Digital Piracy Is Evil

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Only the RIAA total surveillance can stop this totalitarian horror!

But deep in your heart, you know the guilt would drive you mad
 And the shame would leave a permanent scar
 Cause you start out stealing songs and then you're robbing liquor stores
 
And sellin' crack and runnin' over school kids with your car!

If you're watching television, it doesn't matter if the characters are drug-smuggling, whore-mongering, granny-beating, world-destroying murderers: the illegal downloading of movies and music is guaranteed to morally offend them. Any good character who doesn't fall in with this philosophy will learn his lesson by the end of the episode. Expect physical theft to be used as a comparison and/or a plot point. That said, both sides of the debate are rife with inaccuracies and strawman statements. There are much more nuances to the matter and to the sides than often given credit for.

Most videos these days have the now-standard Interpol Notice, many DVD's also include a PSA in the beginning about how piracy is wrong. In the most extreme cases, this segment can't be skipped...sometimes the disc can't even be stopped while it's playing. Ironically, the person who's logically most likely to see it is someone who legally paid to own a copy.

Keep Circulating the Tapes and Abandonware are related concepts. However, in regards to this trope, they are usually ignored. This is because companies that are the victims of such types of piracy often give subtle glances that they don't particularly care, or may even actively encourage it. Information Wants to Be Free, on the other hand, will usually pose a clear danger and demand swift action. Not that it will help much. Not to mention, people typically don't complain about Keep Circulating the Tapes and Abandonware anyways, since it's not exactly hurting any business if the market's nonexistent in the first place. One exception is a publisher who believes that copies of its older works would compete with copies of the latest and greatest work that it is trying to promote, such as Disney's "vault" practice.

See also New Media Are Evil, Even Evil Has Standards, What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?, Copy Protection. See Digital Distribution for a form of media which can be tarred with the same brush. Similar arguments are occasionally made against Fanfic by authors, complete with the analogy to stealing cars. Also, see Internet Counterattack for one example of what happens when the pirates throw tantrums, as well as Flame War for what happens when pirates and anti-pirates collide online.

For the polar opposite, see Digital Piracy Is Okay.

Examples of Digital Piracy Is Evil include:

Commercials[edit | hide | hide all]

  • "Piracy: It's A Crime" commercials. Typically these are fairly easy to swallow, as far as a moral lesson.
    • On the other hand, the same commercials put it this way: "Buying Pirated Films is Stealing." This on the other hand doesn't hold the same moral weight. Buying anything is usually not considered stealing, but also if the pirated goods look authentic, you are (far from a thief) a dupe in someone else's piracy. The fault of piracy lies in the those who actually perpetrate it, not third parties, making this very shaky reasoning.
      • To be fair, knowingly purchasing stolen goods is a crime in most conventional Western legal systems. The key word, of course, is 'knowingly'.
      • Ironically, in these commercials on Youtube, the caption says:

"I am illegally distributing this anti-piracy commercial. Normally, you would have to buy a DVD or pay admission to a movie theater in order to see this (you rotten thief, you), but here you can watch it for FREE. You're welcome."

    • Even more ironically, this very commercial was sued for using unpermitted music from Dutch composer Melchior Rietveldt.
  • Interestingly, in China, they have propaganda commercials where steamrollers are crushing pirated goods, despite the fact that piracy is done not only on streets and some stores, but some goods are actually shipped to America. In a news special, they showed some knockoff brands like Time detergent (instead of Tide).
  • One infamous advert on old FOX VHS tapes proclaimed, without a shred of irony, that video piracy funds international terrorism. Yes, that's right. If you bought a pirate video, then the Twin Towers was your fault.
  • Beware of Illegal Videocassettes and Pirate Videos, Daylight Robbery are just a few examples of these ads in the UK, along with the above example. The "piracy funds terrorism" ad appeared on VHS tapes from other companies, such as the UK release of Disney's Snow Dogs.
  • Jackie (Chan) and I are on a mission to stop piracy.
  • Here's another one from the UK, about a girl named Rebecca who watches a pirated video, but as facts about piracy are displayed, the video becomes a violent movie.
  • Here's a funny software Anti-Piracy ad featuring Mario!
    • A comment on YouTube about this video makes fun of what you can do in the "pirated version" of the Mario game.

So in the pirated version there's better jumping, more realistic graphics, more realistic physics, a new enemy that looks like a baby and you can get to Bowser in around 20 secs? PIRACY IS AWESOME!!!

