The Name Fits

- by Patricia McLinn

A friend Tweeted recently, saying “illegal downloaders/pirates SUCK. That is all.”

I absolutely agree with the first sentiment. And, sure, the Tweeter meant “That is all” as a sign-off, but in its other sense, it’s not all. Not anywhere close to being all.

A blog I posted here in January  about trying to pull the monetary plug on at least one site made me realize that. First, that it’s the old pulling one noodle out of a bowl of spaghetti – overcooked, gummy, sticky spaghetti – to try to track down the people responsible. Second, that the sites claim they’re not responsible, the posters do their dark deeds anonymously, and — when challenged — scuttle off like cockroaches when the lights go on, only to reappear in some new dark corner provided by sites who claim – everyone say it together – they’re not responsible.

There was a third frustration in writing that blog and the follow-ups: What the heck to call the cockroaches and their irresponsible sites.

Infringers on copyright?

Sounds rather like a craft activity, doesn’t it? Knitting, crocheting, tatting, infringing.

Violators of intellectual property?

Violators has a measure of strength. But the power

peters out over the next eight syllables. Not to mention that some folks immediately stop caring when they hear/read the word “intellectual.”


As someone on NincLink mentioned some time back (I would tell you who and when if I a.) had a fantabulous memory or b.) could find it in Yahoo archives) the word pirate raises images of swashbuckling Errol Flynn, oddly appealing Johnny Depp or even puffy shirted Jerry Seinfeld rather than of murdering, hygiene-challenged thieves.

So, what’s the right word? Writers know how important the right word is. I thought. I struggled. I pulled garlic-mustard weeds.

Then it hit me:

Not pirates. Parasites.

Parasites – that’s the right word.
According to Wikipedia, in parasitism “one organism, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the host.”

Does that ring true or what?

The parasite exploits the host in order to exist. The parasite sucks its sustenance from the host, and in the process depletes the host, sometimes killing it.

Sound familiar?

According to the Cambridge online dictionary, a parasite is “a person who is lazy and lives by other people working.”

Plus, there’s the major ick factor of parasites. Just the word makes you squirmy – exactly the response appropriate for cockroaches. And, finally, look at the two photos – which one is more appropriate for illustrating these people infringing on our copyrights, violating our intellectual property, pirating our work?

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding – we have a winner!



  1. Parasites — the perfect description. Wish this brand of parasite were as easy to deal with as the ones that infest my dogs now and then.

  2. Oh, yes. Wouldn’t it be nice to take a pill or apply a topical once a month and mostly prevent these parasites!

  3. Most countries in the third world never respects intellectual property rights. piracy is so rampant in asian countries.*;:

  4. intellectual property is not really respected in most countries in asia where piracy is so rampant.:-’