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What is Piracy?

Wow, important question ...the question. As always, my commentary is satire and not legal advice. First, Piracy is clearly stealing in the eyes of Law Enforcement. I am not here to try and tell you anything different, because the penalties are fierce. However, previous articles here on the SHACK describe the Human desire to get stuff free has solid basis in our cultural history. As members of the TV/Radio/PC/Cellular Generation, it is counter-intuitive to comprehend how listening to a song that is instantly electronically replicable is harming anyone. There may be five free technologies that make that possible. Four are legal and one is not, while the song remains the same. Defining pirating of Intellectual Property as something akin to Robin of Loxley is just lazy, but saying we should throw someone under the jail for listening to a song or watching a movie, using some new technology, or in this case their password, is equally thoughtless.

Obviously if criminals are burning Blu-ray discs with printed labels, heat-shrunk inside retail jackets, there is a solid case for cracking down. But there's a huge difference between counterfeiting and pilfering. Like taste-testing grapes in the Market, you know it's wrong, but the hungry brain easily rationalizes, and the act of sampling is as old as Mankind guiltily look over your shoulder and PoP~! I've seen plenty of people snag a couple grapes from the bunch as they add a bag to their cart, "...well I am about to pay for them in a couple minutes!" Luckily the FBI doesn't investigate supermarket produce pilferage, or you might never make it to the checkout line, instead finding yourself face down on cold shiny concrete sporting a fresh pair of zipstrip bracelets ...comments below.

All Your Grapes R Belong to Us

What to do? Even though you fully know that grape does not belong to you you chew and swallow, your mind has the ability to spin a web of denial about all the reasons it's not technically shoplifting. Especially as you decide "Yes!" and toss a 98% full bag into your basket. But what if indeed the grapes had been sour and you decided "No! I almost wasted my money on sour grapes!"? Would it be smart for the Produce Manager to grab you by the shirt collar and eject you from the Market after witnessing your pucker-pussed act of sampling, then visibly deciding to not buy, and next tossing the gnawed bunch back in the bin? Clearly not a profitable decision, but a righteous option.

Alas all the grapes belong to the merchant in the eyes of the Law, and your thieving rationale counts for zip ...but at the same time have you ever seen anyone arrested for sampling anything fresh/bulk in a marketplace? Even when "No Sampling" signs are visible? Don't we have some right to immediately assure ourselves as to the quality of loose/fresh food we are procuring? Does a reasonable amount of grocery pilferage get chalked to "the cost of doing business?" I'm not proposing we whip up a batch of guacamole from the case of avocados before we buy, as I am only talking about grapes ...ok maybe some of those bulk Gummi bears. I hate stale candy. While it is easy to speculate how this might raise the price of grapes for everyone, would making it a federal offense deter any aspect of this ancient cultural behavior?

The successful Merchant cannot simply toss out all the samplers. Instead he must address the axiom "The Customer is Always Right", and come up with a sociable yet profitable business model to be sustainable long-term never trying to pedal sour grapes. I believe the knowledge folks might sample your product keeps the Seller more quality conscious. Now I know this comparison of sampling tiny fruit with modern electronic Piracy is apples and aliens, but it raises some important questions. Like how many times the sampling of pirated software turns into a fully licensed sale ...which doesn't make your "sampling" legal. How can we hope to achieve that evasive balance between Freedom, profitability, a clear conscience, and the raw Human desire for sweet sweet grapes?

That's not a pink grape!

I could solve the grape problem today by giving all Produce Managers Ninja katanas for hacking off offending hands! It's easily agreeable Modern society would never agree to adopting this solution, but I assure you, some sword play would cut waaay down on the grape sampling problem. The first time you reached in a bag of grapes and pulled out the tip of the last guy's thumb is guaranteed to ...well, likely be the last time you even eat grapes. I'm not recommending this, my point is, I see over-zealous legal "solutions" like this being proposed exponentially as new Internet and Media technologies demand new profit protections.

In my opinion, as these new Intellectual Property challenges arise, one side of the equation is not proposing common-sense, socially-moderate punishment-fits-the-crime penalties. It remains thumbs-up for "Off with their hands!" deterrence. More importantly, this legislative process begs to hear from both sides, but there seems to be no room for debate. When considering the penalties for breaking these plainly business cash-flow protections, let us remember what we are talking about. Music, movie, and software consumption without immediate payment, and the legislative basis for punishment should never be a one-sided view. I am only offering that, right or wrong, perhaps some percentage of electronic pilferage may be the cost of doing business electronically.

