Follow TV Tropes


Digital Piracy Is Evil

Go To
Only total surveillance from the RIAA 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 their lesson by the end of the episode. Expect physical theft to be used as a comparison and/or a plot point.

When you start a commercially released VHS tape, DVD, or Blu-ray Disc, they usually open with verbose, unskippable screens from the FBI or Interpol warning the viewer massive fines and time in jail can happen as a result of piracy. Many DVDs 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, because those who end up distributing these downloads like to edit them out. In Europe this can lead to three almost identical warnings in German (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), two in Dutch (The Netherlands and Belgium) at least three in French (France and Belgium and Switzerland again), two in Italian (Italy and, you guessed it, Switzerland), two in English (the UK and Ireland), a number of very similar Slavic languages as well as a number of similar warnings in the Nordic countries.

The unintended side effect of browbeating legitimate paying customers while pirates don't see these warnings anyway has also led to subversions where DVDs will thank the viewer for paying for the movie.

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, may even actively encourage it, or have ceased to exist and so left the material in limbo, and tends to be virtually unsellable anyway, since it is often obsolete systems and formats that were commercially viable in the day but are now barely supportable now. 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 hurting any business if the market's non-existent in the first place.

See also New Media Are Evil, Even Evil Has Standards, Felony Misdemeanor, Copy Protection. See Digital Distribution for a form of media which can be tarred with the same brush. For the common catalyst on both sides of the argument, see DRM. Similar arguments are occasionally made against Fan Fic 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.

This has resulted in a major shift in the way music artists actually make a living. The paradigm used to be you made money from selling albums and tours were to promote your new album so people would buy it. Nowadays the inverse is true—you make money from touring, and releasing an album is a way to encourage people to come to your shows. Just compare the relative costs of albums and tour tickets since popular music began.

It should be noted that there are degrees to this. Most artists are okay with free distribution of live tapes or other material that isn't going to be officially released. Some artists are okay with free distribution of material that isn't out yet but will be in the future. Very few artists are okay with for-profit distribution of their officially released material.

For the opposite trope, see Digital Piracy Is Okay.

This is far from being a Discredited Trope or a Dead Horse Trope. It's more of a Cyclic Trope given how public opinion swings on the issue of copyright protection at any given time. Given you can now download a car...

For the other kind of present-day pirates, who are generally agreed to be pretty evil, you want Ruthless Modern Pirates.



