The Pirate’s Curse – Do You Have It?

by Dan on August 10, 2009

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This is not an article about morals.  There will be no preaching, and no telling you what is right and wrong.

With that in mind, I wanted to talk about some of the phenomena I’ve noticed with product piracy, specifically piracy of self-help/dating/business products and software.  Some of what I’m about to say can apply to downloading music and movies, but to a lesser extent.

My all time favorite article on piracy is Steve Pavlina’s “The Truth About Piracy.”  Key points I got from the article is that if you feel the urge to download illegally, it’s ok to let it go through your system, but just don’t try to rationalize it.  It is what it is.  I went on sort of a pirating binge for a few months, didn’t feel so good about it, and ended up deleting everything I downloaded.  Afterwards, it was a lot easier for me to pass off on a download, because I didn’t actually have to resist it.  It just wasn’t attractive in the first place.

The main reason I do not pirate information products, such as ebooks and audio/dvd sets on “How to Make Money Online,” “How to Date Better,” “How to Sell Better,” etc., is because of a phenomenon I call the Pirate’s Curse.

When you’re pirating, unless you’re totally amoral in general, you have a sense of, “I’m illegally taking this without paying for it,” which is any normal person’s definition of stealing.

Some people are comfortable with stealing, but most find a way to rationalize the act so it doesn’t “count” as stealing.  They may think, “I’ll pay for it if it’s worth $350,” or “This is probably really overpriced.  I would have bought if it was $100 or less.  They’re just 15 CDs, right? How much could it actually cost to make?”

A lot of this is below the conscious level.

Once you’re listening to a course or using expensive software that you’ve pirated, you’re left with three interpretations of the event:

A) I screwed over the creator of this course.
B) This course wasn’t worth the money, so I’m totally fine.
C) I can’t afford this, so I have to take it without paying.  I have no choice!

Most people choose B.  They find a way to undervalue the method and show that it’s not worth $350.  If I get a course like Sedona Method legally, be it new or a used set, I am comfortable with believing it’s worth $100,000 dollars or more and that I just got a good deal.  However, if I pirate it, I’m forced to assume it’s worth less than the cover price.  In fact, I think each of us sets an arbitrary value for the course in our heads.  Maybe you’ll say it’s worth $150, but $350? Hell no!  So you only allow yourself to get $150 value out of the course.

You end up trusting the method less, and sabotage your progress by not going through the course with the full intention of dramatically altering your life.

Choice C isn’t much better, since it’s a huge scarcity mentality.  Saying “I can’t afford a powerful self help course,” is the money version of believing “I have to hypnotize women to like me.”  It’s a total downer on your self esteem that should be avoided.  Avoid any beliefs that render you powerless, especially if they lead you to take action that violates your values.

The best options?

Find someone to borrow from, get a cheaper option like a book, and save up for the real course.  I often find courses off eBay for $30-50 that cost hundreds cover price.  If you’re resourceful, you can find great deals.  Also look at Craigslist for second hand copies.  If you don’t scan copies, it’s also perfectly legitimate to get some friends together, split the cost of a set, and then rotate using it.

I used to believe in “try before you buy” piracy, but I’m seeing it as a less credible way to learn.  If you download with the idea of “I’ll buy it if it’s good,” and then you don’t buy it afterwards, you create an incongruence that forces you to not take advantage of the method.  Plus, 95% of the time you still have the course on your hard drive, so you know you’re going against your stated intention.

Oh, and if you’re wondering the difference between pirating and buying used, let me clarify.  When you buy a used item you are transferring ownership from the legal buyer to yourself, making you the sole person who owns that CD/dvd set.  For all intents and purposes, you are the new customer of that company.  When you download, you’re making a clone of someone else’s legal copy, which allows that same person to keep using the course or software, along with everyone else who downloaded it.

To make this clear:

Buying used:  Company gets $350 for one person holding a product at any given time.

Downloading: Company gets ($350/Total Number of Downloaders).  Possibly just a couple cents on the dollar per user.

Even if that doesn’t ring clear for you at first, I believe your subconscious already knows the difference.

Hope that makes sense.  On a practical abundance level, stay clean.

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