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Parodied in a live-action promo for the English release of Haruhi Suzumiya: Haruhi tells the viewers that downloading fansubs via BitTorrent is bad (especially odd considering Haruhi's usual attitude towards rules), immediately followed by a flashing sign saying "THIS EPISODE NOW AVAILABLE VIA BITTORRENT". At the end of this and all the other promos, the credits take a more reasonable stance: thanking fansub watchers that buy the DVDs after they come out and condemning those that do not.
  • The North American DVDs of Full Metal Panic! have the American voice actors threaten those who pirate with in-character dialog. Teletha promises to "Send a cruise missile down your chimney." The version read by Gauron has the same attitude as a Mafia heavy leaning on someone. The Japanese release had these as well, and they are included in the extras.
  • In the DVD version of Excel Saga the FBI Warning at the beginning is parodied with a warning from ACROSS and threatens pirates with a punishment involving tar-and-feathering and a depraved walrus. This warning had its formatting altered for its release in other regions to make it resemble the warnings found on DVDs in those regions as well.
  • The American release of the Chobits manga clothes its end-of-volume teasers as conversations between characters in the story, and in one makes sure to take a dig at "fan-scans". "No, I bought that book you mentioned and didn't click your immoral internet link..."
  • In the last episode of Battle Programmer Shirase, the narrator thanks the viewers of Japan and the viewers overseas who were illegally downloading the show.
  • In episode four of Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel, a group of small time thugs that got away from the titular magical girls team up. They include a costume fetishist, a burglar, a marriage swindler, and an uploader of illegal videos, presented as a fat Otaku. The Angels consider him as bad as the other three.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • At the start of one issue of Ellis' Nextwave, there's a somewhat tongue-in-cheek bit which says "You have just bought a copy of NEXTWAVE (unless you stole it off the internet)"
  • In PS238, Zodon makes passing reference to Herschel possessing illegal MP3s, dubbing him a "Relativist" after he's forced to move cables used for sharing said MP3s as punishment for inside-trading of stocks.
  • The Swedish version of the Donald Duck magazine ran a strip in which Donald Duck starts a pirated CD business. He then is threatened with being sued by his uncle Scrooge, who (of course!) owns the record company, and ends up on his knees begging for forgiveness. Interestingly enough, the same story has Huey, Dewey and Louie download a song illegally and get away scot-free... then again, they're only downloading it to "sample" the CD and at the end of the story have bought it. And of course, unlike Donald, they're not actually burning and trying to sell pirated CDs.
  • Played for laughs in an issue of Spider-Man Unlimited. A former supervillain thinks that as part of Heel Face Turn he must "to make amends" by helping Spidey fight crime. Spider-Man decides to find some small-time heist the guy can help him stop.

Spider-Man: There's got to be someone illegally downloading music around here.

  • In the Darkwing Duck comic, Honker is arrested for downloading music, though the event is treated as a part of St. Canard's slide into an over-litigious laws-enforced-by-robots dystopia.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Both played straight and parodied in the intro for the Film Cow Master Collection DVD (from the guy who did Charlie the Unicorn). Disguised as an unskippable video on why piracy is wrong, it's actually non-sensical (and entirely skippable).

"You wouldn't steal a giraffe, neh?"

  • In the Dante's Inferno puppet movie, there is a scene in which a Judge in Hell is sentencing sinners to their respective places in Hell. The first soul that comes up says he is there for downloading Metallica. The Judge sentences him to circle 7, level 1 of Hell for that.
  • One of the sketches in Amazon Women on the Moon is "Video Pirates": a stereotypical pirate ship captures a prize and in the captain's cabin discovers a treasure... of videotapes. They throw one in the VCR and see the standard FBI warning, causing the captain to go "Oooo, I'm so scared!" and the crew to break into hysterical laughter.
  • In Gym Teacher: The Movie, a teacher tries to get rid of a troublesome student by planting enough pirated DVDs in his locker -- "to prove intent to sell".
  • A bit of a twist on the Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog DVD: the FBI warning changes to reveal a warning from the Evil League of Evil itself, only allowing evil use of the DVD.
  • Given a wink in Transformers. "I may have downloaded a couple thousand songs off the internet, but who hasn't?"
  • In Hard Candy, Jeff Kohlver offers to send a bootleg MP3 (from the Goldfrapp concert he claims to have seen) to Hayley, after meeting her in a coffee shop:

Hayley: You have the concert?!
Jeff: Just one song. And a little louder, please, so the authorities know!