    open/close all folders 
  • According to Microsoft in their campaign and posts, piracy leads to security risks, apparently unaware that phishing and malvertising also leads to security risks regardless, whether the software and hardware is legal or not.
  • The "Piracy: It's A Crime" ad first gives you several "you wouldn't steal <item>" examples, and then says, "but downloading pirated films is stealing". It then feels the need to point out that stealing is against the law. The ad is also translated into other languages, such as this French ad: "Le piratage, c'est du vol.". The Ad in question illegally uses another artist's music.
  • Some anti-piracy PSAs claim that "Buying Pirated Films is Stealing". This reasoning does get shaky if the pirated goods look authentic, though — then you're just a dupe in someone else's piracy, and the fault lies with the those who actually perpetrate it.
  • 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).
  • A Chinese anti-piracy ad from Hong Kong that has people saying "Thank you!" is a great example. The message at the end is so hilarious. This message says "The crime world thanks you! Without your help, how can piracy be so profitable? Keep away from pirated goods. Don't finance crime!" Watch it here.
  • Many British video tapes featured a bumper discussing anti-piracy holograms which unironically proclaimed that video piracy funds international terrorism, as in 9/11.
  • Beware of Illegal Videocassettes and Pirate Videos and Daylight Robbery are just two examples of these ads in the UK, along with the above example. The "piracy funds terrorism" ad sometimes appeared on VHS tapes from other companies, such as the UK release of Disney's Snow Dogs.
    Man: 'scuse me, I bought this video from you last Saturday.
    Vendor: So?
    Man: Well I can't understand a word.
    Vendor: Trainspotting? Not surprised. Whole movie's Scot, you need anything?
  • "Jackie and I are on a mission to stop piracy!"
  • An Malaysian promo has a spy trying to get a DVD. Then the scene cuts to a guy holding a DVD on a DVD vendor, which the spy segment turns out to be an Imagine Spot, and the DVD vendor claims that the DVD is a very good one, and it turns out that the DVD the guy is holding is a fictitious DVD with a man imprisoned behind bars on the cover with the text "THEIF" on it, and he then throws the DVD to the camera. The same fictitious DVD then appears on the black screen with the infamous "Piracy. It's a Crime" text on it, with the logos of the Motion Picture Association, Malaysian government, and the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairsnote  appearing below the image.
  • Another UK piracy trailer was about a girl named Rebecca who watches a pirated video which she wanted for a long time, but as facts about piracy are displayed, the video becomes a violent movie.
  • This Anti-Piracy ad featuring Mario claims that "Original games and software perform better". This is displayed by the music being off-key, Mario moving like he's drunk, him being beaten up by a baby, and Bowser bursting into flames at the end.
  • An Australian ad that commonly appeared on videotapes in the 90s, "Have You Got What You Paid For?", which was notably designed to be read even when fast-forwarded through.
    "Have you ever bought or rented a video tape that wasn't quite right? It may have been a pirate copy. An illegal and inferior copy for which you paid good money. Pirated tapes are recognisable by poorly presented or photocopied jackets, poor sound and/or picture quality, the lack of censor and other labels on the face and spine of the tape, and the absence of warnings, such as this at the beginning of the tape presentation. Pirate tapes rob artists and studios of their rightful income, and add to the cost of a video to the consumer."
    • This ad from New Zealand takes a similar if rather more melodramatic approach.
    • Used in the beginning of this video, The DVD Pirate.
    • Also parodied in this video by The Consumption, which starts as a pitch-perfect imitation of the original ad before going off on several bizarre and increasingly creepy tangents.
    "Pirate copies are recognisable by poorly presented or photocopied jackets, poor sound and/or picture quality, or the film not being quite as good as you remember. You may find that, somehow, The Chipmunk Adventure just isn't as much fun as it was on that chilly Sunday morning in 1993, no matter how accurately you recreate the pillow fort you watched it from. This lack of fun is probably because it's a pirate copy, not because you're now 31 and the eight original members of the sleepover you've gathered for the repeat viewing don't seem super into it and are actively trying to leave through that door you locked."
    "Pirate copies rob artists and studios of their rightful income, forcing Australian actors to drive Ubers, make bad coffee and host lifestyle shows."
    "Piracy has also led to the collapse of national economies, and in some cases, biblical flooding."
  • They bought it. He's gonna steal it!
  • "Bob's invited his friends to watch a DVD he brought in the store! Jim's invited his friends to watch a pirated DVD he brought on the street!"
  • In Mexico there is a campaign against piracy, which features direct links between you buying a pirate and your children learning to copy in exams and steal. "Pirate movies look bad, but you as a parent look worse" and "what you are teaching to your children?" are the (in)famous slogans of this campaign.
  • In a similar vein, in Chile, the pay-TV provider VTR, made a campaign against people who were illegally using cable TV without paying using the "don't teaching kids stealing by not using or cable system without paying" message.
  • This 2008 subway advertisement against purchasing illegally created DVDs parodies MPAA ratings to describe illegal movies as having awful sound and visuals, with ratings like RO for "ripped off," PS for "poor sound" (the guy recorded the movie while sitting next to a very loud laughing lady), OV for "obstructred view" (the guy in front of the recorder kept getting up for more concessions), and F for "fake." They also had a television campaign that showed clips of movies like Titanic (1997) and Happy Feet as if they were poorly recorded off a movie screen, showing how bad the quality of pirated films can be.
  • 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.
    • Also became an Appropriated Appellation; more than a couple of street vendors started branding themselves as Knock-Off Nigel.
  • Here's the Federation Against Copyright Theft's first video-piracy awarness. That's the fact.
  • Disney has made a few anti-piracy ads, mainly in United Kingdom, Europe and Asia.
    • The first ad features a VHS tape of the film you are about to watch, as John Sachs explains this information: "We want you to enjoy this video as much as possible. Unfortunately, there are many poor quality, illegal video cassettes now available to buy or rent from sources other than reputable retailers. Not only do these reduce the sound and picture quality of the film, but they may also damage your videocassette recorder. To make sure you're watching the genuine product, check for this security sticker on the cassette, and ensure your purchased your videos from a reputable retailer. If you can't find this sticker on your videocassette, telephone the Federation Against Copyright Theft at 0181 568 6646. Or in the Republic of Ireland on 353 1677 7071. Video piracy is a crime. Please help us to fight it."
    • The second ad contains side by side comparisons of pirated and Disney videos, had background music called "Disney is Magic, Disney is Joy", and featured such lines as "Mum, it's no good, the picture's all funny!" and "I can't hear it!"
    • The third ad used clips from more recent Disney films such as Toy Story and A Bug's Life.
    • The fourth ad was exclusive to DVDs, and it talked about "the heroes and villains" in Disney movies. You can watch it here.
    • "Just a reminder of what could happen with movies if you keep making or buying fraudulent copies, this is the end."
    • During The '90s, the Malaysian VHS/VCD company Berjaya HVN had an anti-piracy awareness message to help viewers of their programs to recognize a genuine HVN VHS. It included a genuine label hologram (either a Disney hologram for Disney tapes or just a white sticker with copies of the HVN logo on it) on either the spine of the cover or the cassette's spine, a blue videocassette skin, etc. However, it was inside the VHS which stores the cassette (also called inlays), and now HVN's tapes are long out-of-print, with seemingly no one being interested in taking a scan of the ad (or even posting it online), thus putting the message in lost territory. That was it, until on February 14, 2022, when a YouTube channel named "The Video Archive" posted a video called "Quick-Fire Collections: Malaysia," in which the video uploader showcased a few Malaysian VHS tapes he bought and also showed the inlaid warning messages for a while. CIC Video Malaysia did a similar thing for their genuine VHS release, but like the HVN one, it wasn't discovered for many years until The Video Archive showed it on an video. The Lost Media Archive Wikia even had an article about it here, which made a few months after its discovery.
      • Brazilian home video distributor company Abril Video has made two similar animated promos help their viewers to recognize a genuine Abril Video VHS. The company also has put a short message on their print advertisements encouraging readers to check for the hologram, but their video cassette also has a similar message above the copyright warning.
    • Although there's no Arabian anti-piracy promo for the official Arabian Disney VHS tapes, they have an genuine label holographic Disney sticker on the front of the cover alongside with an Arabian/English message that tells the customers to make sure that they buy the original Disney videos by checking that the sticker is present on the front.
    • From the early 1990s to the early 2000s, Italy has also had their own promo. A Disney VHS floating in an blue gradient background, before the camera moves to the zoom-in shot of the spine to reveal the Disney hologram with the two swooshes on it, followed by the Univideo logo (the logo appears on the back cover of the genuine Italian VHS), then an Italian message appears telling the viewers not to accept the fake and always demand only the genuine Disney videocassettes. This Italian blog has an in-depth detailed history of the promo.
      • In The '80s, Disney has also done an Italian print ad encouraging the readers to check for the original Disney VHS. In the promo, four Beagle Boys are stealing VHS from an giant Walt Disney Home Video VHS while detective Mickey is hiding behind it.
    • European Spanish anti-piracy promos have a Disney VHS floating on a background with duplicates of the Buena Vista/Disney Castle on it, before the Disney hologram flies out from the front end of the spine of the Disney videotape and the middle of the screen for several seconds, followed by the Spanish message warning viewers about the counterfeit videotapes.
    • Halven Video also has a promo demonstrating the idenifiers of a genuine video tape the company has distributed (including Walt Disney Home Video), while a relaxing musical piece plays in the background.
    • In 2009, the American Disney company started putting anti-piracy ads on some of its DVDs. One ad features Tinkerbell, and the other is the Knock-Off Nigel Wall-E ad, but with "Don't Be A Knock-Off Nigel" replaced with "Don't Buy Rubbish".
  • This Korean promo is about an animated talking videocassette warning about the counterfeit VHS tapes.
  • Japan has a very famous anti-piracy ad series which is as famous as "You Wouldn't Steal a Car" called "No More Movie Thieves". The ads involve a man with a video camera head dancing while a female voiceover tells about how it is illegal to record movies in theaters and what the consequences are. Many people on the Internet parodied the ad by creating costumes similar to the ones used in the ads.
  • The Dutch company filmwereld has created a few anti-piracy ads.
    • The first in the series thanks the viewer for buying a legal copy.
    • The second one, which has many variants, gives you a glimpse into the film world and ends with them showing that they fight piracy.
  • VHS tapes and VCDs released by Telaga Biru have a warning that blames counterfeits for other crimes such as fraud, theft, vandalism, murder, etc., says that purchasing counterfeits might condone, support and promote evil, and says you must only purchase the "halal" original copies. It is followed by a fade into an triangle symbol with the text "ORIGINAL" and the Arabic translation on it, with the green lines with Malay/Indonesian text such as "Cetak Rompak Adalah Haram Di Sisi Islam" (Counterfeit copies are haram on the side of Islam) and "Beli Yang Original" (Buy the Original), and another text below it that reads "Sebuah lagi produk bermutu dari TELAGA BIRU SDN BHD" (Another quality product from TELAGA BIRU SDN BHD).
  • In Philippine cinemas, there is an anti-piracy campaign featuring a guy went inside the movie theater while he bring up his camcorder then suddenly a guy with a black jacket (who appears to be an undercover agent) show up trying to go close to the guy in the red shirt then he ran away after he show his badge to him. He ran outside from the theater while these two guys chasing him then when the guy manage to escape, the gate is locked then afterwards, then he surrenders. After the scene, the guy with a black jacket telling the viewer to not pirate the film. You can see this ad here.
  • This anti-piracy ad about music piracy from the Philippines, which was created in 1999, involves a father and his daughter being killed by a terrorist. Shockingly enough, this ad showed up on children's music-related DVDs and VCDs, including "Mga Awitin ng Batang Pinoy". note 
  • An Italian promo features a man walking in an VHS storeroom. As he gets a VHS tape, a stack of VHS tapes collapses on him. While he is sitting on a stack of collapsed VHS tapes, he realizes that the VHS tape he's holding has a skull and crossbones on its tape label, while the red bleeding text reading "Le Cassette Pirata Ammazzano Il Cinemanote " appears.
  • A series of ads for Crusader Kings II themed around the Seven Deadly Sins skipped gluttony to take a look at piracy. While they're ostensibly dealing with high seas pirates, the fact that the pirate in question's name is meant to be heard as "Downloading of Games" makes it clear what they're really talking about. That said, the ad is also tongue-in-cheek (even more than the rest of the series), with the actors reading off scripts (the pirate lifts his eyepatch to do so); the king has a Who Writes This Crap?! attitude toward the whole thing.
    King: Ha! By following your life of piracy, you have hobbled yourself! You are unable to enjoy multiplayer, and it will be hard for you to enjoy updates or DLC.
  • An 1998 Argentinean anti-piracy promo surprisingly contains an English swear word on VHS player after a man trying to play an VHS (with Spanish words "El Maraja de San Telmo" on label) several times but explodes. See here. Also shockingly enough, this promo also can be seen on Argentinian children's VHS (including an Animaniacs VHS. We're not joking about that.) An similar print ad also exists too.
  • A Hong Kong anti-counterfeit VCD promo has an Asian man using the concretes to fill a stack of counterfeit VCDs, with a Cantonese pop-song playing on the background. It turns out that he built a prison for himself to close in. You can see the promo here. For the English variant, you can see the official upload here.
  • A lot of DVDs from cheapo distributor Madacy Entertainment (and its apparent subsidiary, DVD-4-U Entertainment) used an FBI warning that has a sad CGI prison inmate going to jail for his punishment with sad harmonica music. While he was sobbing over his punishment, a scroll-up message appears. There are, in fact, two versions.
  • Richard Simmons' videotape programs, namely his Sweatin' to the Oldies series as well as the Deal-a-Meal diet, are infamous for their unique FBI warnings. These include a gun shooting at the viewer as the Dragnet theme plays, a dramatic black-and-white courtroom scene where a man is convicted for copying videotapes, and a comedy sketch where Richard's mom gets caught illegally copying his program.
  • In Brazil, this can even be played for laughs. There is a commercial in which a girl says that because her father bought a pirated DVD, the next day they would sell firearms at school; in another one, it says that if you buy a pirated DVD, you will indirectly be contributing with the war.

