Yarr, he stole my song!
by Simon Thompson on September 20, 2013 - 11:55pm
As a student and young adult, who may or may not use the Internet for less-than-legal reasons, I am concerned by the storm of controversy surrounding the subject of Internet piracy. I try to keep myself up to date on worldwide news about the legal ramifications of things such as peer-to-peer sharing. It was during one of my searches that I stumbled across an article, written earlier this year, about a new system put in place in the United States of America. This system, called the Copyright Alert System, was the Center for Copyright Information's newest method of mitigating piracy on the web. It does so by sending infringement notices to people who are suspected of peer-to-peer sharing. If the notices are ignored, then internet service providers have the right to take "mitigating actions" as they see fit. American web surfers are complaining that the recent push in anti-piracy laws is motivated by greed, pointing out that the Center for Copyright Information is owned by companies such as Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable. On the other hand, major companies denounce Internet pirates as criminals who steal from artists and content producers, effectively crippling the industry. This leads to ask:
Should Internet piracy be considered stealing, not only in the USA but across the world?
My point of view, and that of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is that piracy should not be considered stealing. Before widespread use of the Internet, music and movies were shared between friends or burned onto CDs and no big deal was made over that. Since the popularization of peer-to-peer sharing through sites such as uTorrent, sharing music skyrocketed from a few friends to millions of downloaders. It's only now that companies a decrying the free sharing of content as morally wrong, which shows that their underlying motive might be related to a loss in profits. Licensing companies are feeling a loss of control over their industry and are trying to bully common citizens into respecting their absolute authority over the media industry. Unfortunately, no method has so far proven to be even remotely effective at stopping Internet piracy, and the Copyright Alert System is no exception. It would be good for the major firms to realize that in order to stay on top of things, they have to respect the autonomy of its clients and adapt to the new age of media.
On the other hand, companies and artists blame the peer-to-peer sharers for cutting into their profits and stifling growth. Since pirates don't pay for content which would normally be sold for money, pirating is stealing and stealing is against the law. Artists who take their profession seriously and dedicate their lives to it depend on a steady income from sales. With a continuous rise in pirated content being linked to a decrease in online and in-store sales, it is getting harder and harder for fledgeling content creators to rise to success through the traditional means. Peer-to-peer sharers are putting their own desires in front of the financial well-being of artists and companies, using the safety found in anonimity to freely download whatever they want, when they want. Peer-to-peer networks should not be allowed to monetize the distribution of free content, because doing so boils down to indirectly stealing money from the original creators and taking advantage of people in such a way is wrong.
Do you think that companies should be allowed to control the flow of content on the web, or should they adapt to the times and invent a new way?