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Piracy Isn’t Theft, But While We’re Talking, Theft Can Also Be Pretty Cool

Listen, listen, I know we’ve had this conversation a thousand times. I can’t say I really expect anybody to change their mind because I wanted to have it for the thousand-and-first time. But look, despite what the RIAA, or the MPAA, or some exec at a AAA game company might tell you, piracy is simply not the same thing as the theft of physical goods. But also, honestly, would it be so bad if it were?
Many people base their arguments on the idea that a “lost sale” is the same thing as losing an item to theft. There are several problems with this. First of all, who says a given person was going to buy the item they pirated to begin with? You can’t lose a sale if there never was a sale. Second, when a physical item is stolen, its owner loses it. When a copy is made and distributed, the IP owner still has everything they had before. So the idea that downloading a pirated copy of Warcraft 3 is taking food out of Bobby Kotick’s mouth is just utterly ludicrous. All that said, I also feel it is very important to stress that taking food out of Bobby Kotick’s mouth is entirely just, and in fact would be extremely funny. And if, for example, instead of food it was approximately $5,000 worth of South African Krugerrands that were smuggled stateside in the ‘80s, why should that change anything? Those shouldn’t be in his mouth to begin with!
Look, I understand that unauthorized file sharing is illegal. That’s not what I’m trying to argue about here. But legality doesn’t dictate morality. For example, imagine if I were an anthropomorphic raccoon who ran a gang of thieves. Would that be morally wrong? Are we really going to argue against the morality of Sly Cooper? And as the old saying goes, what’s good for the raccoon furry is good for the human. So if that raccoon furry can be morally justified in quietly accumulating millions of dollars worth of anonymous gold coins, why can’t this human be morally justified in downloading a Minish Cap ROM, and maybe also getting a couple thousand dollars in gold Krugerrands? Illegally importing valuable currencies sure sounds like a Clockwerk move to me!

Again, I get it. We’re all pretty much set in our opinions on this. I’m not really trying to convince anyone, I just feel like sometimes it’s important that we express ourselves. Right now, what I want to express is that if I could walk into a Walmart and copy what I find on the shelves, it would just be unreasonable to say that I was wrong to do so. I would also like to express that it’s unreasonable to say that I would be wrong to just take what’s on the shelves, because anything that’s bad for Walmart is good by default.

Really, the main point here is this: fuck Bobby Kotick, fuck the Waltons, and everyone should stop looking for the gold that allegedly disappeared from my elderly South African neighbor’s house.