    Anime & Manga 
  • 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 serious 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 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.
  • Charger Girl had several anti-piracy promos that played at the beginning of the each episode.

    Asian Animation 
  • At the end of Happy Heroes episode 51, Big M. and Little M. are seen selling pirated copies of DVDs, only to get arrested soon afterwards for that, with a monster following the police car.

    Comic Books 
  • 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 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. 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 a Heel–Face Turn he "Must 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.
  • Played for laughs in the intro of GLA: Misassembled #2, where Squirrel Girl warns readers not to do anything Mr. Immortal does in this issue, "especially on page seven. That's where he downloads stuff off the Internet for free."
  • Marvel Zombies 3 has a particularly out there lesson by showing a cyberpunk world where people consume media through cybernetic implants. An evil Jocasta of that world sets off a Zombie Apocalypse by installing malware in a pirated copy of a highly popular show that makes people it infects into mindless cannibals.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a Yenny story arc, the title character goes to see Transformers (2007) 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.
  • The Dick Tracy comic went as far as creating a new roster of digital piracy-themed villains, and doing scare-messages at the end implying that parents could be arrested and thrown in jail if their children download an MP3.
  • The original strips of The Boondocks had a couple of Sunday strips parodying the anti-piracy videos in the beginning of movies. One of them was of a man bemoaning that downloading movies was taking money away from the people selling bootlegs off the street.

    Fan Works 
  • This fan-made parody using One Piece.
  • 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...
    Sabretooth: ...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?
  • Inverted in episode 50 of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, where Joey defends the series in court against charges of copyright infringement brought by the 4Kids Entertainment legal department. Funnily enough, turns out that 4Kids is fine with the abridged series. It's just bots that keep removing LittleKuriboh's accounts on YouTube.
  • In The Web of The Spider-Man, Peter is worried what Ben and May would think of him if they learned of the immoral, clandestine, and illicit things that he does at Ned's house... then it turns out that he's just talking about streaming anime and it isn't quite as "super clandestine, illicit or necessarily immoral" as he might think it is, especially since he's running on a tight budget anyhow.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.
  • Pirated copies of the German, French, and Italian releases of The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie send you right back to the language selection screen after selecting a language and the warning.
  • In SCOOB!, Dick Dastardly is stated to be a villain because he doesn't pay for Netflix.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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 nonsensical (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 and Laserdiscs. 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 (2007), Glen Whitman confessing "I may have downloaded a couple thousand songs off the Internet, but who hasn't? WHO HASN'T?" during the interrogation scene.
  • 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, to the point of even uploading and seeding the content to induce the piracy in the first place.
  • 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.
    • Even funnier is when he negotiates for his cut, the other guy offers $100, which the jerk says isn't enough because the print is in 3-D (in 1984). When he is offered $110, the jerk says, "OK, now you're talking."
  • In Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Johnny implies that an illegal download would be judged just as harshly as a white lie. Then again, he states earlier on in his narration that the Ghost Rider has become so Knight Templar-crazy in the Time Skip between films that said "harsh judgement" would definitely get you killed, which is why he's been Walking the Earth and staying away from other people.
  • The Compleat Al begins with an anti-piracy notice that warns of the dangers of unlawful duplication, such as discoloration of fine upholstery, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, high blood pressure, the spontaneous combustion of pets, civil unrest, meteorological disturbances, volcanic eruptions, and the Earth falling out of its orbit and plunging into the sun.
    "The producers of this program assume no liability for any of the consequences resulting from your stupid, unthinking, greedy and careless attempt to deprive them of income."
  • xXx did this on a meta level with the film's title, which was picked not just for its EXXXTREME connotations but also to make the film harder to find on torrent sites, which are already filled with things labeled "XXX".

