It was a clever name, at least in the beginning. Hijacked movies, music, games, even books — yeah, it’s the outlaws taking from the establishment, creating some wealth for the common man, yada yada. But in recent weeks, as real-life pirate attacks have gained in intensity, violence, and geopolitical meaning, talking about digital thieves as pirates has come to seem clever to a fault, and inaccurate too.
Even for the Pirate Bay guys — about to learn their legal fate in a Swedish court — there aren’t many parallels between what they do and what the Somali marauders do. Not much use of force; no gunshots; and most of all, no ransom demands. The reason so many people are so interested in ocean piracy is that it’s a weird, complex, and long-lived problem; digital piracy, meanwhile, isn’t much more than clever thievery.
So should we rename it? Neither “e-theft” nor “d-theft” (for “electronic” and “digital,” respectively) are any good; they’re too bland and too broad. Maybe “dobbery,” as in digital robbery? Eh. Suggestions, please.