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Digital Piracy Is Okay

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"... if you wanna record this song and you wanna put it on a world wide web — on the internet, so all your friends could listen to it - as long as you buy the album in September — we don't give a fuck, my friends!"

An inversion of Digital Piracy Is Evil, where downloading something not only doesn't mean you're a reprobate, but is actually encouraged by the artist. Compare Digital Distribution, for when they want you to download it but still expect you to pay for it.

Beyond evangelism, reasons for this attitude may include boosting coverage and/or market share, sales of complementary goods, nurturing fan-added value, or a dim view of copyright law.

See also Keep Circulating the Tapes and Information Wants to Be Free.

Abandonware is a related concept, where circulating obsolete software is given a pass because the market for it literally doesn't exist anymore. Another big reason that popped up recently is due to shows being removed from their streaming services or games being removed from stores for what is considered greedynote  or nonsensicalnote  reasons, as the digital age meant that physical copies usually don't exist.

(Only add examples where the creator of a work has endorsed piracy of their own product. This is not a forum for discussion about piracy.)


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  • Trent Reznor has encouraged fans to download his music, since he hates the ridiculous price tag the record companies tack onto it:
    • As a part of an Alternate Reality Game, Reznor and his crew left various USB drives containing new songs in various areas of venues, with the specific intention that they be leaked as a part of the game. Instead, those who leaked the files were hit with cease and desist notices from the RIAA, despite Reznor and his label specifically notifying them of the game and files. Needless to say, Reznor was furious and, along with further Executive Meddling of his music, is the reason he went independent after Year Zero was released.
    • Reznor once blasted his record company for inflating the price of CDs in regions with a bigger fanbase, claiming "as a reward for being a 'true fan' you get ripped off", and urging fans at a concert in Australia to "steal" his songs. Since then, he's left record labels (apart from Hesitation Marks which was released through Columbia Records) and now acts as a free agent with an emphasis on digital distribution, putting out an album with a "pay-what-you-want" system (Ghosts I-IV), and three for free (The Slip, Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts) .
    • Reznor has also commented that it's okay to download his music because "he's rich", and that the decision was his call, not the fans or the company, to make that offer, and noted that a lot of other artists are not in the position he's in financially, and he asked that they be given the same courtesy.
    • It should also be noted that, while only the first nine tracks to the album (Ghosts I) were made available on the band's website at the time of the album's release, you can also download the whole album for free. Ghosts I-IV is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license, in effect allowing anyone to legally share the entire album without any repercussions, as well as allowing people to remix the album's content (so long as it's for a non-commercial use, credit is given to the original artist, and the remixes are placed under the same license as the original album).
    • Reznor is also an avowed pirate, being a member of former music torrenting site Oink.CD and once said that labels could do better to actually try and match said sites. They also have an account on The Pirate Bay, which he used to upload a few Nine Inch Nails live stuff, as well as obscurities and the nearly lost "Broken" movie, as an ISO file no less, with DVD menus (it was formerly a low-quality VHS Keep Circulating the Tapes thing).
    • Reznor has also given his blessing to the bootleg fan archive NIN Live, and endorsed a fan edited-concert film consisting of several shows from NIN's 2018 live tour to make up for the cancellation of the 2020 tour.
  • Paul Schrader has this opinion on Dying Of The Light, even uploading a torrent of his personal director's cut.
  • After unfinished material leaked, System of a Down said they didn't care if people downloaded their music, but requested that people wait until they were finished with it. One of their releases is called Steal This Album! and is even designed to look like a burned CD-R (pictured above).
  • There are rumors Britney Spears leaks her own demos and isn't that bothered by album leaks.
  • The creators of the film The Man from Earth encouraged people to download the movie using BitTorrent.
  • The German metal group Eisbrecher included blank CDs in with the first 5000 copies of their self-titled album, basically saying to fans "Copy this."
  • Michael Moore was very supportive of people who downloaded his film Fahrenheit 9/11 off the Internet, but it probably didn't hurt that it grossed over $222 million during its theatrical run anyway.
  • Mike Jittlov encourages people to watch The Wizard of Speed and Time on YouTube or download it and spread it around as long as they don't make a profit off it, since he lost the rights to producer Harvey Bookman and the film has never received a DVD release.
  • Best Brains Inc., the guys who brought you Mystery Science Theater 3000, encouraged viewers to Keep Circulating the Tapes back in the before times when digital piracy was in its infancy. Even now they're still easy about it and want people to be able to get a hold of MST3K episodes which weren't released on DVD by allowing the Digital Archive Project to distribute most episodes and uploading a few themselves to Google Video.
    • Newer distributors Shout! Factory seem to be keeping to a similar profile, uploading multiple full episodes to their YouTube channel, as well as notating them with explainations for some of the more obscure riffs.
      • Ironic, considering their policies on some of the other properties they have distribution rights to (for example, Power Rangers and various Hasbro franchises To those confused... )
      • It seems that in the case of various, they are a lot more lenient nowadays.
    • The "keep circulating the tapes" thing originally started as a way to help popularize the show in the U.S. (Comedy Central was not available everywhere back then) and abroad (with the hosts giving the occasional Shout-Out to fans from places where the show didn't air, such as France). It was removed in Season 5 for legal reasons, but the tradition nevertheless carried on.
  • Steal this Film, Steal this Film II, and TPBAFK are documentaries about The Pirate Bay and internet piracy culture, interviewing many people who thought Digital Piracy Is Okay. Obviously, the movies self promoted users to steal this film.
  • Amy Lee and Ben Moody have gone on record to say that they are fine with people freely downloading their pre-Fallen songs, due to the fact that it's not even remotely affordable to buy like their current stuff.
  • Nerdcore hip hop artist MC Lars has a song entitled 'Download This Song' that is, more or less, a complaint against the monopoly of sorts of the record labels and urges the listener to download music as a means of breaking said monopoly.
  • Electronic musician Renard Queenston stated on his site's FAQ that he endorses pirating his music, as it helps get his name out, and people who pirate his music will eventually come around to support the artist.
  • English hip-hop artist Dan Bull is loved on the internet for his song Dear Lily, a Take That! at Lily Allen for opposing piracy. The entire song supports filesharing and attacks record labels.
  • Post-hardcore band Glassjaw has encouraged its fans to illegally download their album Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence, rather than give money to Roadrunner Records by purchasing it. This is due to an ugly spat between the band and Roadrunner after the recording of their first album.
  • Encouraged by Iron Maiden when they performed in Gothenburg in 2005, a concert which aired live in the Scandinavian countries.
    Bruce Dickinson: If you're watching this and you're bootlegging it, make sure that you send it to all of your friends, not just the Swedish ones.
  • Encouraged by Dead Kennedys with the cassette edition of their EP In God We Trust, Inc. Its B-side had a label stating, "Home taping is killing record industry profits! We left this side blank so you can help."
    • Bow Wow Wow pulled the same move on their cassette single "C30, C60, C90, Go", which in and of itself is basically this trope's national anthem.
  • Eyeshine puts a fake FBI disclosure on their CDs, of note the one from Red Stripes White Lights: "FBI Warning: Illegal distribution is a criminal offense punishable by DEATH. Just kidding, make sure all your friends get a copy."