  • They're putting these warnings on porn DVDs, of all places.
    • Porn producers have an advantage in that some of their material can embarrass even the most brazen pirate. Some companies concentrate their copyright-infringement efforts on their kinkiest products in order to maximize the potential embarrassment of fighting them in court.
  • Pre-internet example: In Night of the Comet, the biggest Jerkass is a movie-theater manager who covertly loans movie reels to an accomplice overnight so they can be copied, then sells the bootlegs. He becomes an Asshole Victim pretty quickly.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Inverted in Born To Run by Mercedes Lackey, in which the villains are particularly proud of the unbreakable[1] Copy Protection on their torture, paedophilia and snuff videos.
  • Peter F. Hamilton's Misspent Youth features some rather ham-handed antipiracy propaganda, assuming a future where the authorities stopped caring about copyright in 2010, at which point all art turned to crap. We see later in the Commonwealth Saga that the world has evolved into an almost-utopia nonetheless (which, this being Hamilton, doesn't last) leaving us confused as to Hamilton's actual message. Especially as fans, and Hamilton himself, consider Misspent Youth one of his weaker works.
    • It is likely that instead of trying to convey a message Hamilton was simply trying to extrapolate what he thought was likely to happen to media from technological trends. This is how he comes up with most of the social and technological developments in his books.
  • In one of the In Name Only Tom Clancy series (probably Net Force), they stop the action so that two characters can debate digital piracy. However, since the Anti-Piracy advocate is the dashing latern-jawed hero, and the Pro-Piracy advocate is his 15 year old son, we are invited to shake our heads at the kid's "naive" arguments.
  • Played all the way to its most horrible conclusion, in "Noir" by K.W. Jeter - which tells of a world in which (besides other implications of a society where free market capitalism holds absolute sway) there are police forces that hunt down copyright pirates, one memorable punishment for said pirates is having their spine & brain extracted from their bodies, then transformed into high-fidelity audio cables, in which the pirate/victim still lives, being tortured by every note/sound that passes through, essentially, their nerve system.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice, Gerald (Jerry) Farnsworth makes it a point to ask his daughter if she legally paid for a pornographic hologram. After finding out that, yes, of course she did (because she is a "good girl"), he mentions that he happens to already own a copy which could have borrowed from him.
  • Steal This Book advocates rebelling against authority in all forms, governmental and corporate. See the Other Wiki.
  • Hyperion by Dan Simmons has the poet Martin Silenus thrust into massive debt when his second book bombs horribly. It's actually quite popular amongst the AI, but only one of them actually bought a copy; that AI then transmitted the contents to every other AI in existence. "Interstellar copyright doesn't mean shit when you're dealing with silicon."
  • One story from the collection All Hell Breaking Loose featured a recording executive making a deal with the devil that allowed Satan to steal the souls of anyone who illegally downloaded music.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

"You wouldn't shoot a policeman... and then steal his helmet. You wouldn't go to the toilet in his helmet. And then send it to the policeman's grieving widow...and then steal it AGAIN!"

