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Commerce Destruction:
The Result of Internet Piracy
Austin Welsh
Academic affiliation: Oklahoma State University
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For millions of people the Internet is destined to become a vast personal video and music library. For those broadband users that enjoy downloading and sharing copyrighted files in the comfort of their own home they might be disturbed to know that these privileges could come to an end. The emerging struggle between the content industries and the information technology industries is a constant battle to eliminate piracy and to give credit to those industries that actually produced the music or video. While the Content Faction includes copyright holders such as record and film companies, TV networks, and publishers, the Tech Faction protects computer and software companies, and digital electronics such as DVD players. In the article "Hollywood vs. the Internet," Mike Godwin argues against all factions putting a halt on file sharing programs. Many people probably take advantage of the exchanging of copyrighted files, but what they do not realize is that it is a form of plagiarism. Hollywood has the right for their works to be copyrighted just like we have the right to have our ideas protected. In the article, "Pirates Sail the Virtual Seas," Ioan Grillo claims that piracy is causing financial concern, which is directly resulting in business destruction. If computer users continue to illegally download copyrighted material from the Internet, then consumers will not buy CDs or DVDs, which will eventually cause the music and film industries to collapse.

Hollywood has the right to have their material protected by copyrights and antipiracy laws. By allowing acts of piracy to continue it is reducing sales and it is stealing from the profitable income that Music and Film groups deserve and have earned. Grillo argues that statistics show a decrease in the sales of films due to piracy. "The International Intellectual Property Alliance (UPA) estimates the copyright piracy of software, books, music and films in Mexico cost companies $717.9 million in lost earning in 2002 alone" (1). Even though Godwin argues against the idea of incorporating "watermarks" or "Digital Rights Management" (DRM) that prevents copyright infringement he neglects to mention the negative effects that piracy has cost the Film and Music Industries. Statistics show the significant decline in CD sales, "As almost 70% of music compact discs sold in Mexico are pirated, that means a lot of complaints need to be put on record" (Grillo 3). If illegal file sharing continues to occur on the Internet then it will be unnecessary for one to buy CDs or DVDs because they would have access to download it for free on the Internet. The music and film industries would not be able to make a profit thus not allowing them to create their works of art.

Some might believe that by putting laws on copyright infringement would restrict the user from using their computer comfortably and freely. Being able to download files is a privilege that computer users were granted since the evolution of the Internet. Factions are not taking away this privilege; rather they are simply securing the rights that Hollywood has earned by attempting to put an end to piracy. Godwin argues that it is unjust to take away Internet capabilities when the world has grown so fond of them. "In this war over the future shape of digital technology. It is computer users who may suffer the collateral damage" (173). Godwin perhaps makes an overstatement by saying it will bring "collateral damage" to all computer users. What Godwin does not mention is that it will only effect those who are illegally downloading files and abusing their privileges. Grillo seems to think differently: "Crime has always been a thorn in the side of business. Since the beginning of capitalism, companies have had to adjust their revenue to account of goods being held up on the highways or pinched off the shelves. But in the information age of the 21st century, it is the theft not of merchandise, but ideas, that is hitting business the hardest" (2). While Godwin believes that computer users will be drastically effected, Grillo argues that businesses are the ones that are going to suffer.

There is no definite resolution for stopping the illegal downloading of files while maintaining all capabilities that the computer has to offer. However, if such programs as DRM and "watermarks" are needed to protect those copyrights, then minor sacrifices will have to be made by computer users in order to put an end to unlawful acts of piracy. One might have to add software or later buy a computer with an encryption device that will not allow for one to illegally download files. The music and film industries have invested time and effort to the products that society demands, so it is their right to have such items protected with copyrights. Depending on the severity of the case, violators should be punished by the law. Grillo claims the law is the answer to end all counterfeiters. "The law would stiffen sentences for intellectual property crimes. Industry groups are fighting for an amendment that would let the police act against pirates without a lawsuit filed by the authors…" (5). This may not solve the war against piracy entirely, but justice is needed to make a stand against the unlawful acts.

