Is downloading really stealing?
There’s been a huge kerfuffle over Game of Thrones (a TV series). Millions of people have been downloading a million different TV shows and movies etc for years. Now everything has suddenly become so real as the law has now decided to buckle down on illegal downloading, using season five of Game of Thrones as a “trap”. Illegally downloading is a violation of intellectual property rights, or otherwise known as “piracy”. But otherwise will they be doing anything morally wrong?
Same-sex relationships, divorce and many other practices that are now widely accepted as morally acceptable were once outlawed and criminally sanctioned. Very few people thought those things were wrong before legalized. This I feel is what’s happening with downloading TV shows and movies etc. You’re not taking them and claiming them as your own, that would be absolutely ridiculous. You’re simply conforming to today’s society – having everything at your fingertips and able to get it within seconds.
Copyright protects a lot of different things. Below is only some of what it protects:
- Textual material – journal articles, novels, screenplays, poems, song lyrics and reports
- Computer programs
- Artistic works – paintings, drawings, cartoons, sculpture, architectural plans, buildings, photographs, maps and plans
- Dramatic works – plays and mime pieces
- Musical works – the music itself, separately from any lyrics or recording;
- Sound recordings – the particular recording itself is protected by copyright
- Broadcasts – TV and radio broadcasters have a copyright in their broadcasts
There are exceptions to employees; freelance photographers; engravers and people doing portraits; film and sound recordings; a State, Territory or Federal Government.
Okay, so everyone knows there’s a huge problem with the copyright law. Artists don’t get paid much, and consumers aren’t getting a fair deal either. We can all agree that copyright sucks, but the issue is that nobody can agree on what to do about it.
People are seriously loosing faith in copyright itself. Treating audiences and fans like pirates is only making the problem worse. People don’t jaywalk in front of police officers; if people don’t care about the law, they’ll only follow it when they have to. Copyright law has been getting stronger and stronger for decades. They’ve now introduced huge penalties to attempt to prevent the law from being broken, but it hasn’t worked. People are finding loopholes and sharing the word around.
Being one in a million who illegally downloads, I don’t see it as stealing. Though I understand that I’m robbing the artist of their money by not purchasing their songs via iTunes. It’s a vicious cycle; by not purchasing songs, the artist loses money and raises the price of their song/s, which makes me illegally download more. The industry has tried very hard to convince consumers that it’s wrong. They advertise in the movies and ads that it’s “piracy” and “stealing” and how you wouldn’t steal someone’s car etc. But being a pirate myself, I see stealing a car and downloading some music and movies two completely different things.
I will fight this battle and stand aside my fellow peers.
Nicolas Suzor, (February 21st 2014). The only way to fix copyright it to make it fair: http://theconversation.com/the-only-way-to-fix-copyright-is-to-make-it-fair-23402
Christian Barry, (April 13th 2014). Is downloading really stealing? The ethics of digital piracy: http://theconversation.com/the-only-way-to-fix-copyright-is-to-make-it-fair-23402