  • An episode of the family sitcom series Smart Guy started out with this Aesop with the main character buying pirated games from a person he met online. Said character immediately jumps off the slippery slope by revealing he only pirates games so he can seduce little boys. The moral? Either "People who pirate software are pedophiles" or perhaps "if you pirate software, a 30-year old man will try to rape you."
  • One might think this is an entirely modern trope, but one episode of What's Happening shows concert bootleggers (Way back before the music industry tried to conflate copyright infringement with privateering, they used to try to conflate it with alcohol smuggling) as a gang of murderous thugs.
  • An ad campaign in the UK called "Knock-Off Nigel" is being used in an attempt to actually create and promote a stigma to buying pirate DVDs and downloading movies. The titular Nigel is accosted in one advert by a singing old man who talks about his "shady" dealings, prompting the entire pub he is in to start singing along. The second advert involves the same thing, except he's now in an office and his workmates are doing it instead. The ad campaign tries to put across the idea that people who download or pirate films steal from their grandmother's purse and give their girlfriends gifts they find lying on the street. These ads wind up making Nigel Unintentionally Sympathetic, since it simply appears that he's getting assaulted by these irritating, high-and-mighty gits.
  • The Daily Show has Jon Stewart advertise his show's full availability on Comedy Central's own website moments after referencing the Viacom lawsuit against YouTube, while The Colbert Report ends some episodes with an advertisement to "watch every clip ever!" online.
  • iCarly: Carly and her friends don't seem to have a problem with it but they use anti-piracy laws to get one of their Sadist Teachers arrested.
  • The Young Ones used this trope in regards to TV license evasion, by having Vyvyan eat the evidence.
  • Presented with a patient who has shoved an mp3 player up his ass, House plays this for humor when he passes the dirty work on to Dr. Cuddy—along with the message that the RIAA wants her to check for illegal downloads.
  • Leverage: Hardison mentions having to route through three different satellites to get a decent signal and download the latest Doctor Who torrent—Parker turns on a lighter and says: "Hey... Illegal downloading is wrong!" Then she sets fire to a wastebasket inside a small van. This is especially ironic because Parker is not only a professional thief but also struggles with kleptomania.
  • On Thirty Rock, Liz listed the things "I don't do", which included "I don't download music without paying for it".
  • Was inverted in an episode of Law and Order when some criminals captured someone who sold illegal DVDs. They made the man stand on top of a stack of the pirated DVDs with a noose around his neck, and alternated pulling them out from under his feet until he strangled.
  • When stealing files from a villain in Burn Notice Michael Weston's scene narration explains the easiest way to get files out of a guarded building is to put them on the internet via a free filehost. The downside being the files would be accessible to anyone online, but most of them don't care as they're only on it looking for the latest music CD making this a pretty safe way to go about it. It's hard to tell if this is for or against file sharing, but given how many other blatantly illegal things Michael does...
  • An episode of Seinfeld had Kramer convince Jerry to get an illegal cable hookup. Jerry subsequently has a dream where he's busted, and is shot hundreds of times while trying to make a run for it, dying in Kramer's arms.
  • In a season of Ghostwriter, the villain turns out to be a VHS tape pirate.

Music[edit | hide]

  • Marvelously showcased by Bow Wow Wow in their 1980 single C30 C60 C90 Go.
  • The Mastodon song that played at the beginning of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters was a Refuge in Audacity parody of this: "If I see you videotaping this movie, Satan will rain down your throat with hot acid and dissolve your testicles and turn your guts into snakes! This is a copyrighted movie for Time Warner. If I find that you've sold it on eBay, I will break into your house and tear your wife IN HALF!!!!"
  • Parodied in Weird Al Yankovic's "Don't Download This Song". Which he made available for downloading for free off his Myspace page several weeks before the album came out, thus ensuring the only way to hear it initially was to download the song. The video which accompanies it is absolutely not to be missed... but how does one go about finding and watching a 12-year-old music video?
    • Amusingly, the version that's on MTV's music video site is actually edited to censor the names of the filesharing programs Al mentions in the song; the logic behind this was that if the video was to air on their network, MTV wouldn't want to be party to encouraging filesharing. (The video never aired on television, though—at least not on MTV.)
    • More amusingly, that youtube video is not available in the UK... due to copyright reasons.
  • Comedy writer and actor Adam Buxton created a song, using bits of music from a bombastic piracy ad (the same one parodied in the above The IT Crowd example) that depicts "the mind of a pirate", who makes ridiculously evil statements about buying knock-off DVDs and downloading music. Interludes in the music involve Take That after Take That aimed at the entertainment industry and "artists" who are only interested in making music and movies for money.
  • After an unfinished form of one of System of a Down's albums was leaked under the name Toxicity II, they changed the name to Steal This Album, and changed the art to look like it was a burned CD with the title hastily written in sharpie. It might also be a reference to the aforementioned Steal This Book. They've since said they don't care if fans pirate their music as long as it's the finished versions making the rounds. They were kind of pissed about the leak of the unfinished demos, however.
  • Parodied by The Lancashire Hotpots in "Deirdre".
  • Current 93 played this trope totally straight when they sent out promos of their latest album to reviewers, with an added notice at the beginning spoken by a little girl: "This is a promotional CD. Anyone illegally selling, copying, uploading or downloading this material is condemned to eternal hellfire. Happy listening, God is love." It was creepy enough to make some people think twice about ripping the promos and putting them up for download before the album came out. From that same article:

"Illegal downloads are making it unfeasible for bands like Current 93, who put out their own material, to continue. One loses a little of your soul when you exploit someone in that way. Once your soul has gone, you are in hell."

