After a childhood in Bulgaria with “little access, if any, to high quality western cultural content,” Bozhan Chipev credits piracy with helping him achieve equality:
I pirated the shit out of western culture. Star Wars, The Shawshank Redemption, Half-Life, Nirvana, Adobe Creative Suite – I did it all. At a time and place where knowledge of western languages was the most precious asset and the state educational system was heavily lagging behind, I learned English at quite a decent level, at the cost of no more than my internet connection. To add to that, I acquired skills in using specialized software for design and video production, as well as knowledge about peer-to-peer networks. … Just as Lawrence Liang points out in his article “Beyond Representation: The Figure of the Pirate”, piracy accomplished for me all the things the state and the educational system could not.
Many westerners have scolded me when I’ve told stories of the obscene amounts of music, movies and software I have pirated. What they fail to understand is that I used this mode of distribution for the lack of any realistic access to an alternative. In some cases, a given movie would never even come to cinemas or air on TV. Some bands would never sell their CDs in local stores. And obtaining a legal Adobe Creative Suite would have meant selling most of my organs.