  • Inverted in Born To Run by Mercedes Lackey, in which the villains are particularly proud of the unbreakablenote  Copy Protection on their torture, pedophilia and snuff videos.
  • Peter F. Hamilton's Misspent Youth features some rather ham-handed anti-piracy 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.
    • One singer in The Night's Dawn Trilogy, who does interstellar tours rather than just the usual planetary ones, takes great satisfaction in depriving starship crews of one of their main revenue sidelines: Since she sells recordings everywhere she goes, there's no real market for their bootlegs of her work.
  • In one of the first book of the Net Force series, author Steve Perry stops the action so that two characters can debate digital piracy. However, since the Anti-Piracy advocate is the dashing lantern-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 she did (because she is a "good girl"), he mentions that he happens to already own a copy which she could have borrowed from him.
  • Steal This Book advocates rebelling against authority in all forms, governmental and corporate. See the Other Wiki.
  • The Hyperion Cantos 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.
  • One of Dave Barry's "Year in review" column mentions the U.S. economy going back up when it's discovered a teenager has actually purchased a music CD. The embarrassed teenager reveals that his computer is out of order.
  • Played with in the Harry Turtledove Alternate History novel Ruled Britannia. William Shakespeare doesn't like the contemporary equivalent of digital piracy - people creating transcripts of his plays and selling them, rather than buying the scripts directly from him - but he's more upset by the poor quality of the "pirate" scripts, which often butcher his dialogue or confuse characters (note-it takes place before the first copyright law in England, so this is legal).
  • In Mind Scan by Robert J. Sawyer, one of the motives for the character Karen Bessarian, a famous writer in-universe to undergo the titular Brain Uploading was so she'll retain control of her copyrights indefinitely, expressing disgust at the idea that someone could make works with her character she would find objectionable. Her son is not pleased with the news that she's done him out of his inheritance, as she'll know outlive him in an android body, setting up the plot-central courtroom battle on whether uploads retain the originals' identity, or even have rights when he attempts to get the estate.
  • Galaxy Tunes by Rob Reid. Aliens find out in horror that they inadvertently violated Earths copyright rules (by listening to the radio wave scatter) and want to set things right. You guess what happens.
  • Murder at Colefax Manor: Averted with the free PDF version of the book, released by the author.
  • At the start of The Heist, Kate is assigned to assist the MPAA in breaking up a piracy ring.
  • Year Zero: The galactic civilization that gets in touch with the protagonists did so because they respect each planet's local copyright laws so much, they went into a tizzy because they had started file-sharing our radio and music broadcasts before they found out Earth's laws. Not only do we have the best music, we have the most stringent laws and fines/penalties... and they want a lawyer on their side.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On a sketch from Cleveland's Big Chuck & Lil John Show Lil John has just been incarcerated for five years. When his cellmates ask him what he's in for, he says he dubbed a copy of Cinderella for his daughter.
  • The IT Crowd has a parody of one of the more annoying anti-piracy trailers.
    "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!"
    • And then later in the episode, the police raid the apartment of the German not because he was a cannibal, but because they were watching a pirated film.
  • 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 a 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.
  • 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.
    • Referenced in another episode, where Carly's apartment is used as a base when police investigate a nearby store allegedly selling pirated movies. Turns out they were literally just pirate movies.
  • 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 Leverage is a gang of thieves and con men who repeatedly do things like steal from the Department of Defense.
  • On 30 Rock, Liz listed the things "I don't do", which included "I don't download music without paying for it." Averted in "Believe in the Stars," where Jack tries to prove there's a limit to Kenneth's Incorruptible Pure Pureness. Jack is eventually able to entice him to steal his neighbors' cable, which remains pretty much the only bad thing Kenneth ever did on the show. Even immortal Pollyannas can be tempted by SpongeBob SquarePants.
  • One episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent edges into this, although it's a bit more complicated than that; it involves organized crime running a DVD bootlegging operation and killing a former member because he tried to go around them to set up his own side business.
  • 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 file host. 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...
    • It's perfectly confidential to use a public host if you use strong encryption and give the files a cryptic, or better yet, misleading filename. To the Average Joe it will look like they are corrupted or fakes (common with just released movies and games, made by the studios and Internet trolls to annoy the would-be pirates).
    • Let's just say if your mom gets honored at a police reception for reporting all the cars you stole, the "you wouldn't steal a car" analogy is going to fall a bit flat.
  • Seinfeld:
    • One episode 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 "The Tiny Kicks", Kramer gives an opening night pass ticket to a movie to a "friend" who videotapes the movie off the screen for street sales. When he takes ill, Jerry is forced into finishing the taping... and does such a good job that he is given other assignments.
  • In one Ghostwriter Story Arc, the villain turns out to be a VHS tape pirate (his case isn't helped by having started a fire earlier).
  • In Bones The team learns that their boss once was in a 70s blaxploitation flick and absolutely have to get their hands on a copy, but the film is out of print. The following dialogue ensues:
    Angela: I thought you said this was out of print.
    Hodgins: You're telling me you have millions of dollars of computer equipment, and you can't rustle up a copy of Invasion of the Mother-Suckers?
    Angela: ...I'm on it.
    • She ends up contacting the director via email, who finds the last remaining print in his garage, and sends it to her by mail.
  • In Caprica, Daniel Greystone invented the holonet, which is exactly what it sounds like—a virtual reality, holographic Internet. Greystone Industries had huge problems with digital piracy and people finding all sorts of loopholes to get free access, which they tried to stop to no avail. While on a talk show with his wife, Daniel has an epiphany, and declares that the basic service will now be completely free. When his board tries to vote him out, he explains his reasoning: They were already losing. By fighting the inevitable, they only painted themselves as the bad guys. By making it free, they generated massive amounts of good will. The board votes in favor of keeping him as CEO.
  • On Wiseguy, the OCB treats Winston Newquay's record bootlegging operations with the same seriousness with which they approached Mel Profitt's drug empire or Rick Pinzolo's labor racketeering.
  • An episode of the documentary television series Crime, Inc (not to be confused with the 1945 film Crime Inc) on CNBC explores the effect of digital and media piracy (though thankfully in a non-Anvilicious manner). While it is true that many works of commercial fiction such as movies and video games can be worth millions and that the actors/voice actors, directors, and other high ranking producers involved may make a big paycheck (and thus are notoriously used as Straw Characters by pro-piracy individuals to mock traditional consumers) and thus their incomes will not be in jeopardy, however claiming that piracy doesn't harm anyone is not accurate. The episode also shows how the unsung contributors who don't get to be on screen (e.g. stunt performers, camera men/women, editors, and other computer specialists) to be a very considerable part (and in most cases more so than well known celebrities) of movies' and games' production, but don't get paid anywhere near the amount of big name individuals, depend on the income they get for their work that goes unseen by the general public that is now lost because of illegal online sharing.
  • Discussed in detail in a segment of The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, which included two clips of then-Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull making contradictory arguments - in one he argued that piracy would stop if Australians could get their media on time and affordably, in the other, he argued that the entertainment industry needed to get aggressive about suing individual downloaders (while pointing emphatically at the camera).
    Charlie: But which Malcolm is right? Happy Malcolm, or Pointy Malcolm? And isn't there some sort of Malcolm in the Middle?
  • Minus the "digital" part, this is the key trope for The Dukes of Hazzard's very own second episode, since we see Boss Hogg's bootleg record operation in action. Justified in that Daisy is being conned out of her legitimately-owned royalty earnings.
    • In the same fashion, there is a 4th season episode in which we see Hogg's bootleg operation in action again as country star Mickey Gilley performs a major concert at the Hazzard Town Square. Boss uses the opportunity to confer with record pirates to record the concert and sell records on the black market, pining the fault on the Dukes.
  • Frasier: In "Roe to Perdition", Frasier and Niles board a freighter to buy caviar that's implied to have been smuggled out of Russia. As they're closing the deal, U.S. Customs agents storm the ship, causing Frasier and Niles to panic about being arrested. Turns out the agents were just looking for some pirated DVDs being smuggled on the same ship and have no interest in the caviar.
  • The 2000 MTV Video Music Awards featured a skit starring Lars Ulrich of Metallica in which a fratbro played by Marlon Wayans is downloading Metallica's songs off of Napster. When Lars enters his room and challenges him on it, and he responds that he's not stealing, just sharing, Lars decides that "sharing" sounds pretty cool. He brings in the rest of Metallica to "share" everything that this poor guy owns, taking his soda, his computer, his clothes, his car, and his girlfriend. (Napster creator Shawn Fanning was also at the VMAs and responded in kind, wearing a Metallica shirt that he claimed a friend "shared" with him and stepping out on stage to the tune of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" to introduce a performance by Britney Spears.)
  • Discussed in an episode of The Computer Chronicles where representatives from both the software industry and a warez group cracker known only by his alias "Frankie Mouse" were present each giving their side of the story.

