I heard the adlib by the sports announcer as he read the baseball scores earlier this week. After mentioning the result of the Pittsburgh Pirates game, he said, “Arrr, don’t forget it’s pirate month!” I laughed at the remark and vocalized a few arrr arrr growls just for fun.
Whether or not the announcer knew why the Pittsburgh team was named the Pirates, he was right to mention pirate month. Baseball fans know that the early practice of the Pittsburgh team was to “steal” players from other teams. One of the most famous early deals was “pirating” Louisville’s Honus Wagner.
I got to thinking about pirates who are not players for the Pittsburgh baseball club. Most actual pirates are seedy characters who are infamous for unethical practices and lawless behavior. The worst contemporary examples being the Somali pirates. They had been a serious menace to shipping since the early 2000s until fairly recently. the piracy was closely related to the collapse of the central government in Somalia during their civil war. As a result, the Somali Navy disbanded and the country’s territorial waters went undefended.
Although the Somali pirates were troublesome to commerce in east African waters, there are other examples of piracy that are detrimental to the global economy but much less physically violent. They number in the millions. These are Internet pirates.
On the surface, many people think it’s OK to pirate music, movies, and other material from the Web. The problem is that pirated content is actual theft. Every time something is pirated, the creators and producers of the material do not receive payment. You might think of it as virtual shoplifting.
As our world becomes increasingly dependent on knowledge sharing, intellectual property theft becomes more threatening to the millions of musicians, artists, actors, writers, and so on who depend upon royalties to stay financially solvent. Illegal downloading is online theft.
Even scarier are criminals who troll the Web and cast about for victims with lucrative piracy websites that are dubious on the surface and in reality. They commit actual piracy by attempting to install malware on our devices and by hacking into our accounts. This is an extremely dangerous situation.
Internet pirates are serious, big-time criminals who have become extremely wealthy by raiding Internet users around the world. One of the most infamous groups of organized Internet pirates was Pirate Bay. They had an illegal profit margin of more than 1,270-percent. Pirate Bay was far more lucrative than dealing drugs.
When we take into account organized criminal activity on the Web plus individual freeloading “innocent” piracy, everyone will ultimately be hurt. There will be less incentive for creative people to market their music, movies, books, and other art. Piracy hurts business and results in actual physical job loss. Internet pirates are a real, major drag on the economy.
The problem of Internet piracy is not taken seriously by society because, sadly, we have become conditioned to obtaining something for nothing. Many of us think that just because we pay our Internet providers each month, that we don’t need to pay for product. We have devalued, in spirit and in reality, entertainment products. Many billions of dollars are lost each year to Internet piracy.
We need to clamp down on modern pirates. Then we can enjoy the fun practice of dressing up like pirates for parties and Halloween. Besides, who doesn’t like to yell out “arrr arrr”?