  • Joss Whedon normally is no better than neutral on piracy, but was angry when, due to real life school violence and Moral Guardians' influence, the WB network refused to air the finale for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3, in which the school is blown up by Giles, until months later, as the previous episode had left fans hanging (Joss had no objection when "Earshot"'s airing was delayed for similar reasons, as that was more of a standalone episode). He was quoted about the Season 3 finale as telling fans to "Pirate the damn thing!"
  • The developers of Thrill Kill released the game on the Internet themselves after being bought out by Electronic Arts, who cancelled the game at the last minute (and refused to sell it to anyone else) due to fears of Moral Guardians.
  • In an interview, Steve Smith commented that The Red Green Show has gained its largest following ever since it went off the air thanks to people posting clips of it on YouTube. He is presently working to get all 300 episodes on YouTube and has considered bringing Red Green back as a web series, saying that the older he gets, the harder it is to work with a standard TV network.
  • Straight No Chaser encourages their live audiences to record them.
  • Most people consider Machina/The Machines of God to be The Smashing Pumpkins' final album before their reunion in 2005. This is because Billy Corgan wanted to release its sequel, for free, to anyone who purchased the first one. When the label wouldn't let him, he pressed a mere 25 vinyl copies of Machina II and distributed them to friends, family and chosen fans, with specific orders to upload the entire album to the Internet without restriction.
  • Mark E. Smith and The Fall encouraged fans to make their own recordings of live shows.
  • Sort-of counter-example: because of legal entanglements with his label, DJ Danger Mouse (the man behind the infamous Beatles/Jay-Z mash-up album The Grey Album) couldn't release his album Dark Night of the Soul, a collaboration between himself, film director David Lynch and late alternative rock musician Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse. Well, to be specific, he couldn't release the music. So instead, he released the album — with full artwork — as a blank CD so that people who acquired the music from less-than-legal sources could burn the music to the CD.
  • According to musician Amanda Palmer, "The fact that a couple of hundred thousand of people in America are listening to my record but only, like, whatever, about 25,000 have actually gone into a store and bought it, that's awesome." In general, she encourages free downloading of her work and sees it as the future of music.
    • There's also her infamous email where she claims she made $19,000 in 10 hours hawking merchandise via Twitter, but $0 from a month's CD sales of her major-label album.
  • Robin Pecknold, lead singer for the indie folk band Fleet Foxes, not only advocates file sharing but listened to most of his musical inspirations via Napster downloads.
  • A non-music example remarked on by Rock Paper Shotgun: the creator of McPixel caught people downloading it illegally from The Pirate Bay. Instead of trying to prosecute, he turned the torrents into a marketing tool, leaving comments and gift codes saying, "I am actually excited about this!" and "I am just one man making games for a living, so feel free to give me all your money if you like the game!" TPB's organizers picked up on it and modified their logo to resemble part of McPixel's.
  • The designers of Eclipse Phase offer free PDFs of their game modules on their personal blogs. And they seem to be Anarchists judging from their tendency to gush about the Anarchist faction in the game, who incidentally have no respect for copyrights (even the anarcho-capitalists).
  • There is a webserver hosting all of Rammstein's early work. When asked to take it down by various lawyers (several times a year), the owners respond with a personal letter from the band who allowed them to host it since long before they were as famous as they are now, and they are still fine with it.
  • On the Special Edition of Bon Jovi's These Days is a previously unreleased recording of "This Ain't a Love Song", live, recorded during the album's tour. Jon Bon Jovi introduces the song as follows: "I don't wanna go home yet. (cheering) ..we got a new record that's comin' out in a coupla weeks, err, is it OK I'd like to play ya something off the new album if that's cool. (begins to strum the guitar) [...] "All you bootleggers roll your tapes then, this is the first single it's called; This ain't a love song." However, Jon Bon Jovi averted this trope in later years when he started criticizing Steve Jobs for "killing music".
  • Charlie Brooker has said this in regards to Screenwipe within its first episode, stating how the show will never get a DVD release at all by virtue of its liberal usage of licensed music, film, and television clips.
    • He also encouraged people outside of the UK to torrent Black Mirror back before Netflix picked it up, as it was only available in Britain at the time.
  • Every album by every alias of Jonah Dempcy, with the exception of one collaborative single, has been released entirely for free.
  • Entertainment for the Braindead has also released everything for free.
  • All of the netbloc artists.
  • Mike Doughty encouraged the audience to steal his album Yes and Also Yes, and then burn copies for friends so they could steal it too. He did say, though, that buying it was also super-cool, since it helps pay his bills. His explanation being that he already has an established audience who he knows will always buy his music and attend concerts; he'd rather non-fans hear his stuff for free and then they can buy it later if they wish.
    • His solo debut, Skittish, became a Lost Episode after the label rejected it for not sounding enough like Soul Coughing, but a version of the album with six additional songs leaked under the name The Skittish Sessions. When Soul Coughing broke up and he started performing as a solo act, his set largely consisted of Skittish songs, and he was surprised to see audiences singing along to them - his response was to make white label CDs of the album with his preferred song sequence and mixes and start selling them at his shows.
  • Instead of providing a demo, the info page for In Flux instead links to a torrent so you can "Try Before You Buy" it. One developer even offered to upload a proper torrent if the linked one didn't work.
  • Jean-Michel Jarre encouraged his fans to record and bootleg his concerts and make remixes and covers of his music.
    • Hardly any of his concerts after 1990 got any official releases anyway, so it's not like there is material bootlegged that's also commercially available. In fact, thanks to the high quality of some of the bootlegs, Jarre doesn't have to go through the hassles of making official live albums and videos anymore. Also, with the exception of the Concert pour la tolérance 1995 (only released in France on LaserDisc) and Jarre In China 2004 (and this only thanks to massive fan intervention after the first release was cut to less than half the original length), no official Jarre concert release has ever been in full length and unedited, leaving fans discontent and complaining; unofficial bootlegs, in contrast, preserve the concerts as they really were and are more likely to satisfy the fans. And the "pirated" radio broadcasts of Jarre concerts with official releases make fewer fans beg for Jarre to re-release the latter uncut.
    • He even told them to bootleg one of his albums. However, that was Music For Supermarkets of which only one (1) record had been pressed and played on the radio once back in 1983, and the master tapes have been destroyed in order to make more copies impossible, so this was actually the only way for Jarre fans to obtain the album except for the guy who bought it at its auction for 65,000 Francs. Besides, the only way to pirate that album was to record it from AM radio where it was transmitted only once.
  • Machinae Supremacy has officially (and unofficially) released their music on The Pirate Bay and are proud supporters of file sharing. On-stage at MAGFest 2014, they even announced to members of the audience that if they haven't heard of them before, "don't worry, our music is on the Pirate Bay."
  • Goth punk band One-Eyed Doll have all of their music up for "pay-what-you-want" and have stated they don't mind at all if you don't pay anything for it. No torrents of their music exist (as why would they need to exist if their music can be downloaded for free from the source) but if they did, it clearly wouldn't matter to the band.
  • Scott Mitchell Putesky, also known as Daisy Berkowitz, the ousted co-founder of Marilyn Manson, not only often uploads old Spooky Kids demos for songs that he doesn't have the right for, but also has uploaded all the remastered versions of the songs he does have the rights for (which he won in a lawsuit). Marilyn Manson himself has silently approved of the uploading of the demos, as when Scott uses or releases stuff he doesn't approve of (namely, the Antichrist Superstar demo tape), he has it taken down and tells the main fanforum, Provider Module, to ban links to the stuff, and the time Scott used Manson's art on a Spooky Kids CD, he sued.