It is clear that Godwin is totally against the idea of having such encryption devices placed into computers that regulate and monitor Internet behavior. Some might even argue that it is an invasion of their privacy while overlooking the fact that it is a form of stealing. Musicians and actors have dedicated their lives producing their albums and films so if one wants to enjoy the fruits of their labor then they must pay the price. Many of these artists have protested this right and they work hard to put an end to piracy. " 'We need stricter laws so that the people who do this are treated the same way as somebody who steals something,' growled the terminator and candidate for governor of California" (Schwarzenegger qtd. in Grillo 1). Certain CDs and DVDs are putting devices that disable one to "burn" or "rip" music, video, and image files. Since steps have been made to regulate the copying of CD to CD, then it is time to stop the illegal acts of file sharing and give credit to the industries that deserve it.

Godwin also argues that computer users are losing their capabilities, which is contradicting the reason we have computers. "If this is your approach-enabling people to do new things-it's hard to adjust to the idea of building in limitation" (17). Godwin makes a valid argument by stating the purpose for computers is enabling people to do new things. What needs to be apparent to the reader is that such factions are not taking away their privilege of sharing files they are just regulating the illegal exchanging of files, the ones that do not belong to them. It is important for the reader to understand that this privilege of downloading illegal files on the Internet is not the reason we have computers. So it is not taking away user rights or privileges when factions are trying to put an end to illegal acts of piracy. If Internet piracy is not regulated then it will cause negative effects, such as financial instability, to the music and film industries. These companies invest a lot of time and money in order to please those who enjoy their works. However, many continue to download it for free rather then buying it. If illegal file sharing continues then computer users will have no incentive to purchase CDs and DVDs, and worst of all this is going to destroy the reputation of industries that have taken decades to build.

Godwin argues against the idea of Factions putting a stop to file sharing while Grillo is for the idea of putting an end to piracy. However they both agree that technology is moving too fast, so there is difficulty in trying to regulate it. "The laws and those enforcing them struggle to keep up with the pace of technological change and the new weapons in the hands of the pirates" (Grillo 3). While Internet speeds are increasing, so are the hacker's abilities to override digital encryption devices. By giving computer users faster Internet connection this is enabling them to download and share illegal files at a faster rate, virtually making it impossible to monitor Internet activity. In the end if computer users are subjected to encryption devices such as the "watermark" or DSM or even forced to own a slower modem, this would justify the need for copyrights. The right belongs to the industries that make the material for the pleasure of the users, so justice has not prevailed when these offenders continually steal by illegally downloading material from them. In order for film and music industries to continue producing their works then computer users must buy the CDs and DVDs. If illegal acts of file sharing continue, then such industries may be financially jeopardized which could lead to the destruction of the industries. Consequently, computer users will not even have the chance to download music, videos, or images off the Internet.

It is clear that if computer users continue to illegally download files off the Internet that is going to effect business. While Godwin is against the idea of restricting Internet privileges Grillo argues against pirates causing destruction towards the music and film industries. The problem of piracy lies between two industries, the Content and Tech Factions. The ones who will suffer the most are the computer users. If illegal file sharing continues then people will not spend money to buy CDs or DVDs because it is free at the cost of their fingertips. If no one is buying the music or movies, then who is going to make it? This will inevitably cause the music and film industries to collapse leaving the computer users to suffer by not having anything to listen to or watch.

Works Cited

Godwin, Mike. "Hollywood vs. the Internet." Speculations. Ed. Jason Landrum. Matthew Wynn Sivils. Constnace Sivils. Constance Squires. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 2003. 173-78.

Grillo, Ioan. "Pirates Sail the Virtual Seas." Business Mexico Sep. 2003:26 <http:11 gateway. proquest.com/openurl?url_ver=239.88.html>.

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