Tuesday, 27 November 2007

I am an Island

or an odd duck, more likely the latter.

When hanging out with the neighbors, every once in a while, the conversation turn to movies. Invariably each neighbor starts to promote their "guy", a friend that rips every movie that comes out on DVD, burns his own copies and distributes to his friends. Everyone on the block has a "guy". Except me. Not because I don't know one, because I don't want one. Hell I could be one, I already know how. During these conversations I get really quiet (and if you know me well, you know how rarely that happens), just smile and nod and sip my beer. Other than myself, I know many guys that would qualify as a DVD burning "guy". I'm a techie, and I know a lot of techies.

My suddenly going quiet act also happens a lot when I'm in a group of techie peers. They all talk about what movies, songs, games they downloaded on BitTorrent or whatever the latest P2P software is. To be frank, this happens in almost any social situation I'm involved in. Someone is always willing to talk about the media their friends or kids downloaded and gave them.

I've come to the conclusion that I am the only person that does not illegally obtain copyrighted material. That's why I am an odd duck. If I like a movie enough, I buy it, I don't steal it. With music, I don't buy any at all, and I don't steal any at all. I find the cost of music way too high compare to the time available to listen to it. Even though I would like to posses certain songs, I'm not willing to resort to theft. I also do not steal video games. If I like one enough, I'll buy it.
(Full disclosure. I'm not that squeaky clean, I did participate in music downloading in the past and when I owned a Commodore 64 in the 80s I had thousands of games I didn't pay for. But I'm clean now. Call it a sign of my growing maturity.)

I am not a big fan of the mass media empires. I do find them restrictive, invasive, customer abusive mega-corps that have lost sight of the purpose of entertainment. Part of me thrills to the idea of taking these monsters down. I figure I'm doing my part by no longer participating in the music scene. The worst customer for them is one that refuses to use their product.

No matter how I used to justify it, I came to realize that theft is still theft. Two wrongs do not make a right. This revelation happened long before I became a parent. Which leads to a source of puzzlement for me. Those parents that steal DVDs, music, satellite signals, etc. how do they excuse those thefts to their children? What is the message, the lesson they are teaching? Its OK to steal from a large corporation? Its OK when you don't get caught? Its OK if it doesn't physically harm someone?

This is where I am at a loss. It isn't logical what everyone seems to be doing. No argument I've seen has convinced me otherwise.

Where I am also an odd duck is with cross-border shopping. For me, the savings don't really add up once gas, time, hotels, food and other expenses are factored in. I also am patriotic and believe in supporting my domestic retailers, (and manufacturers when possible). It is hard to bite my tongue when a person decries the loss of jobs in Waterloo Region (mostly manufacturing) and then hops across the border to spend their money in the US. Hypocrite, they name is the cross-border shopper.

As much as I disagree with it, I do understand the desire to seek the best deal. Where I know I'm at odds with damn near everyone else is when I do travel and purchase goods. I declare everything upon returning. I don't find it ethical to lie, to cheat the government of its due. I can hear you mutter WTF? as you read this. But that's me.

Again, for the parents that cross border shop with their kids, and lie their faces off with their kids full knowledge, what lessons are they imparting? Its OK to lie when its to the government, to authority? Its OK to lie if you can get away with it? Its OK to lie when you benefit personally?

I now give you my permission to inform me of my incomprehensible stupidity. How I am giving in to the man, greasing the grubby hands of our government. Whatever, you ain't gonna change my mind.


Ken Breadner said...

Nah, you're not stupid. Just disarmingly...ethical.
You do know that filesharing is technically legal in Canada? *smile*
Musically, many bands have adapted to the new media. I think it's only a maatter of time before it will be impossible to go and buy a CD in a bricks-and-mortar store.
I would rather compensate an artist for his/her work, given a choice. Unfortunately, some of the music I like is all but impossible to find in a traditional retail setting. iTunes has gone some way towards rectifying that...I don't often download anymore.
Movies--I'd rather buy. First, it would take hours and hours to download one flick over my DSL connection. Second, I want the package.
Cross-border shopping: it's all a matter of attitude. For me, the cheaper retail price is just one incentive, and not the biggest. The selection is much better in the U.S.; the quality is sometimes better too. There are foods you just can't get here.
And I'm not rich, so a trip to Frankenmuth or Erie would be my idea of a vacation (the shopping, in other words, would be almost incidental.)

Catelli said...

I've long said that I would probably be a lot happier and would have a lot more fun if I could kill that damn nagging conscience that just won't shut-up!


Ken Breadner said...

Oh, and also...I'm against duties. I figure, a, what's NAFTA for, anyway? and b, why am I paying what is in effect a Canadian tax on an American item? If I wanted to pay the Canadian price--which often seems to have that duty built in--I would have bought the item in Canada and paid the Canadian elevated price, plus PST, plus GST...