    • Additionally, Manson himself may have come up with the most absurd countermeasure to bootleg CDs. While normally he doesn't do anything, a few live CDs from his early days popped up a few years ago, so he bought them all and sells them himself now. They're even on Spotify.
    • It's believed that the leak of "The High End of Low" demos was actually done by Manson and Twiggy, especially since one of the songs has Arnold Schwarzenegger quotes edited into it for kicks. That said, he's not cool with people leaking songs before they're supposed to be out, or if they're not supposed to get out at all.
  • The author of Hero's Chains seeds a torrent of the first book. His stated opinion is that there's no difference between pirating his book and checking it out from a library.
  • Rob Swire of Pendulum and Knife Party fame encourages people to steal what they can't find on Beatport, mostly because he just wants people to be able to listen to his stuff.
  • Believe it or not, Billy Idol was the first mainstream artist to do this in 1998, releasing a song for free on an old mp3 site as a way to flip it to his label who screwed him over. Even better, said song was downloaded over 100,000 times on dial-up.
  • Kid Rock has this attitude, mainly because he realized that his live concerts make almost a hundred-fold more money than album sales.
  • When people on piracy websites started complaining that their copies of Hotline Miami were having problems, the game's developers created threads offering free tech support, figuring that leaving the pirates with a buggy product would just make them even less likely to buy it. This worked to some extent, as many of the pirates who got their issues solved purchased the game as thanks. Later, when the sequel Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number was banned in Australia, they encouraged Australian gamers to pirate it so they wouldn't miss out.
  • When talking to Reddit about the game, Cruis'n USA programmer Eric Pribyl said "Please download the arcade game and share with anyone."
  • Wilco streamed their fourth album on their website for free. It's because of this that it became such a commercial success.
  • Andrew McMahon of Jack's Mannequin has always been okay with bootlegs and pirating of his music, especially his older Something Corporate songs that weren't available on albums. His reasoning was that the fans would come out to see him and buy his music anyway and that the industry needed to start thinking outside the traditional means.
  • Fred Rogers, of all people, testified to the U. S. Supreme Court in favor of home video recording during a contentious case when the MPAA was arguing that personal recording devices like the VCR should be banned because they would kill the entire industry. Mr. Rogers simply stated the case that it would actually be beneficial to allow people to watch shows whenever was best for them. We all know how that turned out.
  • Neil Young openly admits he doesn't see a problem with it at all- in his eyes it's not stealing, it's merely an evolution of how radio used to function to get music out to the public.
  • Jim Sterling has zig-zagged this. They have endorsed piracy for some works...but will lapse into the Digital Piracy Is Evil when DRM-free games like World of Goo report 90% piracy rates or when a good number of people still pirate the Humble Bundle despite its low price.
    • To clarify: they're against it when the game in question is an indie game with no publisher that needs all the money it can get, but okay with it when the company who owns the IP is just a publisher and the money isn't going to the creator.
    • They also released a video named "Why It's Morally Okay To Pirate All Of Sony's Games", released shortly after Sony announced they were going to shutter the Playstation 3 and Vita's online storefronts later that yearnote , arguing that if Sony didn't want to make any money from legacy titles anymore, then you might as well pirate it.
  • In a similar vein to Jim, Ross Scott actively encourages piracy if the developers aren't getting any money from sales of the game, such as abandonware or disbanded teams. He was quick to endorse Night Dive Studios' re-vitalized release of Strife, though.
    Ross: I bet they wish I had made that Strife review after they did this, so I wasn't telling everybody to go download it for free, but I thought the game was headed for oblivion.
  • Froghand:
    • It's hard to start discussing where this begins with Froghand, but a good place is at the bottom of every page, with a clear public domain mark linking to the CC0 license (meaning anybody is free to use the work for any reason, as close to relinquishing copyright as you can get) and a Kopimi symbol, showcasing that the work is meant to be copied for any purpose.
    • Froge has repeatedly stated that he wants copyright abolished, such as at the alt text of the Kopimi symbol saying "Copy this website, abolish copyright".
      When you see somebody like me dedicate all their work to the public commons, even when individual practical sense says that I should have licensed it under something which would ensure me some stream of profit... it's because I care more about you than I do about me. I'll always find a way to survive, but when it comes to somebody who already has the privilege to survive and to enjoy their time alive, I don't want them to ever feel like they are doing something wrong, or have to be burdened with following arbitrary terms, or face the threat of somebody else telling them that they can't do something because somebody else doesn't like how they're using a thing that they made, and that's something I can't stand. That's why I want copyright, in blunt terms, dead. It damages everything that it touches.
    • Froge constantly recommends instances of remix culture, such as Simpsonwave and Vaporwave, Future Funk synced to music videos, and the Missionary Church of Kopimism for encouraging the copying of information.
    • Froge is also an avowed pirate, because he considers obeying copyright to be allowing corporate censorship, among other reasons.
      I recall an example in No Logo (an incredible depressing book you may wish to read) where companies would send out cease-and-desist letters to Web 1.0 webpages that used song lyrics on their websites. The owners of these pages, these little pieces of our culture, were teenagers trying to express their artistic vision, and had no infringing content on their sites at all. To assume that such companies care one bit about us, is a massive mistake to make, and the only way to stand up to such oppression is to not use the products of any enemy of culture, and especially not to buy from them (so basically pirate everything and you'll be fighting the man, man).
    • The article "It's because I'm black, isn't it?" talks about all the ills of proprietary software, and how it puts the company who owns the software in a position of power to manipulate and spy on their customers. The gist of the article is that no closed-source software can be trusted from both a security and a moral standpoint, as anybody who makes their software closed-source doesn't care about the user, and so shouldn't be patronised on principle. Naturally, if more software was free, then people wouldn't need to pirate.
    • The article BitTorrent for Babbys is a tutorial and rundown on how to use BitTorrent while reducing as much incriminating evidence as possible, blatantly recommending techniques to obscure pirated media. Although it borders on paranoia, given the example of copyright trolls sending indiscriminate letters to people using BitTorrent (to the point of implicating a printer), it may be justified.
    • Copyright goes against the notion of indulging in the culture it creates:
      It is our natural born rights to partake in the culture which we have created, our right to partake in the wonderful, wonderful creations that humanity has given us, and to never have it taken away from us. This is why I am so insistent on removing all copyright - it prevents people from being exposed to the culture that they have every right to be a part of, are prevented from indulging in it through whatever means they wish, and prevents them from developing a strong sense of community by freely associating and creating works with people who have been impacted by the same art they have. Copyright goes against the very idea of culture, and indeed, the very idea of the arts, by prevent art that was meant to be shared, from being shared.
    • More subtlely, Froge has referred to copyright as "copywrong" on occasion.
