Shiver me timbers?

‘Do you mean to tell me you have made it all the way here (Manchester airport railway station) from suburbia (my home station within Greater Manchester) without a ticket, and now you want to buy one?’ Yes, that was what I wanted, despite the incredulous tone (I’m being polite here) of the member of staff at the airport. ‘Why?’ he asked. I replied something along the lines of it being an offence to travel without a ticket. He sold me a ticket, while shaking his head in disbelief over my stupidity.

My ‘fare dodging’ doesn’t end there. I gave up volunteering to buy tickets on the train after a guard got annoyed with me for asking him to sell me one (before he was ready for it!). So with that attitude from rail staff, I only buy when the ticket office is open, or the guard is volunteering to take my money, or it is easy to get to some kind of ticket sales at my destination. I reckon any fares not paid for, roughly correspond to the times when I have been overcharged. (Yes, I am thinking of you, the vicious female guard on the East Midland train. And a few others. But you stand out in my memory.)

So, always having been scrupulously keen on paying my dues, I have relaxed slightly. But I still want to pay. It’s just that sometimes the payees are not clued up to what customers want.

As I was saying only the other day, we are many who want products and are willing to pay for them. Clothes for fat people will continue being a problem, because they don’t exist (in any great numbers). But music and films and television programmes have been made. They are just not available to all prospective customers.

I wouldn’t dream of stealing/downloading/or whatever else you want to call it, if things were there to be bought, irrespective of where I live. In fact, I’m so old that I haven’t quite got the hang of this thing about music being downloaded illegally, thereby removing income opportunities from the musicians. I buy a CD when I want music.

And I would love to buy certain old films on DVD, were it not for the fact that no one has deemed these old things worthy of DVD-ness, so there is none to buy. Younger people have hinted that you can download such items on the internet. Is that really stealing? When you want to buy, but can’t? If the elderly film in question had been shown on television, I could easily have recorded it. For free.

The same goes for the television series that are first shown in their country of origin. And only there. So, others can’t watch – yet – because they are in the wrong place. They are not even necessarily of the wrong nationality, just not in the country where the programme was made. People can wait and hope it will come to their part of the world. Often it does. Often after a long wait. Sometimes not at all.

You can buy the DVD, eventually. But possibly only the wrong region DVD. Clearly people must be punished for being in the wrong place with the wrong equipment. Except, there could be more money for those who made it, if they weren’t so blinkered.

Those in the ‘right’ country can record the programme and send it to friends in the wrong country. I don’t know if that’s illegal, if they don’t do it for money. How much more convenient to download. And how much more legal and pleasant for everyone if payment for this was accepted. You can often buy/download already broadcast episodes on amazon, without waiting for the season to end and the subsequent DVD. As long as you live in the right country.

If something is eventually going to end up ‘everywhere,’ why not do it all at the same time, everywhere? And if it isn’t destined for all corners of the world, why not?

I’ve been permitted to ‘like’ a popular American television series on Facebook, despite living in the wrong part of the world. However, when they post clips to whet fans’ appetites for the next episode or to offer cast interviews, you soon find out you’re a second class fan.

Take YouTube, where they keep removing stuff all the time. I wouldn’t dream of using it to replace music I could buy. But when searching for obscure things it’s quite handy. And it’s excellent for ‘illustrating’ blog posts about all manner of topics. Except as soon as a video is removed, my search is on for a replacement.

Piracy isn’t all about disreputable people wanting to cheat. It’s about fans who care tremendously about something they can’t get hold of ‘legally.’ Give us the goods, and we’ll give you the money!


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