My point here is that piracy in the software and entertainment media fields was a pre-existing condition and that it has existed as long as any means for piracy have existed. This suggests that this "will to pirate" is somehow inbuilt, or immanent, in the original agreement of purchase and that this is where we should be looking for the reasoning behind piracy of these commodities.
Join me tomorrow then, when we will examine the basic nature of the contracts for these commodities and how it engenders a "will to pirate". We will also examine some similar types of contract that largely seem to avoid piracy and how that works.
We established in our last piece that music, video, and broadcast have all suffered from serious piracy over the years and I said previously that I would give you some examples of similar contracts to these where the same piracy issues seem not to arise. The two items I would like to cite in this respect are fine art and literature. Both are, to use a term that I personally despise, examples of intellectual property, in the same way as are our previous examples but neither suffers from widespread piracy in the west. Why so?
There are one or two differences that exempt these two "artistic products": firstly unlike music, video etc, literature and fine art are not essentially delivered streams, rather, they are contemplative and non-serial; secondly, and this in some way relates to the first point, the medium upon or within which these artistic forms are presented is a part of the apprehended, enjoyable experience - the medium is, in some intrinsic sense, a part of the message - without it the message is diminished, the impact blunted, the "quidity" of the thing is less than entire.
Granted, until the early 20th century literature tended toward the serial, the stream-like, form that defines music, broadcast, and video, if you doubt this look only to Dickens and Conan Doyle who exploited this factor to their own benefit, but any means of piracy at that stage were cumbersome in the extreme. Of course, other forms of printed material, where the medium was not a part of the message and where the message was essentially serial or factual, fell prey to piracy with the invention of the photocopier and you need only stand by a photocopier in any office anywhere in the world to see wholesale piracy of the written word taking place in open defiance of copyright law. It is interesting to note that printed music was probably being pirated long before analog or digital recorded music was even available. We have the RIAA protesting the copying of music nowadays. We have F.A.S.T. protesting the copying of software. Where are the guardians of printed material? Have they given up or is this seen as somehow, I know not how, different?
Fine art is a fascinating exception to the rampant digital piracy that stalks the artistic landscape today. If a painting were just an image this could not be so. The quality available from top notch digital scanners and printers might have been expected to have ushered in a veritable tsunami of Mona Lisas and Guernicas, life size and perfect, reproductions that you could have for only the cost of your bandwidth. And yet it hasn't happened. Somewhere along the line the art market sensed the threat from photography and photogravure and led a campaign that emphasised the uncopyable in fine art - the brushstrokes, the textures, the very pigments. The original in fine art is the only one that will do. It is an interesting exercise in outlawing the very notion that a copy can be as good as the real thing - a social engineering exercise that worked. To this day, owning a copy of a famous painting is seen as something beneath dignity, something that betrays the owner as a Philistine. In fine art the medium is now accepted as so much a part of the artistic message that they are inseparable - the form and the content.