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Wired: Stealing Movies is OK.

Photo of Eric Kohn By Eric Kohn | Eric Kohn July 24, 2009 at 8:42AM

Wired: Stealing Movies is OK.

The current "New Rules for Digital Gentlemen" issue of Wired Magazine belongs to cover man Brad Pitt, of course, with his witty asides about technological etiquette. (On answering a cell during a movie: "It may be a brief interruption...but what if someone sitting next to you is trying to make a decent bootleg?")

To me, however, the best piece in the issue is Brian Raftery's chronicle of Dilbert creator Scott Adams as he sought to recover his missing voice. Fascinating stuff.

As for the "New Rules" section, the single item that caught my eye more than anything else was a brief explanation by Erin Biba explaining why it's acceptable to illegally download movies via BitTorrent. Here's an excerpt: don't have the DVD, the video stores are closed, and for some reason movie isn't available on Hulu, iTunes, or anywhere else online. It is OK to download it illegally? Yes. But there's a catch: There's only one way to morally and ethically justify breaking the law, and that's an act of protest. So downloading something that isn't available online has to be done as act of civil disobedience.

I don't get Showtime, but I love watching Weeds. So if I want to find a shifty method of catching last week's episode (which, by the way, was solid), do I have to put my love of Weeds aside and let activism lead the way? But...I love Weeds. What a strange, confusing and slightly contradictory situation.

In truth, I completely disagree with the angle in the article. We media folks shouldn't encourage piracy, no matter how one chooses to contextualize it. The act itself will apparently continue ad infinitum — and many of us are secretly complicit in this fact. But, to borrow a term recently applied by Barack Obama to describe the actions of a Cambridge police officer, openly endorsing it strikes me as kinda stupid.

This article is related to: Digital Distribution