  • Sabaton's Art of War album includes a bonus track called "A Secret", which is broadly interpreted as a joke directed at music pirates.
  • Princess F - "Internet Kills The Eurobeat Stars", on Super Eurobeat vol 202.
  • The original warning on My Chemical Romance's "I Brought You My Bullets..." threatened to have Gerard come to your house and suck your blood for making illegal copies of the album. Which is not exactly a deterrent for some...
    • Eyeball Records re-released the album a few years later, with a less exciting warning.
  • A Take That: Doc (Finland) released a single "Pirate Bay" containing samples cut from audio material from the Pirate Bay trial, with a comment: "for years Pirate Bay has served netlabel Musictrade as a great global distribution platform" (he's on Musictrade). Now with video. Also releasing it on torrents, of course.
  • Noel Gallagher hasn't expressed much criticism on piracy, but after Oasis' Heathen Chemistry was leaked, he introduced a song with "off our new album, you thieving bastards". Proving his point right, the audience sung along to all the new songs (making him say at the end of the concert "thank you all for coming, and for stealing the fucking album").
  • And of course done in true tongue-in-cheek gangsta style by Ice T :

Chillin' in my crib cold VCR dubbin'
FBI warnin'? Huh, don't mean nothin.

  • Camper Van Beethoven's David Lowery has come out pretty strongly against digital piracy (see blog posts here and here). That said, his position is a bit more nuanced than that, and chiefly applies to the unauthorized sharing of commercially released material - Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker both have open taping policies for their shows, and he's included mp3s of studio outtakes and album versions of songs alike on his own 300 Songs Blog.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • In a Yenny story arc, the title character goes to see the first Transformers movie at a theater, but her lizard, Zacha, takes a camera with her to record the movie off the screen and sell pirated DVDs of it, much to Yenny's annoyance.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Tales of series has recently started adding anti-piracy messages to the start of their games; when the game is booted up, a character will come on screen and talk about they're relying on the player to keep the industry alive, et al.
  • Ultima VII Part Two has, in addition to several of the regular kind, a nefarious Software Pirate.
  • SNK made a knowing wink to their own piracy problems (from Chinese bootleggers, primarily) in Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, where the evil organization hosting the tournament is called WAREZ.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 has a rather hilarious and mean one, if the game detects it's been pirated, then, no matter what, a few seconds after starting any map, your units, buildings and everything will EXPLODE. Resulting in an instant loss.
  • Parodied in Iji where the Komoto Imperial Weapons Industry claim that pirating weapons by combining two other nanotechnology weapons through cracking instead of paying their exorbitant prices is akin to high treason.
    • Three crackers find ways to circumvent weaponry DRM, and have the bright idea of publishing them. Guess what happens when the crazy alien with a stolen nanogun finds them?
    • Taking into note that they were cracking down on the crackers before the events of Iji, where the crazy alien with the stolen nanogun wasn't an issue so much. Furthermore, KIWI's prices for the cracked weapons were ridiculous; in one example, it'd be some 32 times cheaper to buy the two weapons needed as components and crack them than bying it from KIWI.
  • Oddly subverted in the Scholastic Microzine video game Pirates of the Soft Seas. The player is welcomed into a software pirate crew and seeks to help them steal video games. What's really strange is that this involves physically stealing computer discs, which would typically be considered a much worse crime.
  • Spyro: Year of the Dragon, if you are playing a cracked copy, has Zoe the Fairy appearing at the latter part of Sunrise Spring telling you that your copy is hacked and may be an illegal copy, which will lead you to experience "problems" you would not experience on a legal copy.
    • And as a Shout-Out to EarthBound, the game recreates the "save file erasure" thing from said game, although in a more subtle manner: instead of just taking you back to an empty "select your save file" screen, it just stops the boss battle against the Sorceress and then a travel-between-worlds Saving-Loading Screen appears, and after it, you return back to the Sunrise Spring Home with your hot air balloon, with the only difference that your save file has been written with a new status - namely, a fat zero over everything you can collect. To sum it up, instead of erasing your save file, the game resets it back to the beginning. It counts as a Shout-Out as both cases of Copy Protection interrupt the Final Boss. You can see it here.
  • In the DOS days, id Software used to have some very creative anti-piracy messages on their exit screens. For Doom, the message read like this:

"If you haven't paid for DOOM, you are playing illegally. That means you owe us money. Of course, a guy like you probably owes a lot of people money -- your friends, maybe even your parents. Stop being a freeloader and register DOOM. Call us now at 1-800-IDGAMES. We can help!"