  • Illegal, or at least unauthorized, transcription of someone else's music is actually Older Than Radio. Much like how blurry mobile-phone recordings of your favorite musical can now be found on YouTube, opera was often the victim of this practice, with hawkers waiting outside the theatre to sell unauthorized sheet music to the audience. And there's also the story of a composer named Gregorio Allegri who wrote a gorgeous 9-part choral piece in the 1630s, which Pope Urban VIII decreed should only be performed in the Sistine Chapel a few times a year. And thus it remained until the 1770s, when some 14-year-old Austrian punk heard it, memorized it on the spot, and wrote it down, thus smuggling state secrets out of the Vatican. Amusingly enough, the current pope, Clement XIV, actually praised the kid for his talent. The miscreant's name? Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
  • Averted by Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor has his own account on The Pirate Bay, seed0, which he's used to upload live audio as well as the "Closure" DVD, and the formerly Keep Circulating the Tapes "Broken" movie, a full-album music video.
  • The Mastodon song that played at the beginning of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters was a 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 several-years-old music video?note 
    • Amusingly, the version that's on MTV's music video site is actually edited to censor the names of the file sharing 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.) As of 2012, all the listed file-sharing sites are no longer in business.
    • A number of comments seemed to be Comically Missing the Point and taking the song at face value.
  • Comedy writer and actor Adam Buxton created a song called "The Mind Of A Pirate", 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. The pirate ends up destroying the world:
    And at the end of days
    I'll download End of Days
    Though because it is an old one and could take quite a while
    I might have to go and buy it anyway...
    Which would be ironic.
  • 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.
  • The debut album by Californian alt-rock band The Matches contained the message inside: "Unauthorised copying and distribution of this recording is a criminal offense... You rebel, you."
  • Parodied by The Lancashire Hotpots in "Deirdre".
  • Current 93 played this trope 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 and the eponymous Hi-NRG Attack compilation.
  • 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.
    • Eyeball Records re-released the album a few years later, with a less exciting warning.
  • A Take That!: Doc (Sweden) 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.
  • After the Napster lawsuit, Johnny Crass made a Take That! song against Metallica with a parody of their hit song "Enter Sandman" called "Internet Sandman".
    Now I lay Lars down to sleep
    I pray his copyrights to keep
    If he gets poor before he wakes
    He'll have to sell fries and shakes
  • 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").
  • 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 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.
  • iPod disclaimer: "Please don't steal music!"
  • Turisas commented on this in their song "Hunting Pirates", which otherwise might as well be read as a song about, well, hunting Pirates.
  • Printed on the CD of (The) Melvins' (A) Senile Animal is a rather different version of the typical FBI Warning. It's ambiguous as to whether it's meant as an over-the-top parody of the normal warning, an expression of the band's actual thoughts on piracy, or something in between:
    FBI Anti Piracy Warning: Unauthorized Copying is punishable under federal law. So don't do it or the FBI will come and get you and then your life will be ruined and it won't be anyone's fault but your own so don't go trying to blame someone else for your reckless disregard for the legal system. Your sense of entitlement is astonishing and it will inevitably be your downfall if you don't grow up and take responsibility for your actions.
  • MC Frontalot has a song called "Charity Case" in which he literally begs his listeners to buy his music so he won't starve.
    It's true!
    Frontalot's destitute!
    I need buy my CD so I can buy food!
  • The disclaimer on the back of the All Time Low album So Wrong It's Right says this:
    Unauthorized duplicators will have their homes burned to the ground by the band.
  • Diablo Swing Orchestra's albums Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious and Pandora's Piñata both have a notice on the back cover: "Unauthorized duplication, while sometimes necessary, is never as good as the real thing."
  • Daniel Amos' Dig Here Said the Angel has a message right after the copyright notice: "Please don't copy, share, or bootleg this recording. This is how we feed our families. Thank you."
  • This is the essence of "Dream Thieves" by Sonata Arctica
  • Sometime after the release of Everblack, Trevor Strnad posted a lengthy diatribe on the band's Facebook page about how downloading only hurt them. Not only were downloaders not "sticking it to the man" by downloading their material, but they actually had the potential to jeopardize their standing with the label if downloading sufficiently weakened their sales to the point that they had reason to believe that they were becoming old news, which could mean anything from reduced support to being dropped altogether. Trevor also went on to state that yes, they did make enough to live comfortably, but that they were nowhere near rich and still needed to work their asses off for that money.
  • Brentalfloss's Bits of Me album was circulating on torrent sites for over half a year. What pirates were unaware of when they got this album, though, was that they got this instead. The actual album is also on Brent's Bandcamp, should you want to buy it.
  • Putridity made a rather irritated post on their Facebook page that was aimed at Indonesian fans who were bootlegging their merch telling them that they weren't happy with unofficial merch and that they needed to go to the Willowtip Records webstore if they wanted the real deal. This is apparently quite a common thing for death metal acts to experience; "Indonesians are bootlegging our merch" is something that you'll hear from more than a few acts who have been around for long enough.
  • Peter Gabriel semi-subverts this; he's never come out and supported music piracy, but he feels current punishments are far too severe and that the current outlets for selling music are simply not working. He's also been vocal in opposing laws such as SOPA.
  • Certain tracks on promotional copies of Alestorm's Black Sails at Midnight open with a voice-over of the vocalist saying "Yarrr, you’re listening to the new Alestorm album, Black Sails at Midnight... remember, piracy is a crime!", presumably in order to discourage the sharing of these tracks. Pretty weird that they try to combat pirates, considering that the band is pirate-themed.
  • Cormorant subverts this, having no beef with pirates but preferring that they support the band at some point, but this trope is Played for Laughs on a joke Facebook post:
    Attempting to illegally let your friends hear the new Cormorant album while in your home will cause your computer to explode.
  • This trope is criticized in "Download This Song" by MC Lars.
  • How does KISS feel about it? Gene Simmons has said he wants anyone who downloads music to be thrown in prison for life. He's not making money from people who do that for free, of course he would have such a stance.
  • Done in a tongue-in-cheek manner by Liam Gallagher, who made his own tea in an online video and said that he used to have four people who'd do it for him in the '90s. Unfortunately, smartasses who illegally download records have resulted in him having to do it on his own, and that is why there are no real rock and roll stars anymore.
  • The Bob Rivers song "I Want My MP3", a parody of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing", is a satire on illegally downloading music.
    That ain't crooked, everybody's doin' it. Let me tell you, them kids ain't dumb.
    They don't give a rip about their favorite singer. They just keep ripping off their songs.
  • Zig-zagged in the Foreground Eclipse song "Angels, Monsters, The Secret Lyrics". It calls out people who listen to the song on YouTube or Nicovideo, but makes an exception for people who live overseas and can't buy doujin CDs.
  • "Home Taping is Killing Music" was the pre-Internet version of this trope. The cassette of In God We Trust, Inc by Dead Kennedys has this message on side two:
    Home taping is killing record industry profits! We left this side blank so you can help.
Here's a picture.
  • The Horslips subverted this one with a banner "advert" across the gatefold of an early LP that said, in large unfriendly letters in the same font as "HOME TAPING IS KILLING MUSIC":
    You can not, shall not, must not, will not, et c. If in doubt, consult your dealer.
  • Metallica — more specifically, drummer/co-founder Lars Ulrich — became notorious in the early 2000's for their hardline stance against peer-to-peer downloading, to the point of (technically successfully) suing Napster. Ulrich and the band have chilled out on digital media significantly in the following decades (from releasing music on streaming platforms and giving free digital copies to concert attendees) but the sheer unpopularity of their crusade led to even more of their songs becoming downloaded, not to mention many potshots throughout pop media.
  • Eminem has frequently expressed his frustration with piracy of his music, but he's also said he isn't mad at anyone for doing it because "if I'd had the Internet as a kid I'd have been all on that shit".
    • "I'm Shady":
      People don't buy shit no more, they just dub it
      That's why I'm still broke and had the number-one club hit
    • One of the humiliations Slim Shady was going to dish out to Christina Aguilera in "The Real Slim Shady" was to 'download your audio on MP3'.
    • In "Roman's Revenge", he pisses on a metaphorical (?) woman in revenge for her pirating his music.
  • Members of Skinless revealed during an interview promoting their 2015 album, Only The Ruthless Remain, that they were not only aware of the supposed pirate copy of the album already widely circulating among online Death Metal communities, but had even listened in...and found it was actually their 2003 album From Sacrifice To Survivalnote  with Ruthless's track titles digitally bolted on the front. Their demeanor during this could easily be described as "amused", although they declined to state whether they themselves had anything to do with the mix-up.
  • The Eraserheads were featured in the Joey de Leon comedy film Run Barbi Run, with a subplot involving their efforts at cracking down on a crime syndicate who were bootlegging their music. Around that time, illicit duplication of cassette tapes and CDs was rampant in developing countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia, hence why record labels and artists themselves took action to curb on pirating.
  • The controversial Black Metal band Gorgoroth—whose stage image and ideology is openly supportive of Satanism—has been very vocal against fan transcriptions of their songs' lyrics and has sent cease-and-desist letters against those trafficking said lyrics, also expressing their disdain towards the prospect of third parties covering their music for some reason.

  • RiffTrax averts it with a donation page that can be summed up as "we know you've probably at least had the opportunity to grab our stuff without paying — it's the Internet, these things happen, toss us a few bucks here and we'll call it even."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Fear Itself, a horror RPG, includes as part of its character creation process, asking the player to name the worst his character has ever done. The last example given is "illegally downloaded a role playing game off the Internet, depriving starving writers of their rightfully deserved income."

