Stealing From Mickey

By Griffin Boswell

We came, we saw, we stole it without paying a dime. Sorry Disney, but ye be in pirate waters now. The highly anticipated release of Disney+’s exclusive new show The Mandalorian was reportedly pirated “within three hours” after going live on Disney+. Simon Trudelle, director of anti-piracy services at content security firm NAGRA, warned that “all valuable content is at risk.” However, the Walt Disney Company’s net income of 2019 was 10.44 billion U.S. dollars, they are far from being at financial risk.

Pirated cuts of The Mandalorian have surfaced all over the web on video platforms, where pirated copies of movies and TV shows can be viewed for free until taken down. Navigating the murky waters of the site to avoid misleading ads and viruses can be troublesome, but if done correctly, you’ll be sailing under blue skies and watching your favorite TV show for free. While Disney has been quick to crack down on these illegal versions of their content, the “Robin Hoods” of the Internet have continued to distribute torrent links to the general populace. “Imagine giving money to giant mega corporations if you don’t need to, couldn’t be me,” said a digital privateer under the username The_Dark_Jedi_Knight. The user boasts that he has distributed torrented links (privately shared pirated media) of both episodes one and two of The Mandalorian to people online, and plans to do the same with every following episode. I for one, believe this is a core piece of the Internet that no company, no matter how big, will ever be able to destroy. While students who pay for a subscription may disagree with the ethics behind digital piracy, I suspect their minds would change if those fees were coming out of their pockets rather than their parents.

This trend of pirating new content is nothing new, but the mass distribution to the public is not something that typically occurs. Given that the act of piracy is illegal, distributing it online labels you an easy target, so that begs the question: why do it?

I believe that the answer is this: the Star Wars community feels that they’ve been cheated by a greedy mega-corporation, and want to “rebel” - for lack of a better word. “I’m not gonna pay them more money for the only actually good Star Wars they’ve made,” said a Star Wars fan under the username VenkuSkirata. Star Wars used to have an animated TV show in the form of Star Wars: The Clone Wars -- before Disney took over. Six whole seasons of content were released, and none of it was locked behind an exclusive paywall like Disney has done with The Mandalorian.

Do I see that releasing content for free is throwing money down the drain? Of course, but their choice to put The Mandalorian exclusively in Disney+instead of a TV streaming service they already own like Hulu is a blatant sign of Disney’s familiar pattern of milking franchises for all the money they’re worth, shamelessly. One might say “well they’re ending the Star Wars saga with Rise of Skywalker right?” yeah I’ll see you in 2020 at “Star Wars: A New-er Hope”. Needless to say, Disney will eventually take over the world, it’s inevitable and we all know it’s going to happen. So for the time being, come join our merry band of content privateers, and save that money for the next time you cut class to go to Panera.

Graphic by Molly Busis.