      If I was, for instance, somebody who hated art, fun, free culture, and the destruction of classism, I would be not a cunt, but a cunt who is upset that the service is used to distribute media files in a way where nobody can snoop the content unless they possess the key, causing passive surveillance to be difficult if not impossible. For somebody who isn't a cunt, and therefore is me, the principle of MEGA - protecting the privacy of its users for whatever reason, not just copywrong related ones, is a noble one that must be upheld in times where your government will arbitrarily search your files for fear of terrorists or the gays or whatever the meme is nowadays.
    • Less subtlely, Froge has called copyright a cancer, linking to a lecture dispelling the myths that copyright protects artists (in the humble opinion of the presenter, of course), and how it leads to a scenario where the most noticeable brands that are pushed onto the world are the ones which are least usable by the world, because of how aggressively they are protected by the companies which make them.
      Copyright is censorship, simply - it is not a tool used to protect artists, because artists don't need copyright to share their work and make a profit in both money and attention. It's a tool used by companies in order to stifle anything that might cost them a red cent, or to destroy dissenting opinions and use of their work, as is the case with the Royal Dutch Shell gripe site (archive), where the company wanted to censor opinions unfavourable to them. What copyright has done is ruin our culture by causing us to ask for permission from the very same companies that contribute to that culture, in order for us to endulge in our fundamental right to that culture. It's a malicious system set up by governments that have shown nothing but cowardice, failing to protect the rights of the individual in favour of maintaining the status quo of the oligarchy.
    • And then he lambasted Nintendo for continuing to adopt anti-piracy practices, which he considered to be a backwards way of thinking. Considering the notion of console exclusivity to be irrelevent in an age dominated by the personal PC, aggressively focusing on hardware gimmicks and dumbed-down software, he encourages people to hack into Nintendo products until their anti-consumer practices change.
      So long as game companies continue to show willful malice to their audience, it is necessary to reverse-engineer, emulate, and disseminate all games, consoles, and software that they release in order to create a culture that allows for sharing regardless of the company's consent - because the company that does not give consent for the consumers to do whatever they like with the products that they paid for, without limitation, is not a company that deserves to be bought from in the first place, with the exception that all products bought will eventually be used to preserve the freedom of the quiet majority which refuses to accept such malicious practices.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic:
    • He had released several songs on his website and encouraged fans to download them, including "Don't Download This Song", a song that completely mocks the whole Digital Piracy Is Evil attitude. The only real problem that seems to irk him is all the vulgar and profane novelty songs, that have been mistakenly linked to him as a result.
    • When a Australian fan had requested to have Weird: The Al Yankovic Story be available in their country on a Twitter AMA, Yankovic tweeted a coded response suggesting to look on BitTorrent indexes until Roku obtains the territorial distribution rights.
      Roku's working on it. In the meantime there's VPN (Very Probably No) way to watch it legally. I'm sure you have a TORRENT of other questions, but I have to move along, sorry.
  • The developer of Paradigm commented on a torrent of the game, saying he knows some people legitimately can't afford it and is happy they have a chance to play it anyway. He even included some free Steam keys in his comment.
  • J. J. Abrams has given his endorsement to the Despecialized Original Trilogy in an interview shortly before the release of The Rise of Skywalker.
  • Acid Wizard Studios themselves put their game, Darkwood, on The Pirate Bay, completely up-to-date, and encourage people that can't afford the game to torrent it Ė the only thing they ask in return is that when you have the money to pay for a copy, even if it's on a massive Steam sale, please buy it legitimately so they can keep developing games. They did this out of sympathy for a buyer that refunded the game on Steam because he didn't want the cost on the credit card to stress out his parents, and at the same time to yank the rug out from under the feet of key-reselling scammers that routinely ask creators and publishers for free keys to review their games then re-sell them on shady sites.
  • Brendon Urie, the frontman of Panic! at the Disco is apparently okay with pirating done by fans who can't afford to buy the music legitimately. When a fan sent him a message on Twitter, saying that they wanted to listen to the band's new single but couldn't afford to buy it off iTunes, Brendon sent them a reply instructing them to rip it from YouTube.
  • Death Grips have released a sizable chunk of their discography as free downloads, but the most notable example is No Love Deep Web, which they leaked themselves due a dispute with their label about its release.
  • Being the cheeky Brits that they are, British Telecom's Telecomsoft division through their Firebird label released Dont Buy This for the ZX Spectrum as a rather savage way of mocking independent developers who, despite their best intentions, submitted games deemed by the public to be abysmally subpar. The real kicker here is when they outright disowned all copyrights to the game, encouraging people to pirate them at will to further humiliate those who were unfortunate enough to have their submissions included in this satirical compilation.
  • Jim Davis gave Atari programmer Steve Woita (and by extension ROM sites) permission to distribute the unreleased Garfield game for the Atari 2600, which was to be released in 1984 if not for the The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, being that then-Atari boss Jack Tramiel wasn't that up to paying the royalties for the comic strip franchise while they were in dire straits. The only condition for this free release being that redistributed copies of the ROM should include a copyright notice from Paws, Inc. and that no reproduction cartridges or commercial re-releases can be made.
  • Due to the ongoing Dangen Entertainment controversy (which includes, among other things: Withholding games from being released, withholding pay from developers, and alleged abuse on the part of their CEO, Ben Judd), Sinoc, the director and lead developer of Devil Engine, explicitly encourages fans to pirate the game instead of buying it until the matter is resolved.
  • Shakira initially was on the other side of things, but later went on to say she is okay with fans pirating her music, as to her, it allows her to get closer to her fans.
  • Despite being an Acclaimed Flop, Swedish indie developer Crackshell gave Bulgarian cracker Voksi their blessing to release Serious Sam's Bogus Detour for free via the Revolt forums as part of an unusual marketing strategy to bolster sales of the game. The "officially-sanctioned" pirate edition, for the lack of a better word, is feature-complete and for the most part identical to the paid release, but has a small note at the bottom urging those who downloading it to consider purchasing the game.
  • In an interview with the Open Rights Group, Neil Gaiman said he thought piracy would boost sales. He compared it to lending somebody a book and that they would buy their own copy if they liked it.
  • Quadro Delta initially released the full game of Pixel Piracy as a torrent and incited people to download it.
  • When it was revealed that his comedy special Make Happy wouldn't be getting an official album version, Bo Burnham encouraged fans on Reddit to rip the audio of the Netflix special and make their own.
  • After HBO Max removed Infinity Train from their service and basically wiped it from existence everywhere else, creator Owen Dennis changed his Twitter biography to read "Creator of #InfinityTrain, a show that got pulled from @HBOMax and can now only be pirated."
  • Mitch Benn wrote a song called "Steal This Song", which claims he doesn't care if you copy it onto cassette, put it on the internet, or "change half the words and claim you wrote it".
    I'll never sue,
    I promise you,
    Because, you see, I stole it before you.
  • Running With Scissors of Postal fame is supportive of those who pirate their games so as long as they support RWS in any way they can, even going to far as to making a thinly-veiled reference to prominent warez repacker FitGirl. They do make it clear that they would not in any way give out links to where people can pirate their games, and those who do pirate their games do so at their own risk, not to mention that they also discourage people from pirating other indie developers' games especially as they do deserve the money anyway.