    Video Games 
  • In pirated copies of RUMU, at the end of the first act, the character Sabrina will lecture the player for pirating the game. The game will close, and a browser window to the game's Steam page will open.
  • In Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, specifically the mission "Tunnel Rat", you will find your target (an Afghani arms dealer) in a back room, checking out his stash of contraband. The target will be in his closet admiring his pirated copies of Hitman.
  • The Tales of... series has anti-piracy messages at the start of some 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 II 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 NeoGeo Battle Coliseum, where the evil organization hosting the tournament is called WAREZ.
  • In the pirated version of Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman's glider cape will stop working after a set point, making the game unwinnable. This yielded an epic moment where one pirate asked on Rocksteady's forums how to fix the "bug" and was told "It's not a bug in the game's code, it's a bug in your moral code." This ultimately backfired when the buggy behavior starting cropping up in legitimate copies.
  • 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.
    • This also occasionally happened on non-pirated versions of the game, even after weeks of being installed and running normally until the software checks started failing without obvious cause.
  • Parodied in Iji where the Komato 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?
    • Since 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 buying 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.
  • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U was originally slated to have a story mode like the Subspace Emissary from Brawl, but the idea was scrapped when Masahiro Sakurai determined it would be pointless, since those who wanted to see the story could see the cutscenes uploaded to YouTube in lieu of actually buying the game. Instead, he decided to use YouTube to hype up the new game with trailers for each new character.
  • 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.
    • The game also features a "save file erasure" thing similar to EarthBound (1994), although in a more subtle manner: instead of just taking you back to an empty "select your save file" screen, it 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. 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!"
    • Similarly in the older Wolfenstein 3-D:
      Hope this is your registered copy of Wolfenstein 3-D. If not, then we've got a problem. We need you to call Apogee and register. If you don't, well, it's funny how hard drives can get--you know--erased and all. I'd be a-registerin', if I was you.
    • Raven Software did the same as well, for instance from the full version of Heretic:
      "For those of you who have paid for SHADOW OF THE SERPENT RIDERS, we hope it made all your nightmares come true.
      If you have NOT paid for SHADOW OF THE SERPENT RIDERS, call 1-800-IDGAMES and register this game, or we'll send a Maulotaur out to visit you."
  • 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. Yes, this trope is applied literally In-Universe, and even justified: the patron goddess of each console grows weaker if they lose market share, and nobody benefits from pirate sales.
    • mk2 and Victory continue the theme. By Victory, you have a council of villains including members with names like Pirachu (an intentionally obvious Pikachu knockoff) and Copypaste.
  • 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. If you choose this answer, the demon proceeds to call you "worse than a demon" before instantly attacking you.
  • 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 1: In Pursuit of the Death Angel 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.
  • The manuals for each of Bungie's Marathon installments had a "Please don't pirate!" disclaimer.
  • Serious Sam 3: BFE has possibly the greatest DRM ever - if it detects your game is pirated, the game will summon an unkillable, impossibly fast pink Arachnoid to hunt you down and kill you in the first level.
    • There's another layer to this protection, if you make it to the third level at some point it will make the player aim to the left and upward at the maximum possible speed, basically leaving them spinning in place and helpless as it is exceedingly difficult to counter. This protection is also used in some of the HD re-releases of the older games in the series.
  • Borderlands 2 parodies this attitude with the questgiving NPC Censorbot, a Hyperion loader obsessed with conservative values and, obviously, censorship in particular. The second quest he gives you sends you to a literal pirate den, where you kill pirates and collect physical copies of their pirated "ECHO sims"; Censorbot feels death is the only appropriate punishment for their crime, and openly wishes all DRM could simply shoot the user in the face.
  • Pirated copies of Rogue increase the monster damage sixfold, and upon death, the player's tombstone lists their name as "Software Pirate" and the cause of death as "Killed by the Copy Protection Mafia".
  • If Mirror's Edge thinks that you have a pirated copy of the game, it decides to slow Faith to a crawl at the most crucial of moments, such as building up speed to clear a big jump, effectively making the game impossible to play. See it in all its glory(?) here.
  • If you downloaded a pirated copy of Far Cry 4, you will be stuck with a low FOV with no ability to adjust it to your preference. When players flooded complaints about the FOV on Ubisoft's forum and on Reddit, Alex Hutchinson (the game's director) tweeted that they are accidentally revealing that they pirated the game.
  • In Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, an anti piracy message that says "By the way, if you like this game, buy it or die" will activate by using a Seagallop Ferry when playing a dumped ROM version of the game. Ironically, this was actually added in by the hackers that dumped the ROM originally, and isn't in the official game code.
  • The Amiga game Lionheart had an "Info" screen questioning whether a game for "a pirate tormented machine" that took "four young and idealistic, but nevertheless PAID people" 16 months of effort to make would be able to pay off its development costs, and warning people who copied the game, "I hope you won't run around complaining that there are no good action titles for your machine anymore. Not we decide to quit developing those for the Amiga. You do. You did." Unfortunately, the prediction that Lionheart might be "the last action game by Thalion" proved correct, as Thalion folded the next year; fortunately, programmer Erwin Kloibhofer and graphic designer Henk Nieborg went on to develop similar games for other systems at Psygnosis.
  • Guitar Hero - Played for Laughs. The description for the pirate (the kind that sails the high seas) themed guitar says "We all love pirates. That is, until they start sending illegal copies of your music throughout the Internet."
  • Game Dev Tycoon turns the tables on people who play pirated copies of the game by having your in-game customers pirate the games you make in the game, eventually making the game Unwinnable by Design. The proper game has a (one-off) piracy event where you can do nothing about it or try to sue. A later update introduced "Pirate Mode", where the player's games are pirated on a regular basis, but the player can implement Copy Protection in order to slow them down.
  • Parodied in Charlie Murder. The Rival, Gore Quaffer, has an IT guy who pirates Charlie Murder's albums... on-board a literal pirate ship no less.
  • The Amiga Beat 'em Up Franko: The Crazy Revenge was developed in early-1990s Poland, where software piracy was not yet illegal. However, developers World Software found a way to get back at pirates regardless: at the end of the second level, you must beat up the real-life owner of a pirate software store in Szczecin, where the developers lived!
  • If your copy of Skullgirls is pirated, it will print the nonsense message "What is the square root of a fish? Now I'm sad." on the title screen. This became famous when a player accidentally outed himself as a pirate by asking the dev team about it on Twitter.
  • Game programmers can get livid about their creations being distributed illegally by pirates. They can leave angry rants hidden in the code, for instance. One programmer, Richard Aplin, decided instead to mock the pirates' Small Name, Big Ego personalities by writing a rant hidden in the code of the Amiga version of Final Fight, which opens:
    Ok. Remember Line Of Fire? Here we go again, crackers! Fill in the blanks:
    (Loads of pointless ANSI codes and whizzy animated bits)
    _____ of _____ presents the latest in Hot Warez..
    Final Fight ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 14925%!
    Cracked, Trained, Nobbed-Up and ½-parted by the amazing _______!!!
    Call our UK HQ on ____-______ for 1.4Tetrabytes of warez stored on Sinclair Microdrive, on-line 25hrs a minute, 75-19.2Gigabaud.
  • Nintendo is infamous for having an immense hatred for piracy, and has had a history of litigation against companies or entities engaged in unauthorised distribution of their software. In 2018 they sued ROM download sites LoveROMs and LoveRetro for offering ROM images of popular Nintendo games, going so far as to demanding hundreds of millions worth of damages. Despite piracy being a contentious issue at best, the suits didn't sit well with the gaming public, who equated Nintendo's heavy-handed actions to bullying.
    • It is reported that Nintendo once had an anti-counterfeit campaign in real life: at an Netherlands airport in 1994, a steamroller was publicly destroying confiscated Nintendo games (imported from Hong Kong), with a cosplayer in Mario costume also joining in.
    • It has gotten to the point where Nintendo purposely refuses to launch their services and Android games in countries that has black marks for piracy, for example, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp - a freemium Android game of all things. When asked why the game wasn't launched in Malaysia among many others, for example, Nintendo got their spokesperson to go on a long tirade about how the country's home to piracy and unauthorized modding and gloating that they will launch the game in those countries when the people stop piratingnote . Naturally, the true fans of the franchise who has never ever illegally downloaded the games are very angry, especially since piracy is also happening in other countries that the game is launched innote . It's also hurting the sales of their hardware in the countries that were accused of piracy and thus denied of their services.
    • During the Game Boy Advance era, a line of Game Boy Advance Video cartridges were made for the titular handheld console. These were white cartridges that contained full movies (including Shrek, Shrek 2, and Shark Tale) and television show episodes, compressed to fit the GBA's hardware limitations. These cartridges were incompatible with the Nintendo Gamecube's Game Boy Player accessory, as they would simply boot to a "Not Compatible with Game Boy Player" screen and lock up, preventing anyone from recording footage from the cartridges using a VCR for the purpose of selling bootleg VHS tapes. Even if one does manage to get the cartridges working on the GBA Player via hacking, the larger screen does not do any favors for the low video quality.
  • Pirated copies of DiRT: Showdown are perfectly long as you didn't mind random strings of text, like opponent names, being replaced with pirate-speak (eg. YARRRRR).
  • Bucky O'Hare on NES is already a Nintendo Hard game normally, but pirated copies of the game would be defaulted to an even harder difficulty setting where one hit will instantly kill you.
  • Parodied in pirated copies of Just Shapes & Beats, where the game admonishes you in a parody of the "You Wouldn't Steal A Car" PSA. Then a message from Lachhh (one of the developers) plays telling you he's also pirated games and to enjoy the game and support the developers through words.
  • Fairy Bloom Freesia: The manual ends with a warning of Freesia doing violence to the pirate:
    This product is licensed for use by the purchaser only. Distribution by file sharing programs such as P2P, BitTorrent, etc. is strictly prohibited and we will send Freesia your way to punch your face into oblivion.
  • One open source dev, chrisps, suddenly had this rationale and proceeded to add an anti-piracy measure to an emulator of all things. The Canary branch of the Xbox 360 emulator Xenia got a brief update near the end of July 2023 where loading a game's ISO (a common file format for game ROMs) would cause it to let out a high-pitched beep (funnily enough, only on Windows, so other OS users were spared). All because the emulator's Discord server got swamped with users asking about piracy, while also (accidentally) dragging in the ones that did dump their own copies since they also use the same format. The change was reverted, but not before the dev got several choice words from the users and other devs.
  • A Game Boy emulator named no$gmb called out those that pirated the emulator (it was a paid software) in its readme. Never mind that its Copy Protection is basically malware.note 
    A message says ILLEGAL COPY and beeps whenever I turn on my computer!

