My gut feeling when we talk about piracy is that it is theft. By downloading movies, TV shows, games and music from the internet without paying, we are stealing from the artists who produced them. Yes, a lot of them are overpaid, but is that our judgement. On a more local scale we are depriving locally run businesses, such as the Regal Twin Cinema, Rocking Horse Records and Network Video of much needed business.
My argument when someone illegally downloads content is would you go into a shop and steal a CD, because that is what piracy is. Would my feelings have been different if the internet had been around to download music and films when I was younger? Probably, because my morals were different then and I didn’t have friends who were small business owners.
I don’t judge people who do download pirated content, I can understand why they do it. Music is expensive, as is going to the cinema, and it’s easy not too feel guilty about depriving rich Hollywood celebrities and rock stars of a few dollars. Instead look at the faceless victims, the local businesses and the people they employ.
When I was a teenager in Manchester, there were 3 record shops in the city centre (yes they were still called records then): HMV, Virgin and an independent, all of which were packed on a Saturday. In Brisbane city centre, I am only aware of one and as far as I remember it was the same in Manchester last time I went home. I know partly it is due to iTunes and the like, but I don’t feel piracy is helping either. We are losing community hubs where music lovers could meet and local bands could come and promote their latest LPs.
What can legislation do about this? Copyright holders have asked Australian ISPs to enforce a three strikes policy, where users suspected of downloading pirated content receive 3 warning letters and then the ISPS work with the copyright owners to deal with the users. This has been scrapped as it is too expensive. In reality enforcing copyright infringement on the internet could prove difficult as the downloaders often live in different countries than the copyright holders.
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