Digital piracy. This is my collective term for all that is digitally copied, stolen, ripped, recorded and burned for the expressed purpose of not having to pay for it otherwise.
Would you believe that the first time I really heard about pirating movies came from a 1996 episode of Seinfeld in which a guy was recording movies right out of the theatre with a camera? I was only 14, but what an eye-opener! Who would have ever thought that the Internet would come along and produce so many ways to get these pirated movies? I can honestly admit that I’ve never downloaded a pirated film and in fact, the first time I ever had one in my possession what 2 days ago when my roommate’s friend brought over Iron Man 2.
There I am, holding a copy of Iron Man 2 and on the tv is a commercial showing the trailer for the same film that just came out in the theatres a few days ago. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see what kind of quality this dvd could possibly have. Within the first minute, I was reminded of that Seinfeld episode. I could hear people in the theatre laughing, the screen was a little skewed (because the camera was off-center) and the sound was coming from a tin can. I couldn’t even bring myself to watch it.
It seems as though any film you want can be had just by downloading it from any of your favorite torrent sites or file sharing networks. In some cases (Xmen), a copy of a film might have been stolen right from the studio and released before the first commercial ever comes out! What is going on out there??
It’s estimated that millions of dollars and thousands of jobs are lost every year due to the theft of movies, but an argument could be made that the real loss is only on dvd and Blu-ray sales. I say this because I’m sure a great majority of people who download movies while they’re in the theatre probably weren’t going to spend the $12 to see it anyway, so all they’re really doing is bypassing the eventual $20 dvd purchase.
If you want an album, just download it. Don’t want to pay $9.99 for it on iTunes? Use LimeWire. Statements like this are becoming part of our everyday conversations among friends. What happened to going down to the music store and dropping $12 for a cd? What happened to the days when all your friends each had their own original copy of the same album? Well, technology happened.
Disc burners came out in 1992 and for about $995, you could ask your friends to borrow all of their cds to make copies for yourself. From there on out, the snowball grew. We were still far from accessing music online, but the idea that we could now buy cds, copy them and sell them used to get some of the initial investment back blew our minds!
Artists and record labels blame technology and piracy on the dwindling sales of cds. Of course these claims are true, but how can it be stopped? If back in the old days, your friend could borrow your cd, technically he was stealing too, right? I mean if he got to share the enjoyment of the same music without having to buy the disc himself, isn’t that loss recorded as well? Sharing music files is the same premise with two notable exceptions: 1. The “borrowing” process doesn’t take away from the original owner and 2. The “borrowing” timeframe has been extended to…forever.
Software piracy is probably the granddaddy of them all. The copying and sharing of software goes way back to the very first computers. In fact, it was actually condoned! Sharing is how software creators got to learn new things to improve whatever it was they were working on. Today, however, with 99% of all software being developed by for-profit corporations, this has all changed.
People now share software to avoid paying high prices. It was thought at one time that Adobe PhotoShop was the most sought after pirated software (not counting Microsoft Windows), but isn’t it ironic that Adobe themselves actually said they’re not concerned with it!
Let me clarify this. There was an article about how easy it is to take a trial version and crack it so it becomes a full version. When Adobe was asked why they offer trials of their software, they said it’s for the customers. Adobe felt that the customers willing to purchase the software wanted to try it out first, whereas the people who were cracking the software never intending on buying the software anyway, so it was no loss to them.
There’s so much logic to what Adobe said. If anyone out there has downloaded something for free (that should have been paid for) with the intention of not paying for it, then you have pirated material and have contributed to the losses in these industries. However, what about the stuff that you would have never bought?
I never intended on seeing Iron Man 2 in the theatre and I would not have bought a home copy of the film either. I can tell you this outright because I’m not interested in the storyline and I’m not a fan of any comicbook films. With that said, if I somehow came to acquire a copy of the movie and watched it, does that mean I attributed to industry losses? By law, yes, but technically no. Wouldn’t I have also done the same thing if I went to my friend’s house and watched his copy of the movie?
So many arguments can be made with these topics. All I can say is that if all these industries had it their way, we would not be aloud to let music enter our ears, movies enter our eyes or software enter our computers unless we owned an original copy or license. This seems far fetched and you’ll never be able to stop anyone from sharing.
All I can say is if you like something, pay for it.