the pirate's life

Bootleg Windows install CD covered with Arabic text labelled Windows Islamic 2 Windows Halal

In pursuit of more faithfully living Catholicism, I was reading the YOUCAT the other day, and a passage from the section on the 7th commandment (Thou shalt not steal) stuck out to me:

The misappropriation of intellectual property is theft also. [2408-2409]

Not just PLAGIARISM is theft. The theft of intellectual property begins with copying other students’ work in school, continues in the illegal taking of materials from the Internet, applies to the making of unauthorized copies or trafficking in pirated copies in various media, and extends to business dealings in stolen concepts and ideas. Every acquisition of someone else’s intellectual property demands the free consent and appropriate remuneration of the author or inventor.

And then the realization hit me like a freight train - I’ve built my entire workflow of pirated media!

For laughs, I thought about the prospect of “going clean” so to speak, and reflexively repudiated the idea. Was I really going to act in the interest of greedy corporations who always screw over the author/artist? Would these (imaginary) lost profits actually dishearten the likes of Lars Ulrich trying to build a gold plated shark tank bar right next to his pool?

If you allow me the moral despooling, there are a few points of contention:

There’s a bit more that went into changing my mind, but that’s the bulk of it. Now, what does the action plan look like. Well, here’s a cool table!

Contraband Reconciliation Sacrifice Benefits Success Score
1800 MP3s of commercial music
  1. Clearing up any ambiguous titles with the magic of acoustic fingerprinting
  2. exporting master list
  3. deleting all MP3s
  4. slowly migrating playlists to YouTube
  5. returning to smartphone for on-the-go access
  6. upgrading my data plan
  • offline music
  • the convenience of a minimalist MP3 player
  • cheap dataless phone plan
  • automatic volume normalization (not having to adjust the volume between each song)
  • 14 GB more of disk space
  • the amenities of a smartphone (group texting, video calls, good camera)
4 PDFs of college textbooks
  1. borrowing a copy from the campus library
  2. buying the remaining ones used online with intent to sell them back and recoup some of the loss
  3. deleting PDFs
  • about $50
  • light backpack (I have to worry about packing the right books every morning)
  • instant searchability of text (no more Ctrl+F 😢)
  • remembering how easy and convenient libraries are
  • paying better attention to paper material versus on a screen
20 EPUBs of books I had already read or hoped to read soon
  1. exporting master list
  2. deleting all EPUBs still under copyright (a fair amount were actually Public Domain which is neat)
  3. borrowing one book at a time from the campus library
  • flexibility of switching between books on a whim
  • instant searchability (exact quotes for citations)
  • being able to read certain books flat out due to not being available at the library and being too recent to buy used at a good price
  • paying better attention (see above)
  • less options means more likelihood of finishing the current book
  • being able to make annotations to books I own
400 MKVs of anime
  1. exporting master list
  2. deleting all MKVs
  3. trying legal streaming sites and being turned off by the hardsubs
  4. finding the actually good streaming sites
  5. upgrading data plan to keep the anime bus tradition alive
  • offline viewing
  • $5 extra a month for data
  • creation of new passive immersion
  • HD quality
realizing that I had outgrown anime a long time ago and that it is no longer crucial for language gains 8/10
about 342 hours straight of anime dialogue
  1. trying to listen to series on YouTube with the screen off
  2. realizing that all the good storytelling series have been removed by the copyright keisatsu already
  3. assembling a giant list of internet radio streams
  4. filling in the gaps in data coverage and gaps in programming with podcasts
  5. deleting all the MP3s
  • offline access
  • engaging and nostalgic immersion with stories that have become emotionally meaningful to me (storytelling is the highest tier in language pedagogy)
  • learning the speech patterns of more extemporaneous, emotionally neutral dialogue between two decent members of society and not just some spiky-haired twink and his harem screaming autistically
  • realizing that I can actually hold my own in native content consumption (confidence boost)
7000 JPGs of downloaded memes, screenshots, artwork, wallpaper, etc.
  1. exporting master list of properly indexed memes
  2. deleting all the JPGs
  3. lurking 4chan’s wallpaper and photography board for original content to liven up my now dead desktop
  4. deleting all the memes I had used as blog entry pictures and replacing them with hotlinks as a temporary holdover while I learn how to harness a local instance of Stable Diffusion to generate copyright-free images at my whim (we live in great times!)
  • offline access
  • desktop slideshow of other people’s hard work (or blatant shitpost)
  • 5% or so of memes entirely due to vague or insufficient description or mere obscurity
  • easy ornamentation of my site
  • easy sharing with friends in the heat of conversation
  • 4 GB more of disk space
  • literally the first thread I encounter to replace this media is gorgeous vacation pics from Japan, so now my desktop is more in line with what I spend my time doing than it ever has been!
1 EXE of Sony Vegas Pro deleting the EXE (software is pretty cutthroat; either you have it or you don’t lol) logical, trained workflow in a competent NLE
  • any chance of making a YTP unless I pony up the $100 or so for a license
  • more strict adherence to only using free and open source software, getting really good at ffmpeg and scripting in lieu of a GUI 9/10
    200 PNGs of scanned church music
    1. sorting out what came from where (scans, online previews, legitimate purchases)
    2. transcribing chords and harmonies from digital copies to my hymnal
    3. deleting illegitimate copies
    4. continuing to repurpose tall, menacing stack of physical copies as printer paper
    • easy transposition of music (not having to erase chord symbols, play with a capo, or think of chord functions on the fly)
    • collaborating with other people with a click of a button through text or email
    • incurring little to no expense, or at least, not having it scale with amount of members, repertoire, or length of time together
    not many tangible ones for me, at least. Sure, I guess being a good role model counts. work in progress, but probably a 2/10

    A few recurring themes stick out.

    Taking a step back from this whole endeavor, I’ve become a lot more literate and respectful of copyright notices and licenses on small content creator’s pages. I now see the logical extension of the FLOSS mentality to intellectual property and have a reason to lobby for more reasonable copyright laws that can benefit the average Joe - a reason I wouldn’t have had if I had continued to hoard media thoughtlessly and indiscriminately.