  • In Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, the main character encounters a seer early in the game and can ask her questions, which she answers vaguely and cryptically. But if asked "Will I win in the end" she replies something along the lines of "It doesn't matter if you win or lose the game, the important thing is if you've bought it."
  • Neptunia has Nintendo DS flashcarts (and Custom Firmware) as the Big Bad.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, you can try and convince demons to join your party if they like you enough. They randomly ask what your hi-tech helmet does, and one of the possible answers is that it plays ROMs easily. The Demon's answer? "Ultimate sin! You are worse than a demon!".
  • Not so much evil, but in No More Heroes, Diane from Beef Head Video Store calls Travis at the beginning of every new assassination chapter to remind him to return one of the various pornos he rented. In one call, she kindly tells Travis that one of the videos he returned to the store was a copy of one of their videos (he kept the real one). The recording ends a short while into the video. Diane asks Travis to please return the original copy.
  • The cells in the police station in Police Quest I hold a great big Scary Black Man. His crime? Video game piracy, naturally.
  • Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games features a mission where you raid a shack of armed software pirates, recovering the master CD of the game you are playing.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • This strip of xkcd explains how even if you do buy online music legally, you could still end up as much of a criminal as someone who pirated their music, thanks to the DMCA.
    • The information in that strip regarding iTunes having DRM protection on its songs is outdated, as acknowledged by a later strip.
      • Only because DRM-free music is the norm. The original strip still applies to music that does have DRM, and perhaps more importantly, to most computer games and other software on the market today.
  • In Yamara, Glathheld claimed skull as his trademark and made people pay for 'lease' -- when he could. Since he forgot about another entity with the right of prior use (Not the Taxes.), Hilarity Ensues shortly afterward.
  • Slackerz parodied the "Don't copy that floppy!" ad to show us that when you copy a game, you destroy the universe.
  • Justified in Mac Hall. A three strip arc, which points out that while anti-piracy measures may be inconvenient, all the blather pirates throw around doesn't change the fact that they'll pirate from anyone, bad DRM or not. The strip was done in 2002, and still remains relevant.
  • One arc of Help Desk followed a deal between the RIAA and Ubersoft, wherein pirates could confess their crimes and gain absolution in exchange for giving Ubersoft their personal data. And then one caller confesses to raiding ships. And then Ubersoft and the RIAA get sued by the seafaring Pirate's Union for "violating their trademark and diluting the strength of their product line".
  • Captain Broadband exists solely to promote digital piracy, and comes off as a raving lunatic masquerading as a super hero. His usual adventures revolve round improving the flow of broadband (usually to download torrents), getting angry at Internet Service Providers over the phone, and infuencing innocent children to get their video games over the internet rather than through legitamate retail stores.
  • Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger had an interplanetary Mega Corp that owned all copyrights up to brain-stripping elderly scientists and artists, at which point an alliance led by Empire of the Seven Systems declared war on them and shot their CEO out of a railgun at the moon. The name of that corporation, the R.I.A.A. (though note that it might be the RIAA; Earth is implied to be part of the Empire).
  • Antihero for Hire mused on suddenly being strafed with mini-nuclear explosions:

Shadehawk: You returned that movie we rented, right?
Wrench: Rrright... rented. That's how I got that movie.
Shadehawk: Well, it's not MPAA: they can't fly.

Web Media[edit | hide]

  • This fan-made parody using One Piece.
  • Parodied in a recent viral video by Kid Rock, where he not only states that he's alright with fans downloading his music, but urges them to steal anything they want so as to "level the playing field".
  • As one might expect given the nature of the series, this LG 15 The Resistance promo vid averts this.
  • Remember those D&D scare comics? They're trying to do it again.
    • Oddly enough, the comic has a B-plot about the main character's grandmother trying to fight the city's using eminent domain to evict her from her house, albeit with (in her view, inadequate) compensation- the city technically wins but can't pay the revised total. It's apparently supposed to be analogous to the downloading story, possibly in applying moral equivalence between what the sympathetically portrayed homeowners are doing and the record companies, but it ends up not making much sense in context because of the dissimilar situations.
  • Parodied by For Tax Reason's Digital Pirates of Dark Water.
  • Dorm of the Undead, a new feature on Take180.com, has a guy download a movie illegally. The movie file contains a virus. The virus turns him into a ZOMBIE. And it's all brought to you by Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Which explains why the "About the Show" page begins with quotes like

Downloading fake movies may infect your computer with viruses that can be transmitted while you're downloading. Not only do you risk crashing your computer, but you also risk acquiring malicious spyware which will steal your personal information.

