Piracy: Unlawful Noble Act

The Internet is full of reports saying that “Russian security agencies are going to stop the work of two major metropolitan centers selling electronics, home appliances and media vehicles – Gorbushka and Gorbushkin Dvor. There was a wide variety of reports. Some wrote that prosecutors are about to officially close the entire complex, others claimed that the press-service of the police department in Moscow did not hear anything about it. The most common was the information that the disks were checked for licenses and that 26,000 discs have been confiscated.

However, many emphasized that Gorbushka did not provide any comments about the audits, and head of TC Gorbushkin Dvor Vasilina Zoremba stated that the audits are conducted regularly, and that Gorbushkin Dvor was scheduled to host an annual conference on the protection of Copyright and fight against counterfeiting.

In general, no one really knows anything, but everyone is still worried.

I still remember the old Gorbushka, the place near the Gorbunov recreation center that had been there long before the shopping complex emerged, where even during the Soviet times people would sell tapes, discs (vinyl ones), and similar products. Audio-visual equipment was there, too, but not much of it, mainly just the carriers with records. This is where you could buy the so-called “zero copies” of movies - the recording quality for VHS fell with each re-write, it was nothing close to modern digital recordings.

Then this place was closed, and a huge shopping complex which was selling other household appliances was opened.

But the recurrent problems arise precisely because of the so-called “pirate” products. Sometimes products are confiscated, then the same products appear in the same place, and a new cycle begins.

Sellers (or more accurately, owners) hurt, of course, but the risk is incorporated in the price, and the price is still adequate.

Herein lies the unsolvable problem: few people will buy a licensed movie disk for 400 rubles ($13) (or even more expensive) if they can buy it for 150-200 rubles ($5-7). The price of blank discs at Gorbushka is ridiculously low.

The proponents of copyright have a very strange logic - they love to howl about lost profits.

What does a normal process of buying an information product looks like?

For example, I somehow decide that I need to evaluate a music album (through a recommendation, the new album by the famous artist, and so on). I am looking for it in mp3 format, try it out, and only then - if I like it – I buy a CD.

Or a book – I downloaded it from the Internet and read it. If it is a onetime read (sometimes all I need is to have a look at a quote) I delete it. If I like it very much I buy a hard copy. Sometimes I even buy books that I already have, in a better edition - say, a classic fantasy. Or, I buy a collection instead of disparate and often different-sized volumes.

What should this look like from the perspective of those who are against “piracy?”

I should go and immediately buy a CD or a book, without the opportunity to assess the quality of the product. Already looks strange, doesn’t it? Especially if you consider the price.

This strange logic goes on. It is postulated that if I downloaded a book/CD for free, it is “lost profit.” That is, all who have downloaded the book for free would for sure buy it at the price set by the publisher.

Nobody in their right mind can argue that when something is given away for free of sold for say, 500 rubles, then in both cases the number of disseminated copies will be the same.

Here strange things continue: very often the quality of pirate films is higher than that of the licensed ones. The digital image is the same (except for the copies that appear before the official release of DVDs), but “pirates” are so much more responsible when it comes to translation, subtitles, and so one. They have several translation options, dubbing, and different subtitles. Licensed movies often come with only Russian subtitles, which is impractical.

Why, one wonders, pay more?

But, if you think about it, the desire to save is not the most important factor. And not even the fact that not everyone has the physical ability to buy expensive products.

Let’s think for a minute. In supermarkets it is not too difficult to steal some small stuff, right? Put in your pocket unnoticed, that's all. But theft is not that frequent . On the contrary , it is condemned by nearly everyone.

It's very simple: if you look from a psychological point of view, shoplifting is theft, which society condemns. But the “piracy” is not perceived as theft by the society, since according to the traditional Russian ethics the deeds of violators of copyright are not even close to theft.

Sharing is not a bad, but a good deed.

John Doe buys a license, copies it, cuts out advertisement (which is often unavoidable in licensed copies), adds subtitles, another translation, and then uploads it for open access - this is not a thief, but a noble man, selflessly caring about others.

And if a film or a book is rare, and never had alicensed copy, the gratitude towards the “pirates” increases exponentially.

The ethics of a society is formed over the centuries, and it is very hard to change it.

Perhaps, these days someone brings up their children so that if Vasya wants to play with Peter’s car, then Peter should lease him the said car by the hour, but it is in the Russian tradition let him play for free.

The proponents of “copyright” (in quotes - because those rights do not belong to the authors, but to the copyright holders) in the vast majority of cases appeal only to the law, avoiding the discussion of ethical issues. But we know that not everything that is technically legal is necessarily fair.

Andrei Bortsov

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov