In the early 2000s, Internet piracy was a new and scary concept for nearly all sectors of entertainment media. People were slowly figuring out how to share digital copies of movies, music and video games and the industries didn't know what to do about it. Granted, many of those industries still don't know what to do about piracy, but as somebody in their 20s, I can remember one distinct (and hilarious) PSA that used to run on T.V. and DVDs about the effects of piracy.
The PSA showed a girl on a computer downloading movies and then cuts to others being shown breaking into cars, stealing handbags, television sets and DVDs off a store shelf. We're then reminded that downloading pirated films is stealing and that "piracy is a crime." Compelling stuff.
Anyhow, a decade later and peer-to-peer sharing is simply a reality of life for many of the people with computers. iTunes and several media companies have done well in getting people to cough up cash for digital copies of music, movies and television shows, and digital game downloading is a growing market. Of course, people still pirate the hell out of stuff, with HBO's Game of Thrones being the most pirated show for two years running.
In fact, when asked about the show being the top downloaded series for two years running, Time Warner (parent company of HBO) CEO Jeff Bewkes said last summer that the numbers were a compliment, in a way.
"I think you're right that Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world," said Bewkes. "That's better than an Emmy."
Well, I guess that's progress. Better than the "sue them all to hell" mantra that was heavily prevalent in the first part of the 2000s, an ideology still being employed by the MPAA.
And now with the advent of 3D printing, that piracy is also moving into the world of physical items, with people printing off their own weapons, household items and even toys. LEGO, the ever-popular but expensive building toy, was one of the earliest and most popular items "pirated" using 3D printers. Users are now able to print off any piece they desire and even make custom ones that work with the real deal.
Companies have also started to experiment with 3D printing big-ticket items such as vehicle panels, and many of the classic vehicles in the most recent James Bond film were in fact 3D printed and then put onto a working chassis. Suddenly that whole downloading a car thing is becoming a reality and Honda is hopping on the shareware express by recently releasing 3D models of several of its cars for anyone to do with what they'd like. Looking to print your own Acura NSX concept? If you've got the means then you have Honda's blessing. Of course, the chassis, engine and electronics all need to be sourced elsewhere — for now.
But with Honda providing the models and HBO not being immediately upset over the piracy of their content, it shows the outlook of companies is evolving when it comes to data sharing and piracy. Where it goes from here is anybody's guess.