I live in Slovakia, a small country neighboring with Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine. Slovakia has been a full member of European Union since 2004 and entered Eurozone last year (i.e. we have had Euro as a currency here since January 2009). Nevertheless, I as a customer feel like living in a warzone with no rules, no solid currency, no nuffin’ for some internet companies.
I am keen on music, so I buy lots of music on the internet, either as CDs or sometimes as downloadable MP3s. I download music a lot from torrents, but when I really like something (listen to it more than twice or thrice), I buy it.
Lately, I have been buying some music from AmieStreet, an independent music shop that splits income fairly with the artists. I like browsing around in their catalogue trying to digg up some unknown music gold. You can listen to previews there for free and then just buy what you like. One day I encountered strange message shown in place of the Buy button when I wanted to buy some music: “N/A in your region”. Well, if they don’t want to sell the music to me and I don’t have other option to buy it, I will just download it as bad-bad pirate. AmieStreet supports music piracy by treating me as a second-class customer.
Amazon is another case of rotten meat. They will eagerly sell you CDs and books, but they say no to selling me MP3s. Altghough, MP3s are cheaper – you can buy just one song or whole album (still cheaper than a CD) and moreover, no shipping or duty is added to the final cost. But Amazon doesn’t treat me as a customer, they say:
We are sorry… We could not process your order. The sale of MP3 Downloads is currently available only to US customers located in the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.
Well you know what, Amazon? Fuck you with your US only policy! I am going to steal that music and download it anyway as a bad-bad pirate. Amazon supports music piracy by treating some people as second-class customers.
And now for the beloved or hated (choose your position) Google giant and their video website YouTube. Often, I find myself looking for the particular music video, but to my dismay, Google/YouTube says:
This video is not available in your country due to copyright restrictions.
Usually, you can find that video on the other websites, so you just go and look somewhere else. YouTube voluntary sends many visitors away to other websites by treating you as a second-class visitor. Alternatively, you can always find any music video downloadable as a torrent, anyway. YouTube supports music and movies piracy by not allowing you to stream the content online.
This could be an end of this post. It could have been. But the ugliest thing here is not Amazon, AmieStreet, YouTube or other stupid websites with similarly stupid anti-piracy policy, the ugliest fact is that some companies will treat you as a second-class users on the internet. They will deny you from voluntary spending money on things you want and instead force you to walk around shady corners looking for those things, so they can point on you screaming “Pirates!” later.
The attempts to close some parts of the internet for some parts of the world are just too damn sick. And next time you hear those crazy anti-piracy corporations screaming “all customers steal, give us our money!”, next time you read about other 13-years old kid being locked up in the prison for downloading few songs they like, next time some weirdos from Business Software Alliance talk about how 40+% of people are pirates (because they “forgot” about population using open source), ask them, why are you denied music you want to buy, why you have to pay 100 EUR (136 USD) for the software that costs 100 USD in the US (but is not sold for that price to Europeans), ask them why their crazy oligopoly policies take you as a hostage. Ask them that and refuse to talk to them since they are just plain old racketeers. Download, steal and share the torrents, until they finally get rational and behave as decent human beings do.
Update May 15, 2010: Peter Serafinowicz writes on “Why I Steal Movies… Even Ones I’m In” – similar reasons, downloads torrents, because copyrighted content is not available to UK.