    Yup, that's what happens to people like you. However, as that message said, you can still use your computer (after hitting space 500 times), and after doing that five times (ie. 2500 keystrokes alltogether) the program will assume that you have realized your fault, and delete your harddisk, no, no, just joking, it'll stop bothering you at that time.

    Additionally you are encouraged to report your actions to your local police office.

    Note: That happens -only- to people whom have actually stolen a registration key, not to normal registered or unregistered users.

    Web Animation 
  • YouTube's video about Copyright Infringement, starring none other than Russell!: [1]
  • Parodied mercilessly by a Red vs. Blue public service announcement, "The RvBIAA". Church and Sarge are complaining about people pirating Red vs. Blue instead of buying the DVD, with the other cast members trying to explain to them that A) it's already on the web for free, and B) they haven't released a DVD yet (which has since happened). In a later Achievement Hunter video Geoff talked about originally having no issue with digital piracy until he discovered an entire series they had produced on torrent. Realizing the lost revenue from something they had put so much work into he abruptly found himself siding with the anti-piracy crowd.
  • A coked-up Pinkie Pie rants about digital piracy in the PONY.MOV series, and asks passerby how they'd feel if musicians came in and stole their things.
    Octavia: I think I'd mostly just be confused?

    Web Comics 
  • 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 influencing innocent children to get their video games over the Internet rather than through legitimate retail stores.
  • Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger had an interplanetary MegaCorp 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 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.
  • Penny Arcade seems to hold this view, evidenced here and here. Unusually, they lampoon the makers of DRM as well as the pirates, something the usual designers of stealth PSAs rarely do.
  • The Oatmeal's "I tried to watch Game of Thrones and this is what happened'', with a dose of Good Angel, Bad Angel, shows how digital piracy can be justifiable.
  • Parodied in Raruto (parody of Naruto), where in a flashback the Third Bigboss [Hokage] goes to arrest a criminal who had been downloading CDs from the net. It turns out the criminal is Chochimaru [Orochimaru], and the Bigboss says: "Then all the stolen corpses, the murders... It was all your doing! I'm sort of glad you don't download music. It's a relief."
  • The Electric Wonderland comic "Shrooming With Shroomy" has a few scenes that promote this mindset while NJ, Aerynn, and Shroomy use the Internet to circulate some tapes that NJ's grandfather made of movies and shows that had recently become unavailable to stream. NJ and Aerynn have trouble deciding whether or not to adopt this attitude, since they know piracy has become illegal, but also that their business prevents old works from becoming forever lost to the public. They stop circulating the tapes in the end, after the company holding official distribution rights to those movies and shows passes on the rights to someone more willing to keep those works available.
  • The premise of the web manga series, Music Moral Keepers starring a music group who show the consequences of uploading and downloading music.
  • Exterminatus Now: Apparently Inquisitorial immunity that covers everything up to genocide doesn't include file-sharing charges.
  • Alien Hand Syndrome: Here, Mina feels guilty about downloading pirated comics, but she only does it because she was scared off visiting comic stores by a bad childhood experience. Erin seems to think piracy is OK even though she's rich and can afford all the comics she wants.
  • Kim Jung Hyun of Welcome to Room #305 berates his teenage sister for having manga downloads on her computer.
  • One Dork Tower strip had Matt puzzled as to how his favourite game system was going bust when everyone he knew owned all their products. It turned out that nobody he knew had bought any of their products.

    Web Videos 
  • Inverted on the Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog DVD when the League warns you against using the DVD for non-evil purposes. Ripping the DVD reveals a screen reading "You ripped our DVD? How do you not fear us yet?"
  • Parodied in a 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".
  • In this incredibly well made public service announcement a master criminal is caught in the act of illegally downloading music (specifically trying to download the Foo Fighters) when our hero kicks down the door and arrests him with his trusty sidearm, a pair of staplers.
  • As one might expect given the nature of the series, this LG15: the resistance promo vid averts this.
  • This parody by SORP Films (Warning: NSFW)
  • Mr. Coat and Friends spoofed this at the end of this video.
  • Another parody: the first thing you see upon starting up the Marble Hornets DVD is: "Please don't copy this DVD. Or else Slender Man will get you."note 
  • Lampooned by the Monty Python crew, when they launched their official YouTube channel:
    For 3 years you YouTubers have been ripping us off, taking tens of thousands of our videos and putting them on YouTube. Now the tables are turned. It's time for us to take matters into our own hands. We know who you are, we know where you live and we could come after you in ways too horrible to tell. But being the extraordinarily nice chaps we are, we've figured a better way to get our own back: We've launched our own Monty Python channel on YouTube. No more of those crap quality videos you've been posting. We're giving you the real thing - HQ videos delivered straight from our vault. What's more, we're taking our most viewed clips and uploading brand new HQ versions. And what's even more, we're letting you see absolutely everything for free. So there! But we want something in return. None of your driveling, mindless comments. Instead, we want you to click on the links, buy our movies & TV shows and soften our pain and disgust at being ripped off all these years.
  • Gaming Wildlife, a production of Channel Awesome, has released videos about video game piracy and emulation, which in general come off as paid corporate-sponsored propaganda videos. The videos make such wild claims as "people who pirate games are naturally bad at games" and generally try to guilt, shame and insult anyone who doesn't pay money.
  • In general, a lot of gaming channels on YouTube, especially those run by those who collect game cartridges and hardware, will be anywhere from passive-aggressive to outright vicious at the idea of playing old games on emulators. Though it does come off as a bit hypocritical of them to do so, since many of them admit to buying their game collections USED meaning the game companies don't see a dime off their purchases.
  • Geoff Thew from Mother's Basement avidly believes this. In his video "There's NO GOOD REASON to Pirate Legally Available Anime" he goes on about not just the moral aspects, but also counters the reasoning of those who say that Digital Piracy Is Okay. In the end, he points out the importance of the economic aspects: if we don't buy the product, the industry won't be able to sustain its supply. On the other hand, his zealous stance and unwillingness to platform the arguments he tries to rebut got him into a bit of controversy when he was called out by fellow anime Youtuber Uniquenameosaurus, who made two videos arguing in favor of pirating anime on the grounds of questionable industry practices and inadequate consumer options. As of May 2020, Geoff's video has about equal likes and dislikes.
  • Sarah Z shoots this trope to hell in The Weird World of Theatre Bootlegs regarding bootleg videos of Broadway shows. She raises the points that a) most shows are expensive to go to and someone who watches bootleg is doing so because they're unlikely to ever afford to see the show (due to ticket prices or being unable to travel for it), b) a pirated theatre show is very different from a pirated film, as the experience of theatre is largely dependent on being physically in the building (and a person who enjoys a bootleg version of a show might still be likely to pay to see it in the flesh if they get the chance), and c) sometimes a bootleg version of a show can be beneficial; the Heathers musical did poorly in its first run, but it developed a large fandom thanks to people watching bootleg videos of the show - and this led to a West End revival where it was much more successful.
  • Mario Party DS Anti Piracy focuses on the (fictional) Copy Protection of Mario Party DS. Hints show that these measures were added by a rogue employee who believes in this trope to an extreme, to the point of adding an entire character to punish pirates and who can manifest in the real world to kill them or call the cops to arrest them.

