Skewing Piracy Data

Timothy B. Lee of the Washington Post on the state of movie piracy:

And just six of the top 10 movies (Pacific Rim, The Internship, The Lone Ranger, Monsters university, After Earth, and This Is the End) were available for online purchase. Monsters University, for example, can be purchased from iTunes or the Google Play store for $19.99. The only way to get the other four movies online was through illegal downloading.

This seems like major selection bias. The movies listd in this article were all very new, some still in theaters at the time even (The Internship maybe?). Of course they would be the most pirated, and of course they wouldn’t be available for online purchase, they were not available for purchase anywhere yet.

This digital age argument that piracy is condoned because there is no other option that people deem timely is getting so old. It comes up time and time again with HBO’s Game of Thrones where people argue that because the DVDs are not released for almost a year after airing that it’s OK to download them illegaly is nuts. Just like with Game of Thrones, these movies were available somewhere, in this case a theater, which people chose not to go to.

It’s hopefully a vocal minority of people who think this way, but who knows really? It’s an abuse to the digital world that the physical world doesn’t suffer from. No one argues that it’s OK to steal a Tesla car because they are scarce and expensive. And the same people who download movies illegally would probably scoff at the thought that they are the same. Is a painting more along the same lines as a movie because they are both “artistic creativity”? If so, does that mean stealing a Michaelangelo painting is OK because it’s not readily available and cheap?

Unless you are Robin Hood, stealing is stealing.