The Movie and Recording Industry claims their business has been cut severely in the last ten years, mostly due to piracy. I say the intent to "sample" is largely to blame, because consumers are getting ears and eyes full of sour grapes. The Industry demands sampling be held to the level of counterfeiting because they need to be able to put lipstick on a plethora of less-than-entertaining pigs. Slicked up movie trailers and sexy disc covers are only successful sales tools when customers are forced to buy sight unseen/unheard. It is easy to believe repeated Buyers Remorse drives the motivation to sample. That has not stopped them from looking for somewhere else to lay the blame. In the eyes of Justice, is the man who puts back the sour grapes more or less wicked than the Retailer trying to sell sealed bags of known low-grade product? I say one is greedy and crooked, and the other is simply wary, but I forgot ...Justice is blind!

Let Zeus Take the Wheel

To find a solution I think Justice and Technology need to go toe to toe. I always picture Justice as that topless statue Attorney General Ashcroft felt compelled to cover, symbolic of the Puritans at the helm. OMG! a BOOB! ...on a statue, and these old in-the-Corporate-pocket Squares are making laws about the Internet and Intellectual Property? Visible on that specific incarnation of Justice (both hands in the air) she may have beat Janet Jackson to the panic-inducing reveal, but in the more common statuary, Lady Justice is portrayed by the Greek Goddess Themis. Remember? She carries a balance (scales) in one hand and sports a blindfold, but in the other hand she's holding a sword to represent Social Control and the severity of legal enforcement. Always holding her scales, I can tell you Justice is a typical Libra ...stab first, ask questions later, and regularly exposing at least one tit. ...Libras put your comments below.

If Technology was a statue he'd be the Greek God Hephaestus, but let's call Hephaestus "Mr. Technology", so as to not go all Greek on my readership. If you look at the picture he's holding a hammer in one hand and a giant nipple clamp looking thing in the other just know where this is going, and "Yes", I make this shit up as I go along. I'm just sayin' ...Technology is screwing with Justice 24/7/365. MizJustice is tasked to blindly keep balance and fairness as a way to bring social order, maybe put the throttle on Mr. HammerPants, but otherwise deliver consequences to those who would disobey ...obviously a Dominatrix. A Libra, exhibitionist, dominatrix ...and Freak Numero Un in this scenario. OMG~ Justice is soo HaWT!

She Likes It Blindfolded

The dynamic challenge of Justice is based on the notion that the status quo does not stay "quo" for long. Mr. Technology clearly deserves a majority of the blame for all those Seeds of Change, and all that relentless hammering being dealt with by Ms Justice qualifies him as freaky Motherf'er Numero Deux in this scenario. He doesn't even care, he's friggin' swinging his huge hammer and trying to get some traction with those tongs on the good Lady's twiddly bits. While Technology keeps busy making something cool from an old thing he just hammered into obsolescence, his day is not complete without poking Lady Justice. It's just how he deux. Quite the inseparable couple.

Many of these social pangs we experience come from Mr. T. grabbing Lady J. by the ponytail and calling her Phoebe (her sister's name), and like molten lava from below, we are all in for one Hades of a ride. With all the legal conflict lately, obviously Lady Justice is fighting to keep Mr. Technology out of her hair. Ladies you can attest, it is not that easy, especially since the first thing Hephaestus perfected was his hammer-eye coordination. Lady Justice is not blind or blindfolded, that cloth tied around her eyes is for occupational protection. [apologies to the ladies ...I mean, sorry you didn't think of it first!]

Examining some of the recent Anti-Piracy enforcements, it seems the good Lady has said "Enough!", and has her Mr. in a two-handed death-grip ...painful. This couple needs an intervention. Obviously Mr. Technology is a swinger (promise that's the last hammer joke), and I believe it's time for Technology and Justice to have a 3-way. Since Technology is not into dudes, let's think what other statues of Greek Goddesses we can toss into the mix ...hurm? Lady Liberty fits the bill in this little scenario, an equally freaky addition to make this a hot threesome. There are claims the statue is modeled after the Greek Goddess Hera, but we all know Lady Liberty is French and clearly into B&D. A freaky patinaed Goth chick with a spiky crown. That should keep Technology out of Lady Liberty's hair. Giant torches are also very HoT. Justice, Technology, and Liberty? Government can be sooo SeXy, and there's nothing hotter than a good debate.