  • Lazlow of GTA Radio fame hosts an satellite radio show periodically, of which he gives away the most recent episode, but sells the back catalog as a box set online. Upon learning that the entire box set was being passed around on torrents, he wrote an angry article and ranted about it during the following show.
  • I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC addresses this in "Public Service Announcement", where the casts of Watchmen and X-Men encourage viewers not to pirate X-Men Origins, on the grounds that 1. It hurts the ordinary people who work in the entertainment industry well before it does anything to the big, fat, well-publicized millionaires, and 2. In the meantime, the sales lost on Wolverine will give the edge to a bad chick flick.

Dr. Manhattan: Leaks like this affect not just the highly-paid stars and producers...
Sabertooth: ...but also thousands of working-class people, just trying to make an honest living.
Rorschach: Not only that, but if too many watch this movie illegally, you know who wins?
Cyclops: Matthew McConaughey.
Night Owl: By illegally downloading this film, you'll be helping Ghosts of Girlfriends Past become the #1 movie in America.
Wolverine: You sure you want that on your conscience?


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Futurama, "I Dated a Robot": Those who facilitate illegal downloads will also unleash killer Lucy Liu-bots to protect their sinister racket. Of course, in this case what's being downloaded illegally is personality imprints painfully derived from heads-in-jars being held prisoner for the purpose. Slightly different from a normal recording. Downloaded from Kidnappster.com!
    • In a bit of a more old-fashioned version of this trope, in "Hell is Other Robots", one of the sins Bender is being punished for in Robot Hell is selling bootlegs. Note that cheating others and forging IOUs (both forms of stealing) is level two of Hell whereas piracy (another form of stealing) is level five. And, to add salt to the wound, he's punished by the artists he bootlegged in the first place: the Beastie Boys.
    • Spoofed with the Downloading Often Is Terrible extra on the Bender's Game DVD, which parodies that "You wouldn't do crime X" ad by having Bender reply that he would do those things.

Announcer: My God, is there anything you won't steal?
Bender: A beating human heart! That's where I draw the line.
Announcer: (desperately) Then don't download movies illegally! It's exactly like ripping out a human heart!
Bender: Oh wait! Now that you mention it, I yanked out a guy's heart this morning. (holds up the dripping heart)
Announcer: Augh! I give up! (beat) Hey, where's my wallet?!?