  • Microsoft was famous for saying, "If You're Going To Pirate Software, Pirate Ours." They zig-zagged between this and Digital Piracy Is Evil over the years, but since most of Microsoft's money comes from enterprise users and companies - the vast majority of whom wouldn't be dumb enough to pirate essential software - they've generally let it slide. In addition, Windows has gotten much more forgiving with what happens with unactivated Windows over the years, slowly sliding from "Locks you out of the computer entirely" in XP to "Removes some minor features and adds a watermark" from Windows 10 and onwards. Microsoft even has a free download for it on their website.
    • Also, after announcing that Windows 10 would be available as a free upgrade for all users of Windows 7 and 8, Microsoft later clarified that the offer applied to pirated copies as well - albeit still unactivated.
    • The company deliberately chose not to copy-protect its Microsoft Entertainment Pack series of casual games to promote the Windows platform itself just as it was gaining traction in the PC market with 3.x and most games were written for MS-DOS. Microsoft wanted to convince consumer that Windows wasn't just for businesses. Given the nostalgia that many people who used Windows computers in the '90s feel, when many of the games came pre-installed on new PCs, shows how successful this strategy is.
    • After the Xbox 360 became infamous for its high rate of piracy and modding, Microsoft responded in an interesting way for its successor, the Xbox One. On one hand they invested heavily in beefing up the new console's security, but they also included a semi-hidden 'Dev Mode', which for a one-time payment of $20 allows anyone to develop and install custom software to their consoles, effectively creating a way to legitimise homebrew creations and emulation. To this day the Xbox One's security has not been fully cracked simply because Dev Mode has removed much of the incentive to do so, and its successor in the Xbox Series X|S continues to include the Dev Mode feature.
  • Following the popularity of SiIvaGunner (a channel dedicated to making musical jokes under the guise of actual video game soundtrack rips, previously known as GiIvaSunner), many people became inspired to do their own take on the trend. However, in order to accurately recreate a track in its exact form (and then change the melodies and such), you need the original plugins/sample libraries/etc, which can be (and are most often) very expensive to buy (and, if dealing with old sample CDs, very difficult to legally acquire), so as a result the ethics and morality of piracy are often ignored in this regard.
  • WinRAR has a very liberal stance on piracy in that while users should pay for a license once the 40-day evaluation period is over, WinRAR CEO Burak Canboy stated in an interview that they don't mind about people not buying a license, as long as the free downloads do give them the publicity they needed which accounted for their massive userbase, and that said users won't end up using a cracked yet potentially tainted version floating around on the web. They make up for this by selling licenses to businesses who would be more than compelled to pay for a license due to legal concerns. In addition, a special version of WinRAR was released for Chinese markets which is completely free for personal use, mostly due to rampant software piracy in China which forced developers to adopt different business models.
  • Valve and Steam's Gabe Newell stated back in 2011 that piracy is always a service problem and not a pricing problem. In other words, restrictive and intrusive DRM and lack of easy video game availability leads to piracy.
  • Notch has said that he is OK with some people pirating Minecraft, and is a member of the Pirate Party
    • It helps that pirated copies can only play single player, or with each other, while the paid version can play with everyone, so the non pirated product is better.
    • This attitude does not reflect Mojang's official stance, however, especially since the new launcher for the game now checks to see whether or not you are a legit user. Of course, you can use a cracked launcher, but then you lose the ability to play with paying customers.
  • There is an "FBI Warning" at the beginning of almost every commercial VHS tape warning about the penalties for copyright infringement. One video tape released by the Insane Clown Posse instead began with an "ICP Warning" that basically said that since they stole the contents themselves, they don't care if you copy the video and can't do anything about it if you did.
    • When ICP released The Wraith: Shangri-La, they placed a disclaimer on their website saying they didn't care if you downloaded it, they just asked that downloaders listen to the songs in the listed order.
  • Christian rock band Relient K inverted this in the song Scene and Herd:
    Odds are that you probably
    magically got this song for free (heh)
    I'm not sure if it bothers me -
    it seems fine!
  • Quite early in the main rulebook for CthulhuTech, it gives you a short "If You Downloaded This Book" lecture, saying, in short, "If you like it, buy it, otherwise we'll likely go out of business". Several sourcebooks later, this seems to have worked.
  • After awhile, Bethesda pretty much ignored piracy of Arena and Daggerfall. Eventually, they made them full-fledged Freeware to Keep Circulating the Tapes.
    • This is actually the basic stance of a fair portion of the gaming industry — the allowing element for the more careful portions of the Abandonware community is that more than a few companies or market organizations have more-or-less openly said they don't actually care about piracy if the game is old enough and not sold (Bethesda is not one of those — they were quite clear they didn't want Arena or Daggerfall to be pirated).
  • Jonathan Coulton stated on his website that he doesn't mind people downloading his songs, although he would prefer if they at least donate some money for them when and if they can.
  • For the most part it seems the indie game makers don't mind piracy. When Giant Bomb discussed McPixel (see above), they noted that due to their smaller budgets most only need to sell a few thousand in order to turn a profit. As such, indie game makers are likely to view small amounts of piracy as a way to potentially spread the word about the game.
  • Disturbed has stated from time to time that, as much as Warner Music Group likes to make a fuss about it, the members of the band themselves don't care much about people downloading their songs.
    • Linkin Park has the same viewpoint. When Minutes to Midnight was leaked, their only response was to advise people to listen to the tracks in order and ask that they buy the album anyway for all the non-musical stuff they put into it.
  • Most tokusatsu creators, such as the Toei Company (Super Sentai and Kamen Rider), don't mind English-language fansubs of their work, since they've never really tried to market outside of East Asia, and Power Rangers has kind of guaranteed that Super Sentai won't ever get a foothold in North America or Europe anyway (similarly, Saban's Masked Rider and Kamen Rider Dragon Knight kind of left an adaptation of Kamen Rider stillborn for a long while.) Toei knows about the fansubbing communities, and will occasionally ask that something be taken down if a series gets an official release, but otherwise are indifferent or even possibly a little flattered that their work is getting respect outside of Japan. Uploading to YouTube is another bag of cats altogether - it's pretty common to see subs from their works, be they tokusatsu or anime, taken down from there.