End Statue-tory Rape

My advice? Besides demanding some debate and equal participation from both sides, we can all start by eating less loose food at the market before we get to the checkout. Ahm, it's not really "loose". These humorous examples are meant to offer perspective, and not to advise you kids to go to the bulk market and chow down. The letter of that law is known as shoplifting. When those handcuffs are a' ratcheting, don't come a' hatcheting for ol' Bo. In all fairness we all know there are plenty of examples of sampling on MP3 sites for music and trailers for movies, but snipping out all the best parts to represent the whole is as much trickery as turning all the wormy apples shiny side up under shrink rap and labeling them "Organic" ...then charging twice as much.

I have already asked, but it bears repeating, setup your RSS newsfeed with some sites like the ones above, and stay on top of the fast-paced legal shenanigans where our liberty and privacy are placed second to corporate profits. Then have a voice. I'm not here to inform you of the real deal, this is just my voice, and I have no intention to define yours. Believe this, those Scales of Justice can't balance without you weighing in, and "Shame!" on those who would run interference on that process. On the other side of the fence, if we could keep Lady Liberty involved, we just might be able to make Justice and Technology achieve a Happier Ending. The wisdom in this bit is that if those three are busy screwing with each other, maybe they would be less focused on screwing us! I feel a comic book coming on ...Ménages des Justice Freaks!

Once again thanks for stopping by the usenetSHACK, where we try to make (non)sense out of today's Usenet News. Be sure to sign up for our Twitter and RSS Feed, so as to not miss out on my next... not really sure what it's called. Oh yeah, Commentary, and (for now) politically protected free speech. Get it while it's HoT, and hey leave some comments if you would like to read more... and a signed first edition of Justice Freaks would be nice, so get crackin'!



BoDark posted by BoDark
This entry was posted in Commentary and tagged aliens, justice, liberty, privacy, rights, sampling, usenet. Leave a comment. Header image by cuttlefish


  1. Posted Aug 8th, 2011 at 16:08 p.m.

    OMG I'm replying to my own posts now... Anyhooz, I discovered a nice blog by the lady in the video linked above about how ISPs are now going to do the bidding of the MPAA and stop copyright infringement at the carrier level that the content creators are buying the deliverers of our Internet services (NBC Comcast). So check out Wendy's blog at ...good stuff. Be sure to leave a comment and say "usenetSHACK sent me!"



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  2. typewriter
    Posted Aug 9th, 2011 at 03:08 a.m.

    Enjoyable commentary Bo, thankyou :)

    Are you familiar with Cory Doctorow and what do you think of his opinions regarding copyright?

    "Doctorow believes that copyright laws should be liberalized to allow for free sharing of all digital media. He has also advocated filesharing.[26] He argues that copyright holders should have a monopoly on selling their own digital media, and copyright laws should only come into play when someone attempts to sell a product currently under someone else's copyright." From wikipedia - Cory Doctorow

    I don't think it really comes down to 'sampling'. I think we just want/need/demand more freedom to do whatever we want with intellectual and digital products.

    A recent trend(?) of selling indie games with a 'pay what you want' model, to my knowledge, has been successful. People are intelligent, and we're not all jerks. No-one is opposed to paying rewarding for something worthy.

    Right now sellers are rewarded for exploiting us. The more they advertise their bad movie as good, the more money they make. Never mind tricking millions of people out of their money to see their steaming pile. Stealing from millions of people..

    If sharing were more free, then sellers/publishers/advertisers would be rightfully penalised for misrepresenting their products with advertising because they would be caught out far more often. Sellers would be forced to only create things people would pay for after knowing all the facts. Ordinary Janes and Joes would no longer be fined $hundreds of thousands for such petty actions as downloading a song. Students and others who simply might not be able to afford a product wouldn't be left in the cold.

    What is the other side of this? It seems pretty positive to me. It's not a major change to the way of things right now. Some tweaking here and there, really. People are not jerks. People are not stupid. We would all quickly realise that if we as consumers didn't do our part and reward the worthy, things would fall apart and no-one would get anything. And so we pay for the good, and we neglect the shit, and.. we all live happily ever after :D

    Btw, as a lover of rss and information, I recommend you monitor for articles and discussion on topics you are interested in. Have a look at these links.

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  3. Posted Aug 9th, 2011 at 05:08 a.m.

    Thanks for stopping by and making a meaningful contribution, for the RSS tips, and the smiley.

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