    • Also, "A Clone of My Own" features the opening subtitle, "Coming Soon To An Illegal DVD".
  • After Granddad forced Jasmine to accompany him and the boys while they sneak into the movies on The Boondocks, an ad that played before the movie compared digital piracy (and "stealing movies") to murder and featured a movie stuntman who said that it hurts when someone "steals all that work". Jasmine started crying, said "I'm sorry, Mr. Stuntman," and wanted to turn herself in to her father, the assistant district attorney. The actual episode ends with Huey saying they should have just downloaded the movie off the internet instead of sneaking into the theater.
    • In another episode, Jasmine's dad Tom condemned his wife for downloading music not for any moral reason, but out of an irrational fear of being caught and sent to prison (and then being anally raped).
  • The South Park parody has the kids download music from the Internet, but their house is then stormed by FBI agents as if Osama bin Laden were hiding in their basement. Afterward, the lead FBI agent takes them around the houses of various musicians who, as a result of illegal downloading, are now forced to buy slightly less glamourous private jets (ones without a remote control for the surround sound plasma screen TV and DVD entertainment system), as if it were a Christmas episode and the villain was being shown all the orphanages that were suffering as a result of his stinginess.
  • That really weird Anvilicious episode of The Proud Family. Penny meets a mysterious, The Matrix-like stranger who turns her ridiculously old computer that can only play Pong into some kind of super computer by... moving some stuff around. Yeah. Then he shows her THE INTERNET and the magical stash of evil illegal music it contains. Soon, the whole world knows about it and the music companies don't make any money anymore. It also compared downloading music to using drugs. Then, the police surround her house and they show a musician who has actually gone broke because of piracy. Penny tells the Matrix-kid to bugger off and then this makes everything all right. The episode ends with no conclusion other than Penny putting on a pair of sunglasses and flying out the window. This episode can perhaps be described like the South Park example listed above, except played completely straight.
    • You get the feeling the writers were forced to make the episode since A.) Disney makes a crap ton of money on tween singers and B.) fans of tween music probably watch 'hip' shows like The Proud Family.
    • Straw Man Has a Point - it does show that piracy can effect stores too. This is how they make their money after all.
  • The Couch Gag from The Simpsons Movie, where Bart was writing on the blackboard "I will not illegally download this movie". Though it's less of a condemnation and more of an utterly hilarious in-joke if you just illegally downloaded the movie.
    • Not exactly digital piracy in the sense of downloading movies/music, but when Homer got stolen cable (cable, now, being digital for many North Americans, though arguably not at the time), this trope is played remarkably straight. Even the guy who hooks up the cable is later shown to be stealing car stereos and breaking into houses. Homer, who's shown to have stolen from Moe's and work and is an unabashed alcoholic and Jerkass, comes to view this as a kind of evil even he can't support.
  • Parodied in one episode of Kappa Mikey. When unable to obtain a legal copy of the Lily Mu video game, he acquires a copy from pirates (complete with eye patches, wooden legs and parrots), accidentally selling Gonard in the process. At the end of the episode, Mikey promises himself to never to prefer a video game to a good friend again. Then Ozu flips out the one last copy of the game, and Mikey and Gonard immediately start fighting over it.
    • And in Season Two, we have Back To School, where the crew has to work with a lower budget (cardboard cut-out props, costumes made out of paper, etc...) because they're losing money to grade schoolers getting pirated DVDs of their show instead of watching them on TV, and they spend the rest of the episode tracking down the culprit.
  • Teen Titans had an episode where Beast Boy illegally downloaded a game and it gave Cyborg a virus since he did it on Cyborg's power charger which he mistook for a computer. It had Cyborg seeing food based delusions. While not particularly Anvilicious, it was rather funny.
    • It was also one of the more realistic examples (aside from the Fridge Logic about how a power charger could play a game and store a virus in the first place, much less transfer that data to Cyborg rather than just charge his batteries). He downloaded a supposed prerelease of a very popular and anticipted game. Those sorts of things would be prime targets for viruses.
  • Robot Chicken had an ending gag around this, where some text debunked an argument about the damage caused by downloading movies on the economy as a whole, then stated that TV Piracy on the other hand was destroying this great nation.
  • Space Ghost Coast to Coast plays this for laughs at the beginning of Knifin' Around, with Space Ghost's failed attempt at copying a Radiohead CD. At worst, Thom Yorke was only amused at the sight of the supposed CD Burner blowing up.
  • Dethklok visits a record store in the season three premiere of Metalocalypse, where the announcement is made that "This record store will be closing in five minutes. Forever. Because it's a record store. Enjoy illegally downloading all your music."
    • The band also has their own method of fighting piracy. They send strike teams to kidnap anyone who has downloaded their songs. The downloads come with a warning, though.
      • Because Dethklok sales are so vital to the world economy, the UN allows them to carry this on.
  • An episode of Transformers Animated dealt with it in an almost-Broken Aesop. The episode was mostly about illegal street-racing, that Sari and Bumblebee would watch on bootleg cable, a subplot that felt like an afterthought compared to the rest of the episode. Once the street racing was dealt with, Bumblebee decided to cut their cable to "Set an example" for Sari. Okay, not only did the whole piracy issue feel tacked onto the otherwise perfectly-fine street racing plot, but how did the Transformers have such a full grasp of the concept of piracy at a time when they were still getting a feel for Earth customs?
  • Quite literal in Re Boot, with actual software pirates. They quit the evil part after being shown how much profit can be made in legitimate business, but still act piratey.
  • The "Piracy is Stealing" campaign got referenced in The Amazing World of Gumball when Gumball and Darwin are considering their options regarding an overdue DVD which is now in several pieces:

Gumball: We need a copy of "Alligators on a Train". I know, I'm gonna download it!
Darwin: Gumball!! You wouldn't steal a car, you wouldn't steal a woman's purse, you wouldn't steal a cellphone, PIRACY! IS! STEALING!!

  • Played with in the "Downloaded Music Awards" in one Kim Possible episode:

Musician #1: Downloading is about the fans, yeah.
Musician #2: Fans rock.
Musician #1: Even though we don't get any money when you download.
Musician #2: No money... rocks!
Musician #1: No, mate, no money does not rock.

Caricature[edit | hide]

Other[edit | hide]


"So don't download this song! (Nanananananaaaaah!)
You'll burn in hell before too long! (And you'll deserve it!)

Go and buy the CD (just buy it!) like you know that you should...(YOU CHEAP BASTARD!)\"
  1. It's literally magical, they're elves
  2. The message was added by the DVD editor without the permission of the creators, and they were actually rather pissed, not least because in MH, he's called "the Operator," not Slender Man.