    • Also, much of their revenue comes from toy sales, and people viewing fansubs means more people buying toys.
    • In general, the fansubbing community will take down their stuff if an actual release shows up, since this means they have won. Although given almost all official subbed releases are region locked to North America or the USA, this leads to Keep Circulating the Tapes for fans in other countries.
  • Roger Waters (formerly of Pink Floyd) doesn't mind fans who make and post videos of his The Wall 2012 shows. He only asked them not to whenever the show was being filmed for a DVD release. It wasn't because of piracy, but because the lights and flashes from their cameras would have a nasty effect on the projections.
  • When Animal Collective's album Strawberry Jam leaked and the band was asked about it, singer/drummer Panda Bear's response was: "The only thing we're really upset about with the leak is that it's only parts of it. I think there are six songs out there now. People aren't even able to get the full experience of the album, which bums us all out quite a bit. So if you're listening leakers, put up those other three songs, man, pronto."
  • Radiohead are well-known for their antiauthoritarian slant and focusing on experimentation and craft over appearing commercial-friendly, so it's not surprising that they generally don't mind piracy, at least in a business sense.
    • They're arguably the Trope Codifiers for "legal" digital distribution, releasing their 2000 album, ''Kid A' for streaming from their website before its official release.
    • Their 2003 album, Hail to the Thief was leaked by a third party before its release, which angered the band... not because it lost them revenue, but because they hadn't set the final mix yet, and that what had been circulated was an incomplete product.
    • Their 2007 album, In Rainbows, was famously released for sale online on a "pay-what-you-want" system, enabling fans to download it for free should they choose. There was a myriad of reasons for this move, with likely the most relevant being that based on the decline of physical media sales, piracy was on the rise anyway, so they might as well play into it in a way where they'd still be directly engaging with their audience (though they've since indicated that they will not pursue the model further).
    • When bootlegs of early live performances of Kid A songs made their way to the internet, the members of the band were both surprised and pleased when fans at concerts already knew the words to these new songs that had only been played once or twice previously. Colin Greenwood told a BBC reporter:
      Colin Greenwood: we played in Barcelona and the next day the entire performance was up on Napster. Three weeks later when we got to play in Israel the audience knew the words to all the new songs and it was wonderful.
    • The band has not only approved but contributed audio masters to two different fan filmed concert DVDs, provided they not be sold for profit.
  • Radiohead may have popularised the method, but Massive Attack were the first band to host their upcoming album Mezzanine on their website for free, in 1998.
  • Carpe Fulgur has credited pirates with boosting the sales of Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale, due to people who "have been 'demoing' the game and then purchasing it".
  • Devin Townsend has said on his Twitter feed that he's not really bothered by people pirating his music because he still gets support from people who want him to continue performing music, which he regards as "a good job we're damn lucky to have. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I write music for ME because it's what I LOVE. And if it ever turns around financially, great... Why the hell would you want to be a musician if having people listen is so conditional? Support if you want, it costs a lot, but I luv it."
  • Before Simon Viklund released an official soundtrack for the video game PAYDAY: The Heist, a few people ripped music from the game and uploaded them online. After the soundtrack became official, Simon did not mind that his music was uploaded to other sites and believes that those versions acted as previews to his work and people would still buy his soundtrack if they liked it enough.
  • After learning their 2005 album Z was bundled with malware to prevent copy protection courtesy of their label, indie rockers My Morning Jacket provided tips on their website on how to circumvent it, and offered to burn copies of the album free of copy protection for fans that wanted them.
    • Christian alt-rock band Switchfoot had a similar reaction when Nothing is Sound came with the infamous Sony rootkit on its original release. Tim Foreman made a post on the band's website detailing how to work around the rootkit... which their label removed. Jon Foreman later felt the album's sales were tainted by the whole fiasco; the band would eventually leave Sony and move to their own label, distributed through Atlantic Records.
  • Streetlight Manifesto doesn't care if you buy the album from them or torrent it, they just don't want their record label getting any money. Frontman Tomas "Toh Kay" Kalnoky talks about it here.
  • One of the DVD commentaries for Family Guy has the staff take a friendly jab at people who illegally downloaded the DVD, saying "For the people who illegally downloaded this DVD, you little peckers, we know where you are!"
  • Maid RPG encourages people who pirated the PDF to try the game out, and if they like it, to buy it and support the translator.
  • RiffTrax often appends a message on movie riffs stating essentially that if somebody's watching the riff on the Internet or on some other format without having paid for it, they're encouraged to donate something to the site through the donate page. This isn't couched in terms of "you have to make restitution for what you stole you dirty thieves" so much as "we want to have the same 'keep circulating the tapes' ethic we had with MST3K, but we do like eating and paying our mortgages as well..."
  • In Freedom Planet, a hidden, unused message can be found in the game's audio files where Lilac and Carol acknowledge the game was being pirated (according to Torque's radar). They outright say to the player that they're "not in trouble" and they have no problem letting them enjoy the game, but they do ask the player to consider donating money to the developers to support them. This is the message when assembled.
  • Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates from Avenged Sevenfold have made comments in favour of downloading music. Papa Gates (Syn's father) is in disagreement with his son on that, though.
  • Little Mix seem to be fans of this trope, although their management disagree, for obvious reasons.
  • Taylor Swift veers between this and Digital Piracy Is Evil at times, although it may be a case of The Man Is Sticking It to the Man (at least in her case, anyway), although this has proven controversial. It didn't help when claims were made that Taylor had an account at The Pirate Bay, although this may just be an Urban Legend of The New '10s. Officially, though, we don't have Word of God on this, having to rely on a comment on The Register which is possibly a hoax or Urban Legend.
    • As of 2015, she's had a falling out with Spotify and Apple Music. Namely, she doesn't like it when artists are not adequately compensated for their work, and initially pulled her music from those services until she got a better deal. Swift was satisfied enough by Apple's deal that she made her album 1989 an exclusive to that service; Spotify didn't get the album until nearly three years after its release. She has also stated in an editorial that while she does not believe music should be free, she also disagrees with the notion that digital piracy and other disruptive technologies will doom the industry.
