BBC News Article on Comic Piracy

I know the recent BBC article on comic piracy was intended to be helpful, but it skims so lightly along the subject that the whole thing becomes anecdotal. The fact that I’m “quoted” twice, but just from tweets not an actual conversation with me, makes it even more awkward.

I wasn’t going to say anything about it, but since it’s on the BBC site it’s hitting a more mainstream audience than usual and now I’m getting a swath of messages praising/punching me for it.

The anecdotal nature of the article really annoyed me, but I also realize that it strikes at the heart of why the piracy conversation always goes sideways so fast:

Anecdotes are all we have because the actual help/hindrance of digital piracy is nearly impossible to accurately measure.

There are stats of a sort (page views, torrents, downloads) but we have no way to measure how that translates to sales lost or visibility gained.

Some readers justify why they do it or explain how it helped them and then project that experience across the whole thing. Equally, creators see their own struggles and the shakiness of the system and project those losses on to the whole. Neither is accurate, but neither is completely wrong, either.

I’m not a fool. I don’t think every illegal download is a lost sale. I know it’s complicated and everyone can point to themselves or others as reasonable/justified/worthy customers who pirate stuff for the “right” reasons. The complexity destroys any reasonable discourse.

The fact that it’s digital and a whole other segment can get pedantic and explain that it’s not actually “theft” because it’s a just a copy and nothing was physically stolen muddies the whole thing even more.

Piracy is a diffused mess of disparate data injected with enough anecdotes and frustration that none of us has to change our opinion or behavior.

Everyone sees what they want to see and keeps on screaming.
Which is online discourse in a nutshell right now.

The easy play is to just smile and nod and pretend it’s all good.
“Fuck you, I got mine” feels very 2019-appropriate.

There isn’t much else to say that hasn’t already been said-
Be good to each other.
Be honest with yourself.
Support creative work the best you can.

Thanks for reading (my work, not the social media vortex).

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