Ever since the birth of the printing press and the copyright laws that quickly followed there has been piracy and copyright theft. Each and every time technology makes an advancement there seems to be an issue with copyright.
When VHS video cassettes came along there was a problem with people passing round poor quality recordings of movies that were only just released at the cinema. When DVD’s came along there was a problem with people passing around DVD’s of movies that they had duplicated on their home computer and then when the internet came around there was problem with people sitting in the back of the cinema with a handheld camera and then distributing it for free on the internet. The problem of piracy has always been there and the truth of the matter is the problem of piracy is always going to be there.
As we all know it is not just movies that are pirated there is also the issue of music being distributed across the internet and we all know that music piracy was an issue long before the internet was here. I am sure pretty much everyone reading this will have to put their hand up and admit to recording a song from the radio.
If you listen to the voice of the entertainment industry (movie studios, artists and the big organisations) copyright theft and piracy is the root of all evil. According to the entertainment industry piracy funds terrorism, piracy funds drug dealing and encourages child slave labour and also it costs people their jobs. You might have noticed that homes artists, actors and most of the other people in the entertainment industry are not exactly getting any smaller.
Personally, I simply do buy these claims made by the entertainment industry not that my opinion is going to carry much weight in the grand scheme of things. I do however think that copyright theft is a big problem. I do not think that it is of big a problem as the entertainment industry is claiming but I do think it is a problem. After all I make my living as a content creator and I would not care to find that someone else was ripping of my work and making a profit from it.
It is because copyright theft and piracy is a problem that we have music locked down tight with DRM and software that we can only install on one computer. It is also because of the copyright theft and piracy problem that services like Netflix never let us truly own what we buy.
While I acknowledge piracy as a problem I really do not think that bills such as SOPA and PIPA are the way forward and the way to prevent copyright theft and piracy. After all you just need to look at history to see that DRM was quickly broken as was the various encryption methods used on video recordings. The same will happen if SOPA and PIPA become a reality. The world of piracy will quickly adapt and copyright theft will continue to thrive.
If the entertainment industry really wants to stop piracy they really need to take a step back and look at the situation. Yes, technically piracy is theft but people simply do not look on it as theft. That may well be wrong and against the law but it is a losing battle that is to be fought for anyone trying to change people’s opinion on this. If the entertainment industry wants to reduce or even eliminate piracy altogether then they must first understand why we pirate and happily carry out copyright theft.
So Why Do People Pirate Movies, Music and Games?
When it comes to the reasons why people are happy to carry out copyright theft and pirate you are bound to get a wide range of reasons and motives but for the sake of simplicity let us look at the most common and genuine reasons.
People Pirate Because They Want to Own What They Buy.
When we buy something we do so because we want to own it. We want to be able to use what we have bought in any way that we see fit. When it comes to buying movies, music or video games you never really own what you have supposedly bought.
When you purchase a movie, music album or video game because they have a copyright you are severely restricted as to what you can do with your purchase. For example if you purchase a movie the copyright means you are not allowed to lend that movie to a friend or family member. If you purchase a music album then the copyright technically means that you would be breaking the law if you were to play that album at your child’s birthday party. This would be classed as public performance and if you read the details of any copyright notice this is against the law.
If you buy a video game for your PlayStation 3 or Xbox and complete or get bored with the game you are not allowed to sell it on to a friend. If you read the details of the copyright you will notice it specifically states that you are not allowed to resell the game.
The biggest problem that many people have what leads most people to breach copyrights is the area of unauthorised duplication of a works. Pretty much anything that you buy which has a copyright will make you a criminal if you try to duplicate it. That means if you download a song from iTunes or buy a CD album and want a copy to play in your car then you have to buy an extra copy. You are not legally allowed to duplicate a copyrighted work without expressed written permission form the copyright owner.
People participate in copyright theft because they want to own what they buy and the want to be able to do with their property as they choose.
People Pirate Because They Want an Easy Life.
When the issue of piracy over the internet first began to be recognised as a huge global problem there was many people, myself included, who believed that files sharing was only a problem because it was so easy. After all it is a lot easier to download a movie on your computer than it is to jump in the car, drive to your local video store and drive back again. Then if you have only rented the movie you have to take it back in to the rental store.
Since the early days of file sharing the entertainment industry has taken notice of new technology and has really began to up its game when it comes to digital distribution. It is fair to say that you no longer need to leave the house if you fancy watching a movie or grabbing a new music album. Since the birth of iTunes and services such as Netflix the entertainment industry has eliminated the need to do anything other than sit in your front room and press a few buttons.
So, why do we, with the advancements in legal digital distribution, do we still illegally download music and movies?
Again we go back to the fact that people do not like to be told what they can and cannot do with the things that they buy and that are exactly what is happening when you legally download movies or music.
Take a look at iTunes and the fact that the majority of the content that you download is wrapped tight in DRM. This means that if you download a movie from iTunes you are unable to burn the movie to a DVD so that you can watch it on your television set.
If you are a subscriber to services such as Netflix you will never truly be the owner of what you are buying. All you are doing with such services like this is renting movies. If you don’t pay for the service then you are unable to watch. Just look at the likes of SKY television in the UK. They have a service similar to TIVO but once you cancel your subscription to SKY you are no longer able to view anything that you may have recorded on your SKY box.
People reach copyright and pirate because they do not want to be told how and where they can enjoy their purchase. They do not want to be told that if they want to watch an iTunes download on their television set then they must buy Apple TV. If they want to own a movie they do not want to be told that they have to continuously pay a subscription charge and fund a never ending revenue stream for the studios. This is the equivalent of having to pay a school teacher a subscription each and every time you use something that they may have taught you back in school.