  • Miley Cyrus made it clear as well that she really didn't care when asked about people downloading her music illegally or streaming it for free through iTunes or Spotify etc.
    Miley: "I've made my money. If no one buys my album, cool. I've got a house, and I've got dogs that I love. I don't need anything else."
  • Blake Swift (Aka ShadyVox) of Scratch21 has said that he hopes that those who pirate his music enjoy it and he has no plans to try to stop them, but only a small amount pirate his music since he releases his music so cheap and makes a good living because of it.
  • Armin Van Buuren has been very supportive of streaming services and although he's stated that fans should support artists through paying for the music, he also has criticized the industry for not embracing new ways for reaching out to prospective new listeners. It probably helps that his (and many other DJs for that matter) chief income comes from concerts and the festivals he plays at.
  • Peter Gabriel isn't exactly supportive of people downloading free music, but he feels that the massive lawsuits over it should end and that legal music distribution needs a serious overhaul.
  • Doug Walker mentioned Christian Rock Hard in a list of his favourite South Park episodes. He backed up most of its points, saying that bands should play music because they enjoy it and will still make a fortune in concert tickets and merchandise sales.
  • John Carmack, formerly of id Software, has gone on record stating that he can't be too angry about software piracy in part because he himself had pirated games in his youth, joking that he still owes money to people like Richard Garriott.
  • If Just Shapes & Beats detects that you're playing a pirated copy, it starts off by sarcastically informing you that "DOWNLOADING! PIRATED! GAMES! IS STEALING! duh duh duh STEALING! IS AGAINST! THE LAW!" The voice is then revealed to be that of Lachhh from the development team, who understands if the player pirated the game, admits he himself pirated games as well as a child because he didn't have the money to buy his games either, and only asks that you spread word of the game, the rationale being that if more people know about the game, some of those people who do have money will buy it.
  • 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.
  • In a rather cheeky and surprising move, Warhorse Studios took notice of the pirated scene release of Kingdom Come: Deliverance by CODEX and in 2020 released a series of metal poster prints taken verbatim from the NFO files CODEX included with their KCD release. Income from said posters goes to the developers as stated in their tweet, and it was also seen by some as an ironic stunt on part of Warhorse as they effectively pirated the NFO file presumably without permission from the pirates themselves.
  • A variation: The tracks on t+pazolite's album without Permission can be put in rhythm games without having to ask for permission, much less pay for a license, as long as the developer agrees to the terms listed.
  • While PlatinumGames didn't outright tell people to steal their latest game, their reaction to Sega delaying the release of Anarchy Reigns outside of Japan by 6 months for no reason other than to try ensure that it would have less competition in their opinion and the fact that they didn't even bother notifying Platinum of their decision ahead of time, something that would greatly fracture the playerbase due to its heavy online nature even though the game was already fully complete and translated, they posted a notification on their homepage that the game has no region coding and the Japanese version already includes a localized translation for English and other languages, letting people know that they could safely import the game and play it that way without having to pointlessly wait for another 6 months due to Sega's boneheaded decision: sure enough, when the game was ultimately released elsewhere officially, its online modes were much more barren that would've been normally expected, which was especially bad since a number of game modes required a large number of players and there was no option to use bots as a replacement for human players.
  • K. A. Applegate: In 2011, when the Animorphs books were still out of print, she stated she had no objection to people continuing to circulate them as free ebooks. She would've preferred to have them officially available for sale in ebook form, but it wasn't something Scholastic was actively doing at the time.
  • When asked about Game of Thrones being widely pirated, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes expressed his optimism towards illegal file sharing. While he certainly wouldn't outright offer the series for free, he opined that the widespread recognition the series earned through piracy is "better than an Emmy." The show was HBO's most pirated series, but its first season was the best-selling DVD of 2012.
  • When Dana Terrace shared a screenshot of an episode of The Owl House, fans noticed that it contained a watermark from, a popular site for pirating the show, which lead to them believing that Dana must've pirated her own show. She admitted to the deed as soon as it was pointed out, stating that she didnít have cable and the episode wasnít available elsewhere at the time.
  • brentalfloss engaged in a piracy-based prank around the release of his second album, Bits of Me. When the CD was briefly delayed from its official release date due to production/distribution issues, Brent — realizing that early MP3s of the songs would begin getting circulated by pirates before people received their pre-orders — decided to beat them to the punch by uploading a fake version of the album on several torrent sites. In this pirated version, all of the songs start as normal before being suddenly derailed by Brent and his friends, making fun of the listener for not paying for the album, then filling up the remaining runtime with whatever nonsense they feel like doing, such as Doug Walker singing public domain tracks with "a god-awful Randy Newman impression", or Brent's girlfriend going on a bizarre lecture about applying makeup using home construction equipment.
  • Ian Gillan of Deep Purple fame doesn't mind bootlegging of concerts by fans who already bought tickets and associated merchandise, but he'd understandably balk at the idea of pirating their music and considers it as theft plain and simple: "I would like to strip them of their romantic name. Let them fly under their true colours. They are not pirates, they are thieves, and their tainted offerings have bad Karma."
  • OK Go frontman Damian Kulash has stated that, while he doesn't necessarily encourage piracy of his band's music, he is strongly against anti-consumer measures that punish legal buyers of music. In 2005, major labels including EMI (which his band was signed to, through their Capitol subsidiary) experimented with putting Copy Protection on CDs, something that angered him enough to speak out against the measures and negotiate the band's Oh No album to be released without it in the United States. It's been said that the album's Hidden Track, which is a 34-minute recording of Kulash's girlfriend having a nap, was inserted as a last-minute move to ensure the CD wouldn't have any space left for DRM; this has never been 100% confirmed to be the reasoning for its inclusion, but it's not an unlikely reason given the aforementioned info.

