserve the massive barrage of hate it gets.