Gimme the Loot: A History of Digital Piracy

What the history of digital piracy tells us about intellectual property, copyright law, and the digital pirates of today.


| January/February 2013



Pirate Ship

Piracy, the appropriation of private property in the form of copyright infringement, threatens this economy, just as Atlantic pirates threatened slave-capitalism in the early 18th century.

Illustration By Monkeyblue

In an honest service there is thin commons, low wages, and hard labor; in [piracy], plenty and satiety, pleasure and ease, liberty and power; and who would not balance creditor on this side, when all the hazard that is run for it, at worst, is only a sour look or two at choking. 
—Pirate captain Black Bart Roberts, circa 1720

Just pirate it. 
—Game designer Notch’s advice to Minecraft fans who can’t afford the full version, 2012

 

Once the heroes of nations, pirates went from being state-sponsored champions to tolerated annoyances to the basest sort of criminals. Henry Morgan was knighted after plundering Panama in 1674. Fifty years later hundreds of pirates were dangling from the gibbet at remote trading posts along Africa’s Gold Coast.

What changed?

The change wasn’t so much what pirates did as the context in which they found themselves: a global market economy with England at its head. England went from a plucky backwater to a capitalist empire in a century, and as its fortunes changed—or more specifically, as the way it made its fortunes changed—so, too, did the way the state treated piracy.

rafael
5/10/2014 6:01:38 AM

The history is full of evidences and instances when the digital piracy have taken place. We should understand the fact that how much effort one putts to create stuff like http://popnoggins.com/products/bobblenoggins/ and once they are done the others just copy the concept which is not good not good at all. We should respect the authority of the creator.