  • K.K. Slider from Animal Crossing personally gives out bootleg copies of his songs after performing them, having a clear hatred for his record label and "selling out" in general. In the earlier games, this is actually the only way to obtain then, but even in Animal Crossing: New Horizons where you can buy them he still hands out free copies after concerts.
  • An issue of She-Hulk featured a cyborg shoplifting. The New Warriors showed up to catch her but couldn't believe she had broke in just to steal music albums, telling her instead to download them.
  • In Metal Saga, you can "illegally download" music from jukeboxes around the world, and nobody seems to care. Justified in that the people have more important things to worry about, such as all the assorted robots, monsters, and deadly criminals wandering what's left of the world.
  • On a episode of CSI the Kid Rock like musician played by Kid Rock has his next album leaked by one of his staffers. This placed him at number one on the suspect list, until he proved that the staffer leaked it on his own orders. A leaked album means more tickets sales.
  • In the last episode of Battle Programmer Shirase, the narrator thanks the viewers of Japan and the viewers overseas who were illegally downloading the show.
  • The South Park episode "Christian Rock Hard" has Stan, Kyle, and Kenny, upon being told by the FBI that Digital Piracy Is Evil, start a strike that is supported by several high profile musicians like Metallica and Britney Spears. After the strike goes nowhere and Cartman's band proceeds to sell a million albums, they realize how senseless it was. The boys conclude that real musicians should create music for the sake of creativity and the satisfaction of having fans should be more important than money. Plus, people will always find a way to obtain the songs for free and even then, bands can still make a lot of money from touring and merchandising. Ultimately, it's better to lean into it than try to fight it.
  • In Shadowrun, all the point of view characters are Shadowrunners who have no problem pirating entertainment because it's all megacorp produced anyway. One 4th Edition sourcebook had Fastjack talking with the other characters about how he'd recently tried, just for the hell of it, to pay for and download a movie legally instead of pirating it like he normally did. The excessive amount of DRM that the megacorp had put on it meant that it took far longer than the movie was before he could even watch it. His conclusion was that when you make it harder to get something legally than illegally, then naturally it left people with little incentive to do things the legal way. And that the middle management idiots responsible for making it so hard to watch a movie you've already paid for should be punched in the junk.
  • The Kaiju Preservation Society: The KPS is specifically allowed to share downloaded media freely at their Kaiju Earth bases, to help the teams deal with the stresses of a six-month tour of duty on a Death World.
  • In Transhuman Space, this is the basic concept behind "infosocialism", a political movement that opposes copyright enforcement based on socialist theory. The development of this into "nanosocialism", which became the dominant power in the Transpacific Socialist Alliance, has resulted in the TSA being seen as a "pirate's paradise" in the WTO countries. The game itself avoids expressing an opinion on any of this, just saying that these are the things some people in the setting believe.
  • This strip of xkcd explains how even if you do buy online music legally, you could still end up as much of a criminal as someone who pirated their music, thanks to the DMCA. This information in that strip regarding iTunes having DRM protection on its songs is outdated, as acknowledged by a later strip. Furthermore, it actually points towards a flaw in the DRM (i.e. inability to move the file to a new system) rather than anything else.


Video Example(s):


Infinity Train

Geoff describes how Infinity Train was such a massive victim of the purging of animated content at the hands of Warner Bros. Discovery, describing how its content is irrecoverably lost, its physical media stopped printing, and even its creator encouraging piracy.

How well does it match the trope?

4.98 (47 votes)

Example of:

Main / ScrewedByTheNetwork

Media sources: