A bit of history to give some perspective on our modern issue of piracy (music and movies):

A few centuries ago, the penalty for unauthorized copying was breaking on the wheel. It is a term we’re not very familiar with these days, but it was a form of prolonged torturous death penalty where the convict first had every bone in his body broken, and then was weaved into the spokes of a wagon wheel and set up on public display. The cause of death was usually thirst, a couple of days later.

Back then the issue was duplicating popular fabric patterns. Yes, that was really a thing. And note that this didn’t happen to only a handful of offenders. Sixteen thousand people suffered this fate. Over fabric patterns.

The brutality of our forebears never fails to amaze me.

But it’s the end result of this practice that I find the most fascinating:

Capital punishment didn’t even make a dent in the pirating of the fabrics. Despite the fact that some villages had been so ravaged that everybody knew somebody personally who had been executed by public torture, the copying continued unabated at the same level.

I guess some things never change.

And When Even The Death Penalty Doesn’t Deter Copying — What Then?