What did you just say about paying for content? “It’s not my policy…”

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I am a thief.

I have been for a while.

In fact, when I stop to think of it, I fear that my children might inherit the inclination to engage in this nefarious activity of mine.

Looking back in my internal memory I can’t seem to pinpoint any ONE event or activity that led me to becoming a thief. It happened over time. Years, no decades (I get scared to think how I have aged) I gradually turned into a lawless citizen.

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When I look around, I seem to see that it is the norm. I’m not the only one (no, I’m not writing from Chikurubi or Remand Prison!). There are many of us. In fact, I’m finding it hard to find anyone who isn’t.

Before you raise the ‘I’m innocent’ placard, lemme ask you a few questions.

Where did you BUY the music in your laptop, computer and/or phone? Speaking of laptop/computer, is it running on Windows? Do you have the user licence for it? Did you get your ‘product key/code’ after the purchase/payment for the software?

And the movies and series that you’ve been watching lately (yes, I hear a new season of House of Cards came out recently and is available through torrent websites), have you paid a bond coin for them? Well, have you given money to the rightful owner and not some guy who is standing on the street selling them for $1 for 2!

Then there is the situation of text books. A new school year just passed and for those of us with kids still in school, whether primary, secondary and/or tertiary the need to buy these much-needed learning tools is self-explanatory. Let me hear you say ‘Amen’ if you bought your books from Kingston’s (are they still open or they closed their doors?). Ok, maybe Innov8? Hmmm, mighty quiet in here, isn’t it…

Well folks, I’m not here to point any fingers. We’ve all done it.

This scene from The Amazing Spiderman shows Peter Parker (a.k.a Spiderman) getting into a shop to buy some stuff. Because he is not given the best of treatment he leaves in a huff and just seconds later the store is robbed. When the storekeeper pleads to him for help, he responds to him the same way he was treated just moments ago: “it’s not my policy!”

Alas, Spiderman’s very own uncle tries to stop the criminal and gets killed in the process.

What does this have to do with piracy?

Well, many times when we look and see the activities that go on in our streets, on WhatsApp and Facebook chat groups where people are blatantly STEALING someone else’s content, be it a movie, software, a textbook or even a song, we just look the other way, saying that it is not our policy to get involved (if we are not partakers of the very same act).

But my oh my, karma is a (some text missing)!!!

Today, that theft of content may not belong to you. But there shall come a day and a time when you too will have put some effort into creating something. Blood, sweat and tears later you will want to get paid. And when you realise that you too have contributed to a generation of consumers that will not pay the price for stuff, here’s hoping that the bite in your ass will not be too painful.

In a digital world where anything and everything is accessible through the right Google search, piracy is affecting us all. Whether directly (publishers, film producers, music artists, etc) or indirectly (think of a day when there are no longer relevant text books in schools because no one wants to write anymore because it does not pay…) it will have its effect on all of us.

Can we do anything about it? Even if we could, would we do anything anyway? Or will we just look away and say,

“It’s not my policy.”

23 Comments

  1. ic0n1c says:

    I can “feel” your concern but really can it be my policy? These calls to curb piracy are noble but at the end they just that, noble calls without any real action. Of course me and you and the few hundred people you know, might stop… or at least publicly stop to pirate but I think that if the leeway is there, and if one has the right tool, provided the opportunity…its still going to happen…

    But then again, “it’s not my policy” as you rightly said…

    1. William Chui says:

      @ic0nic: Collectively, it should all be our concern. As mentioned in the article it will have a ripple effect and eventually affect us one way or another.

      Yes, I totally agree, that just one of us standing up to this will not change anything, but in order to get to 1 million we have to start counting at 1!

      I have made it a policy to pay for apps that I want to us, still getting over my “challenges” with software and books…

  2. rizza says:

    The reality is people can not afford to buy copyright content..people can barely buy basic food stuff. we live in an economy which less than 4 billion dollars, until the economy improves and people have a lot of disposable income, consumer attitudes will not change.

    1. William Chui says:

      Would that then justify that I come to your house and start picking vegetables out of your garden because I can’t afford to pay for them?

      1. rizza says:

        It doesn’t because its the law but maybe its the content creators which are still using unsustainable business models in this kind of weather..and we both know content regulation is not as simple as veggie regulation..

        1. William Chui says:

          Or maybe then we can say that “veggie regulation” is outdated?

          Why do we point the finger at “Content Creators” and say that their model is unsustainable, but protect market gardeners?

          I agree that the law is lenient on offenders, last time I check you might be sent to you room or told you would not eat dinner, if you were caught pirating music. But do we continue to LOOT while we wait for stiffer penalties?

          1. rizza says:

            Don’t get me wrong, i am not condoning piracy..i am simply stating why things are the way they are..a higher problem needs to be fixed which is the economy but we don’t want to get into that..

            1. William Chui says:

              I hear you… But sadly, even if you were, the worst that could happen in Zim is a slap on the wrist, and being told you’re a “naughty, naughty boy”

          2. Tapiwa✓ says:

            Why do we point the finger at “Content Creators” and say that their model is unsustainable, but protect market gardeners?

            Because theft and piracy are two different things? And because market gardeners are not in the middle of being disrupted by technological progress.

            The equivalent for market gardeners would have been the Agricultural revolution, my advice to them would be the same as it is now: adapt to changing the times.

      2. Tapiwa✓ says:

        The difference between piracy an theft is that theft deprives the original owner the thing that was stolen. Piracy is not theft in that it pertains to something intangible (If I hadn’t pirated that series, was I going to buy it? Was it in fact possible for me to buy it legally?)

