Hello there good people of VGC, I'm here to... whoa, wait a sec− yikes! *takes cover*
(unfortunately, I'm actually alone here)
...ahem. Hello. Yeah, I know this is a touchy subject. 'Me defending actual crime' levels of touchy, and all. But as much as this might sound like nonsense, I ask you to take a step back, get off your high horses, and try to look at things in a different way.
First, let's be honest: you have already pirated something. A game? Possibly. A movie? Likely. A song? Most certainly.
We've all been there, and if you actually are that person who's never pirated a single thing, I'm inclined to believe you are very... privileged. Because ultimately, that's the point of piracy, isn't it? To experience content without paying for it, so you don't risk wasting your limited money on something you don't want, or sometimes, money you don't have in the first place.
I understand why piracy is seen so negatively, as a crime even, and how it's seen as detrimental to artists in general. Any form of art requires an amount of time, effort, and especially money, to be created - and like everyone else, these people need money to survive and keep doing what they love doing. It's how capitalism works, and when you pirate something, you're undoing the work of everyone behind a project... or are you?
Let's start with a little story here. The year is 2011. Little 15-year-old mZuzek had just gotten over his early teen days of rejecting Nintendo games, and was being brought back into them having recently beat his first Zelda game, A Link to the Past, on an emulator - he had the game on the SNES as a kid but never got to finish it before his brother exchanged the console for someone's GBC. Young mZuzek was then intrigued by the upcoming release of Pokémon Black & White, despite having heavily disliked what little time he had with Diamond & Pearl. He thought Black & White were going to suck even harder, but despite that, he was inexplicably hyped and, on the very day the games released in North America, he found a rom online to play it on an emulator. And while the game ran at 70% speed on his computer most of the time, mZuzek loved it! A few months later, having mostly gotten back into Pokémon full-time, he was getting into his second Zelda game, Ocarina of Time, and found out about a 3DS remake of it - on this day, he understood that the 3DS was a new console and not another iteration of the DS. Wanting to play the remade version of the game, as well as being able to enjoy Pokémon games at full speed and with all their features, young mZuzek decided he wanted to buy a 3DS (his first Nintendo console in over a decade!), and so he did.
Young mZuzek bought his 3DS in early 2012, and fully enjoyed his first year with the thing. He played many Zelda games in this time, all of them through illegal emulation, but more than anything he was really into Pokémon, and in early 2013, he was hyped over the moon with the announcement of Pokémon X & Y. This hype caused him to watch an E3 presentation for the first time, and as a result, he became very interested on the Wii U, a console he didn't give a flying fuck about previously. By the end of that year, he had gotten a Wii U as well.
The rest is history, really. Modern day mZuzek legally owns most Zelda games, including those he had previously played for free. He has three Nintendo consoles full of games obtained legally, and is constantly buying new software. He's probably spent thousands of dollars on these consoles! And he got into all of his favorite gaming franchises for free: Zelda, Pokémon and Star Fox through emulation; Metroid, through a Club Nintendo offer. He didn't spend money on these games at first, but once he became a fan, he started throwing money around everywhere.
Of course, that doesn't mean I would've never gotten back into Nintendo games if it weren't for piracy. Maybe it would've happened either way. But as they say, history isn't made of ifs, and history here is that piracy did bring me back into Nintendo and caused me to give them loads of money. Also of course, this doesn't necessarily apply to everyone out there. There are people who will pirate games all their life and never spend a penny on things. For these people, well... can you really do anything? Big companies these days go well out of their way to ensure insanely strong anti-piracy methods (that are usually more detrimental to legitimate users than they are to pirates, even), but the reality is that most pirates will simply not bother buying a game, and if they can't play it because of anti-piracy measures, then they're likely to just not bother in the first place.
And even then... they can be helpful. Because while pirates aren't giving money to the creators of that game, they are more than likely spreading word of mouth around, and bringing the knowledge of that game to more people. And if they're not, well, each of them still is one more person that's appreciating that game.
As an aspiring musician myself, I dream of a day when I'll be able to make a living out of my music alone, of course. Every artist dreams of that. But beyond the money, the one thing I truly want most, is for people to listen to my music and appreciate my work, and then it doesn't matter how much money they paid for it. I'm happy as long as they're enjoying something I've created. That's the true goal of an artist. Given this, I think it's no coincidence that so many indie developers out there don't bother with anti-piracy at all, or when they do, it's usually in the form of an explicit message to pirates that tells them like it is without stopping them from enjoying the game. It's because, as much as they need the money, ultimately, they just want their game to be played by as many people as possible.
There are many reasons why someone would pirate a work of art. It could be because they just don't have the money to buy it. It could be because they don't know whether they'll enjoy said content, and want to try it out first. It could be because, although they want to experience something, they don't think it's worth the asking price, or that the company behind it doesn't deserve their money. It could simply be because they're filthy pirates. But at the end of the day, one person pirating a product, for whatever reason it may be, is still one more person enjoying that product. And there's a lot of value in that.
...oof. Well, that's my take on it. I haven't read VGC rules in a long time, so if this is off-limits, then goodbye for a few days, I guess and I suppose that'd get this thread locked, too. But if that's not the case, I'd like to read more on this from you guys. We all know you've pirated something, some day, somewhere - let's be honest about it, and think about how it might have actually been a positive thing. This is in no way me trying to encourage people to pirate stuff - you really shouldn't be doing that if you can avoid it. I'm just saying that piracy, well, it's not always as bad as they say. There's always a positive side to everything, and all that stuff.