Piracy presents content creators with a mind-twisting dilemma. No one wants to see the work they have to live off being copied for free, but in today’s age not being pirated is probably even worse. Being overlooked in this way generally means that the public is not interested in what you have to offer.
The situation gets even more complicated when one realizes that ‘pirates’ are often legitimate customers too. As previously highlighted, music pirates are the ones who spend the most money on legitimate music. In a way, speaking out against pirates is speaking out against one’s biggest fans.
So how does a content creator approach such a multi-layered species when he or she spots one in the wild?
If we look at Chris Baker, app developer and owner of the The Fucking Word of the Day website, confrontational politeness might turn out to be a good choice. Yesterday, Chris spotted a potential pirate on the xSellize forums, who posted the following request:
“Can someone please crack The F-ing Word of the Day app. Please.”
Although many content creators would have cringed upon reading the message, perhaps tempted to shout the pirate down, Chris opted for a more peaceful reply to the poster “HiDefinition”.
“Hello! I’m the creator of the *** Word of the Day website and more particularly the F-ing Word of the Day App. First of all, this is a huge compliment! As a person who pirates content, I’ve always placed the moment people are pirating MY goods as the exact time of my arrival, as it were.”
Chris Baker goes on to explain that, although he has a decent job in New York, he’s by no means rich. The app and website are his pet projects and he works on them during his free time in the hope that the public might learn something. Then he continues with giving the prospective pirate his virtual blessing.
“What’s my point in all this? Go ahead and pirate the app. It cost me 1500 bucks to have programmed. It’s not even a month’s rent for me. But if you think the site is cool, and you want to pay for one eighth of a Stella Artois for me, hook me up with 99 cents. The rapture will be here soon, I could use the drink.”
The above might not have been the response HiDefinition had been hoping for, but it did make an impact. Suddenly, the prospect of getting a pirated App without paying didn’t seem as appealing as it did before.
“Wow, I wasn’t expecting the developer to comment. Sorry, about that. You know I was only looking to get the IPA for free only because I have no credit, credit cards, or any kind of banking services. However, your attitude has seal[ed] the deal for me. It might end up costing me a couple extra dollars in nominal fees to figure out how to pay for it but I’d be glad to contribute towards that Stella fund raiser you’ve got going on.
“Besides, I really appreciate your response and I fully support your work. I hope no one actually cracks your app [and] for sake of respect, consider my request revoked. Thanks again Chris and have a good one bro!”
It appears that with his polite reply, Chris eliminated at least one potential pirate. But that wasn’t the end of the matter. Instead of eagerly waiting for HiDefinition’s 99 cents, Chris offered to buy the App for him, asking for a positive rating in return.
Chris then concluded:
“I hope this comment thread goes down as one of the more unexpected things that happens to you online. I like the unexpected. And I like making people happy, even when something stupid like learning vocabulary is involved.”
The thread is memorable for sure, and shows that the blazing guns strategy might not always be the best one, especially not for indie content creators. This doesn’t necessarily mean that ‘pirates’ should be cuddled, but it might be a good idea to try a more balanced response every now and then.
TorrentFreak got in touch with Chris, who shared his remarkable encounter on Reddit, and he told us that he expected people to pirate his app and that it’s not a problem.
“I knew people would try to pirate my app and I’d rather have people trying to pirate my app than not pirate it. If no one is trying to pirate you, you’re irrelevant,” Chris said.
In fact, Chris admits that he too has pirated software since he was eight or nine. Whether it is the moral thing to do is not up to the developers he believes, it’s something every ‘pirate’ has to decide for him or herself.
“The morality of pirating an app will be a topic that gets debated forever,” Chris told us. “If a starving kid steals a loaf of bread to feed himself, is that wrong? If a starving designer pirates a copy of a 700 dollar version of Photoshop, is that wrong?”
“A creative storyteller could produce narratives that make you see both sides to each story,” he concludes.