        I find it difficult to feel sorry for content producer when they do not make it possible to obtain a product legally – if a movie is showing at the cinema, I’ll pay the full price. If it’s only coming to the cinema a year after release, I have less qualms.

        The morality argument can be swung the other way: are the prices justified in an economy such as ours? Do the poor not have a right to reasonably-priced educational books and entertainment?

  3. macdchip says:

    This problem l watched it unfolding and also folding, going away in some far away lands.

    During its pick, there was a shop which used to rent dvds and movies country wide, this big blockbuster shop was competeting with pirates mostly chinese selling copied dvds at every corner and opportunity.

    But something happened which killed both! Internet started to become widely available, reliable and fast. Evething including tvs (loT) started to get connected to the internet.

    There was now no need to buy pirated movies or rent movies, that killed a big countrywide superstore. Netflix was born and youtube is now dominant.

    In short what lm saying is that as long as no reliable fast internet is available, pirating will always happen in our streets.

    Once we make internet easily accessible, new oppotunities will be opened to explore further how to monitise the series pple love to download.

    In some countries, all access to pirating sites is blocked and enforced through ISPs.

    1. Th@t Guy says:

      Mcdonald i think you missed something here, what you say above makes no different. I mean those pirated dvd consider them as back up when internet is down or you ddnt pay your internet subscription. Ok the thing here is , where did those pirates get mamovie nemaseries ? Ofcourse from torrents / via the evil hand of google. As long zimbabwe dont introduce its own version of netflix at low rates piracy will never fall from its throne. #fingers crossed, looking forward to hear from zol and econet pay tv with some kind of cheap databytes to stream

    2. William Chui says:

      Love the idea of a service provider being able to block or help enforce laws against illegal reproduction of one’s content

      1. Tapiwa✓ says:

        Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. It has been tried many, many, many times before in varying forms (“Uncopyable” audio cassettes, numerous DRM schemes, Deep Packet Inspection, DNS blocking, domain seizures). Not a single measure has ever worked.

  4. Th@t Guy says:

    I agree with you Mr William Chui, bt unfortuantely we are living in a country with limited access to content (can it be movies or series) eg without torrents avaibilty how long do you expect House of Cards to screen on our home television? I blame google for all the information he/she pass to people so don’t blame us for playing ducks and drakes with torrents, Google is the devil himself!! I do believe that technology has improved profits for many producers ,and in other words it also robs them 1/4 if not 1/2 piece of their cake. Its cat and mouse game ,thats why lawyers exist Mr William Chui, in America they are organisations that are hired to log usa based ip’s that are being used to download their content via torrents (if you go to america make sure u stay away from torrents otherwise you will receive a lawsuit letter from your isp ). We need such organizations to protect our local content bt unfortunately look at city council ,all they want is money. As long as they get their money they dont care about the content you are selling (pirated or not). Zimbabweans claim to be well educated, if its true, i think they are educated hogs that only goes for free sweet greener pasture . Most of us lacks wisdom from God ,waging your tounges doesnt solve a thing. God bless Zimbabwe!!!

  5. Lukesoft says:

    1) Simple, widely available payment methods
    2) Affordable internet packages (which you can use to actually do anything)
    3) Fair govt regulations
    =
    Vanishing of piracy

    1. William Chui says:

      But Luke, how do we explain the photocopying of textbooks and being sold right outside book shops? Do payment methods and internet packages have anything to do with this?

      What happened to Spinalong? Why do we as a people chose not to pay the original content creators for their works? If you download a Tuku album from the internet and you’re really interested in his well being as an artist, do we make an attempt to get at least $1 to him? Or even support his shows, where he now chooses to monitise?

  6. LoveJ says:

    software piracy has been a huge issue, even for million dollar companies. Thats why for adobe, CS6 was the last and its now software as a service henceforth. For microsoft as well, windows 10 will be the last. going forward, it will be software as a service… not so sure how the musicians can do it though. maybe make people listen online, without downloading, but for a fee. but then again, IDM does the trick for most people, even where downloads aint allowed. maybe programmers need help content creators with solutions, to prevent piracy… food for thought…

    1. William Chui says:

      Sure, the technological aspects and work arounds can help, but the root of the issue is that we don’t have a culture of paying for content (well, at least the price that the seller wants)…

      There are books that are available on Amazon and other book selling platforms alike Mazwi, but will a Zimbo buy?

      No. Why when we can download it from a torrenting website? Mind you torrent needs all the things that the normal procedure will need, just the missing link of financial benefit to the content producer…

      1. LoveJ says:

        yea i agree on the culture issue. it would take a while before we are willing to pay for content, esp when we can get it for free elsewhere. But free is really the new way of selling. If you got a really good product, Im sure you’ll get some precentage that will vow to make sure you have a share of their money. I know a friend who once told me they can pirate any music, but all their west-life music, they want to pay coz they want the boys to enjoy her share of income. Im sure there a couple more like that.

    2. Tapiwa✓ says:

      I don’t see any reasons why musicians should worry – they make their money from live shows. The savvy musicians upload their music for free (on YouTube), and it’s rightly considered promotion. Does it matter that someone downloaded the MP3 or is streaming on YouTube? I’d say no.

  7. Tapiwa✓ says:

    Dear Author, I have a question that’s only tangentially related to the article (I ask only because I see from your blurb you are a lead at Pindula). What are the licensing terms of information on Pindula? You crowd-source the information (and encourage contribution), but I do not see any copyright or licensing restrictions. I am assuming it’s Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike (you automatically inherited that on pages that were based off Wikipedia). I’d appreciate if you explicitly added the licensing terms to the pindula website.

    1. William Chui says:

      Thank you, noted, we’ll look into it and add.

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