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The Law and Greed: Copyright Piracy
Miranda Hancock
Academic affiliation: Oklahoma State University
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Today we live in what is called a digital society. People are downloading and sharing songs and movies without any payment to the music or movie companies whatsoever. As stated in Mike Godwinís article "Hollywood versus the Internet," Internet piracy is an ongoing problem today. There are a few proposed ways to fix the problem. Free downloads need to be stopped, or it will pose a threat to cause the downfall of the music and movie industry.

The first proposed way to stop Internet piracy is to incorporate a "watermark" into digital TV signals. This is a way for the makers of digital media to keep their materials from being illegally copied and distributed. The watermarked materials can not be played in an old device, such as video cassette recorders, compact disk players, DVD players, televisions and radio receivers, amplifiers and speakers. New devices would have to be bought, but either the consumer would purchase them or they would go without. The people that would complain about having to buy new equipment are the people that are most likely to commit these illegal actions towards the copyrights. This will meet the loyal consumerís approval. Disney CEO Michael Eisner said, "Just as computers make it possible to create remarkably pristine images, they also make it possible to make remarkable pristine copies" (Godwin 175). This is true in a sense, if these companies, such as Disney, have a problem with free downloads then they sue the people that are doing the downloading and the making of illegal copies, not the websites that are making this information available, because no one is making them commit these crimes. It is not the Websites fault that a person is choosing to break the law. It is also not the fault of the movie and music producers that the makers of compact disk burners make copying and recording such an easy task.

Some companies such as AOL Time Warner remain neutral on this bill. This is smart for companies with bases in Internet services and that also specialize with television production to remain undecided on this issue. When sides are picked by an Internet provider that is a television producer a substantial number of customers will be lost. These consumers that leave will then take there business elsewhere, so profits will go down, but the loyal customers will stay with these companies, making these companies stronger. AOL Time Warner said "We like DMCA" (Godwin 176). DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998; the act prohibits creation of any material (175). Jill Lesser also says, "There isnít from our perspective a need for additional remedies" (176). This is true because if someone wants to commit an act of Internet piracy then they will. Outlawing Internet downloads would cause more problems in the justice system, but if enough of these problems were resolved quickly and efficiently then people would learn by example, and in the long run this would help fight Internet piracy.

When discussing the subject of Internet piracy, both the consumer and major companies start to squirm. The artist and movie producers want their money, but they also do not want to make the consumers mad. The consumers have an easy way of getting their information and media that they want. The media seems so readily available that there is no way that this seems like it is stealing, but it is. As stated by Godwin, "There is no way that consumers will trade in their fast computer with many devices for a quicker but not as technologically advanced system" (177). This is not true, there are some genuine people still left in the world that would see the good in this.

According to Matthew Gerson, "We know that if we build a safe consumer-friendly site that has all the bells and whistles and features that music fans want and it will flourish" (Godwin 176). This is also very true. People are getting free downloads, and if told they have to pay for it they would not want to, but the companies could offer free rewards and gift for every dollar amount spent at their site. This is a good solution to the problem of free downloads because even though the customer is being charged for their music, they are still getting something more out of it.

Content faction and Tech faction also treat consumers very different. Content factions see people as their consumers. This makes the consumers feel like they know up front what they are receiving, and they will not feel cheated. The Tech faction sees people as users. This serves as a problem. This gives the people the features and powers that they want at cheaper prices (Godwin 177). There are no limitations, and no one to set these limitations. The users are in control of their own limits. The users cross these lines but most of the time this is with knowledge of doing so, the users know when enough is enough so there is no excuse for doing crossing these boundaries.

Another argument is that free downloads take away from traditional sales. According to Alcock, "Nobody yet knows whether the interactive acquisition of music will replace traditional sales or merely complement them and enhance consumer choice" (Alcock 129). This is true, but illegal downloading will eventually replace traditional sales, it is much quicker easier, and cheaper. People are already shopping for everything from clothes to cars via the Internet, what is going to keep them from illegally downloading music while they are doing these other things? Nothing will. Yes, you could buy the music and movies from an online store, but few people will do so if the same thing is available for free.

There is also an act that is trying to get the ISP (Internet Service Providers) for making this kinds of information available to people. This is not their fault. They can not help who is doing what on Internet sites. They just provide the service not the web sites, but it still all revolves around money. The ISP are making money off of the consumers that use there service, and frankly they donít really care if people are doing things that are illegal, as long as the people pay there Internet bills.

Online piracy is and may always be the biggest problem in the music and movie industry. Alcock says, "Many of the offenders are young computer users that are looking for new music and media, and maybe if they like it on the Internet then there next stop will be the record store" (Alcock 130). To make the media available to listen to is one thing, but to make it available for downloading for free is out of the question.

Copyrights have the right to protect themselves, and if they do not do this people will take advantage of them. This is one of the bigger issues in Internet copyright piracy. People think that if the companies do not care enough to enforce their copyright law, then they should not care if someone else uses their materials. These are rights that the companies need to observe, but there are maybe a total of fifty people working for a company and there are millions of consumers in the world, there is no way that the companies could stop everyone from illegally downloading material. The lawsuits will then start to fly, and fingers will start to be pointed in any direction, but the right one. The finger should not be pointed at the companies, but at the consumers who stole from the music and movie industry.

Peer-to-peer distributors are also working on new ways of getting music to consumers. Music and media are usually distributed through subscription services, over file sharing services, or revolutionary technology that is not yet thought of. More problems will arise as these new technologies are invented. This will make stopping Internet piracy an even harder ordeal. Internet pirates are also creating new ways to take on the new technologies. There has to be a way for people to know how to manipulate these new technologies. Someone has to make these machines so therefore someone has to know how to manipulate them. With enough time and effort anyone can figure out a certain machine or a certain technology, so if the pirate figured it out, someone should be able to figure out how to stop the pirate. Not only are the peer-to-peer networks getting put in the hot seat, but so are broadband Internet radio stations. This is not ridiculous. Even though there is no way for the users to download off of these stations, the listeners still get to view the music without charge.

In the year two thousand, piracy cost the record company nineteen million dollars. Each of the lawsuits that the music industry or movie producers place on someone cost at least one million dollars. If that company averages at least twenty lawsuits a year they have lost at least twenty million dollars, so with them fighting this problem they are losing at least forty million dollars a year, but them winning the lawsuits, in which they usually do, sets one more person as an example. The usual process takes about a year. The settlement that the music and movie industries get is a sum amount of about forty to seventy thousand dollars. Even if the music and movie industry are losing about fifty to thirty thousand dollars it is worth it because after a handful of lawsuits the public opinion about downloading will change.

There will be new ways created to keep Internet piracy going, and there will be new ways to stop it. There has to be some happy medium reached between the consumers and the companies trying to put an end to this problem. With the ways that consumers are trying to sneak around the issue of Internet piracy, this will be a long battle. The music and movie industry will just have to step up and remain strong to stop this ongoing process.

Works Cited

Alcock, Lucy. "Online piracy of recorded music." Journal of Brand Management 11.2 (2003): 129-32.

Godwin, Mike. "Hollywood vs. the Internet." Speculations. Ed. Jason Landrum, Matthew Wynn Sivils, and Constance Squires. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt, 2003. 172-79.


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