Boxing promoter Dean Lonergan sounds determined to find and bill the "lowlifes" who put Joseph Parker's big fight online for free. A spokeswoman for Sky television, which had bought the sole right to screen the event and charged its subscribers an additional $50 to watch it, says it is able to track illegal live-streaming and it also planned to take action. Both may be bluffing but good luck to them.

Those who found a free feed of the fight probably felt very pleased with themselves, even righteous about what they had done. The internet has bred a curious sense of entitlement to practically anything that can be found there.

That knowledge that those involved in its production need to make money from it seems to heighten the justification. They tell themselves the pay per view charge was too much, which it was not. A $50 fee was perfectly reasonable, reflecting the value of an event which turned out to be more gripping than perhaps the free viewers had expected when they had the chance to buy the feed.

More important, the fee would have reflected the sum Sky paid to Parker and his promoters, Lonergan's company Duco, who in turn had to provide Parker's opponent with the sum required to put up a contest of this calibre.

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If Duco and its young boxer had a big payday, they are in a business where they have to work long and hard for it. Those who watched for nothing will not want to think about the months of training Parker has put in, they prefer to think it is the business behind him they are ripping off.

They should pause to wonder where he would be without a business behind him. Readers of the Weekend Herald will know it was Lonergan who saw Parker's potential and put him under the tutelage of Kevin Barry to develop the discipline, techniques and temperament of a professional.

Those who managed to watch without paying on Saturday night put all this at risk. If it is impossible to prevent this "theft", as Sky rightly calls it, pay per view subscriptions will fall, television will not pay as much for the rights, events of this nature will not happen in New Zealand. The promoters will find other things to do and talented young Kiwis will have no hope of a world title.

Ultimately, even on the internet, we will get what we pay for. If we are not going to pay to watch professional sports, movies or music recordings, these things eventually will cease to be produced. Their producers have to eat. Probably everybody realises this, but the free lunch on the internet is of a scale that makes individual honesty seem insignificant and pointless. Everybody is doing it and it is not going to change.

The most troubling argument made in defence of those who stole the property of Sky, Duco and Joseph Parker is that the thieves would not have paid for it anyway, therefore nobody would have been any better off. That will be the self-justification of free riders on public transport and any other service that is not consumed by use. Somebody has to pay for these things if they are to survive. Those who provide expensive pleasure should pursue the parasites with vigour.

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