    Web Original 
  • The PC gaming website has an exhaustively researched treatise on piracy archived here. The author has some very strong words to say about the subject; stating that piracy is very widespread on PC, greed is the primary motivation behind it, none of the excuses commonly presented stand up to scrutiny and that piracy has caused significant damage to the gaming industry. On the other hand, he does give some suggestions that game developers and publishers can follow to help the situation; such as releasing demos for their games and to stop delaying releases by region.
  • 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.
  • Dorm of the Undead, a new feature on, 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 a 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.
  • "Kid Rock Starves to Death", an article from The Onion in 2000. It also reminds readers of the tragic death of Elton John in 1978, before private ownership of cassette decks was outlawed.
  • This anti-downloading PSA from Ebaumsworld uses footage from An American Werewolf in London.
  • The official Jardinains! website acknowledges that it's possible to pirate the 100 bonus levels, but claims that you'll get "a heaping portion of soul rending shame" (original emphasis) if you do it.
  • Imperial Kommissar Fuclaw from /tg/ would like to remind you: downloading illegal MP3s is HERESY.
  • "That's patented!"; "With copyright in head"; "The Patent"; "Attack" (text:"How do you think — are our disks licensed?"); "Creative labour" (text:"Let's use protection ?.."); "Civilized approach" (text:"...we chose deliberate and civilized approach to the protection of copyrights"; the author's comment: made for a journal article about "anti-pirate campaign" which turned out to be part of war between traders in infringing copies).

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama:
  • The Boondocks
    • In "A Date with the Health Inspector", Jazmine's father 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).
    • In "...Or Die Trying", after Granddad forced Jazmine to accompany him and the boys while they sneak into the movies, 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". Jazmine 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.
  • South Park:
    • The episode "Christian Rock Hard" has the kids download at most 2 songs from the Internet, but within seconds of the deed being done, the house is then stormed by FBI agents as if they were Waco or something. 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 glamorous private jets (ones without a remote control for the surround sound plasma screen TV and DVD entertainment system), not being able to buy a French-Polynesian island, or waiting a few weeks for luxuries rather than buying them now, 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.
    • A UK advertisement for the show was a song that contained these lyrics:
      We get 'em straight after the yanks, so fuck The Pirate Bay.
      If you're compelled to torrent stuff then make it
      Game of Thrones
      And do your legal viewing here, coz
      South Park's coming home!
  • That really weird Anvilicious episode of The Proud Family, "EZ-Jackster". Penny meets a mysterious, Matrix-like stranger who upgrades her old computer that can only play Pong into one that can browse the Internet. Then he shows her the stash of illegal music on the Internet. Soon, the whole world knows about it and the music companies don't make any money anymore. The episode also compared downloading music to using drugs.
  • The Simpsons:
    • 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 (although only after Lisa and Marge guilt-tripped him to the point he gave in) as a kind of evil even he can't support.
    • In "Funeral for a Fiend", commercial skipping is treated as something akin to piracy... somewhat... It all starts with Homer going out to buy a battery, but he gets it for free because he used the choice of buying a $200 TiVo with subscription. After installing it, the Simpsons, especially Marge, start getting used to skipping commercials. But then Marge falls asleep and has a nightmare with Keith Olbermann warning against such a terrible action, so she starts watching all commercials. It is then that her woke-up family meet her in the living room and a new restaurant ad appears; they like it, so they happily go to the restaurant opening. When they arrive there, they discover an empty room and the restaurant owner ties them up in chairs. They had fallen into Sideshow Bob's newest murder plot. So, Digital Piracy Is Okay and you shouldn't watch TV commercials so you don't end up killed?
    • In "Steal This Episode", Homer sets up a movie theater showing pirated movies in his backyard, but Marge rats out the operation to the FBI. After hiding in the Swedish consulate, because they have a lax notion of copyright, he gets arrested and put on trial by a large group of Hollywood stars and producers. However, after it's pointed out that it's a David vs Goliath type of situation, they let Homer off, and even make a movie out of the whole story. Homer then moves on to criticizing people for pirating the movie (even though it's a story of how piracy is cool), and in the end, Lisa concludes that while both sides call themselves noble, both are just greedy.
  • Family Guy: As soon as Peter tries to record Monday Night Football on his VCR, armed FBI officers kick down his front door demanding him to present the written consent from ABC and the NFL to record the show. Peter only has consent from ABC and so the FBI destroy his VCR.
  • Kappa Mikey:
    • Parodied in one episode; when Mikey is 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 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.
    • In season 2, 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.
  • Played for laughs on Dexter's Laboratory's "Bad Cable Manners", where Dexter managed to steal satellite TV since his dad couldn't do it. Then the "Satellite S.W.A.T." arrive to arrest Dexter's Dad.
    "Mr. Dexter's Dad. We're well aware of your current situation. Piracy of our satellite broadcast is a felony. This is your last warning. Legal action will be taken".
    • Not as much of an overreaction as it is an escalation, when you consider that Dexter kept overpowering their attempts to block the pirated signal, thus requiring them to take more drastic action.
    • It also didn't help that even when it is explained to Dad that he has to pay them for the satellite TV or he can't have it, he refuses to pay, believing cable to be a right instead of a privilege and attacks them, leading to him fighting them and landing him in jail.
  • Teen Titans (2003) 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 hallucinations. It was one of the more realistic examples (aside from the question of 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 anticipated game. Those sorts of things would be prime targets for viruses. Then again, what do you use nowadays to charge your cellphone?
  • 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 3 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 illegally 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 ReBoot, with actual software pirates. They quit the evil part after being shown how much profit can be made in legitimate business, but still act like pirates.
  • 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.
  • There was a Scooby-Doo episode where the bad guys recorded songs from the radio, duplicated the tapes, and sold them by the thousands. This being Scooby-Doo, one of them had to smuggle the tapes out of the studio (hidden in a cave), dressed as a pterodactyl. There was also one where the bad guy was selling illegal copies of a video game.
  • My Dad the Rock Star had an episode where some music pirates recruited Buzz to steal a copy of Rock's latest album. Willy and his friends stealthily replace the CD with an album of New Age music Rock's hippie wife had made, to the disgust of the pirates.
  • The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat had an episode where Da King of another planet stole the Earth (he believed to have won the rights to it from gambling) for its "Felkron". When Felix confronted him for this, Da King showed a videotape to explain his reasons. The tape had an F.B.I. warning that illegal reproduction would result in "violent-type actions".
    • An earlier episode "Night Drop" had Felix being eaten by a VCR when sleeping at a video store. The warning said "Do not copy this tape, or we will find you and flick your ear".
  • Young Justice (2010) plays with this trope. One episode involves a guy who sells pirated DVDs and video games, and Blue Beetle mentions that he will be arrested for it offscreen. While his piracy is depicted as a bad thing, Blue Beetle only got involved in the incident because he thought the guy was involved in something much worse, he barely even cared about the pirated merchandise, and it's made out to be small potatoes compared to his status as a Domestic Abuser.
  • Adventure Time treats this trope as seriously as they do everything else. Finn and Jake are in the habit of hosting movie nights for their friends, but when the FBI warning about unauthorized public performance is pointed out to them, they react in horror and refuse to show any more movies, because they can't get permission and heroes don't break the law. The main reason they can't get permission in the first place is that they just so happen to live on a post-apocalyptic Earth, several thousand years after the civilization that made those movies (and the FBI warnings) was destroyed, and they've been finding the tapes in the rubble of old cities.
  • Robotboy did a weird take on this: in one episode, Gus used Robotboy to pirate an unreleased video game, which messed with the poor robot's brain and caused him to hallucinate that he was a character in the game and surrounded by hostile aliens. Not having learned his lesson after the initial few outbursts, a later scene had Tommy getting a call from Gus and refusing to let him use Robotboy to pirate another game.

  • Like the Nintendo example above, Taiwan's Government Information Office and National Anti-Counterfeiting Committee have been reported to have once held a public event where a steamroller crushed counterfeit video cassettes lying in the streets.

"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!)"


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Digital Piracy


Jesus Pirates A Game

To play the next game, Jesus (played by Caddicarus) had to pirate it because it wasn't on Steam anymore... Unfortunately, since piracy is a sin...

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (30 votes)

Example of:

Main / KeepCirculatingTheTapes

Media sources: