Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing of media, such as music and movies, that has been protected by copyrights is illegal and has been around since approximately 1999 when Napster went live. Napster was the website that had done it first. It inspired multiple other websites and programs of this nature to be set up and became a trend to download copyrighted content for free.
P2P file sharing is also commonly called copyright infringement, and piracy. It seemed harmless at the time, but now authorities are taking action against this crime more than ever.
The Canadian Copyright Act gives the artists or people who made the media rights to their work. This act does not protect the ideas of a project before they have been put into use, but it covers the final products. Breaking to copyright law is a crime that can result in fines and sometimes imprisonment.
Who is P2P file sharing actually hurting?
Some people may believe that it hurts the economy. In the United States, Congress says that piracy costs their economy hundreds of billions of dollars per year and is responsible for the loss of three quarters of a million jobs.
I don’t believe this, nor do millions of other people. How is it possible to put a number on something that can’t be tracked? It would be extremely hard to calculate the number of people who have downloaded illegal files from the internet and come up with an amount for “losses”.
It seems that struggling artists and music stores that sell physical CDs and records are being hurt the most. Buying a digital file is becoming more and more common as time goes on. It’s a much more convenient way to store music when compared to finding room on a shelf.
Consequences of Copyright Infringement
In the United States, consequences of piracy can include up to $250,000 in fines
and up to five years in prison. In Canada, the maximum fine that can be charged is $20,000. Currently, the government is suggesting reducing the maximum fine to $5,000 and instead only go after the large groups that endorse copyright infringement. These groups could pay up to $1,000,000 if found guilty.
The attempt of enforcement for this law has not stopped the vast majority of the people that participate in piracy.
Why People Pirate
A lot of people that are short on cash are generally more willing to pirate. I know I was. Being a university student doesn’t leave too much extra cash for entertainment purposes.
Then, there are others who simply don’t see it as ethically wrong, and others do it because of political beliefs.
Become Aware of Alternatives to Piracy
Seeing as there is a penalty for committing this crime, it might be best to look into some alternatives. It’s possible that not everyone knows that there are alternatives because there are some reasonable ones out there.
If its money that’s the issue, there are some cheaper options that don’t have you paying full price. Of course, it will cost more that downloading a file on a P2P website, but this way there are no consequences when it comes to copyright infringement. In Canada, there are fewer options than the United States, but more and more are slowly becoming available to us.
For all of these websites, a monthly fee is paid. On Netflix, you can watch as many shows and movies as you want as long as you have an internet connection. The music services allow you to basically rent music for as long as you pay for a subscription.
Where do I Stand?
I believe that piracy may actually help the music and movie industries. It’s been proven in a study in Europe that illegally downloading these files ultimately lead to the legitimate purchase of the same items.
Also from personal experience, I believe that this is accurate. How do you know if something is awful or amazing before you listen to/watch it? You don’t! When I find something that I like, I think, “Wow, this is great! I should buy it”, then I delete the torrented file and replace it with a purchased one. When I find something that I don’t like, I think, “Oh, this is terrible. I’m never going to listen to this”, and then I delete the file forever.
At 0:53 on the video posted below, it is discussed how it’s hard to make someone pay for a media file by comparing it to a mariachi band. This young man touches on
many interesting points throughout his video.
So for me, all copyright infringement files that I have downloaded are inevitably deleted. This method helps me find what I like and what I don’t like. I believe that others do the same, too. Sure, there are some people who never plan on paying for anything, but not everyone chooses that path.
I do not believe that piracy is morally or ethically wrong. There are both positive and negative ways to look at it and it just depends on what side you believe has a stronger argument. Wanting to lower the maximum fine in Canada convinces me that people are aware that the penalties may be too severe right now. Some people may not want to chance their luck and opt for a legal alternative, and some may not. Hopefully over the course of time the piracy debate will work itself out so we can stop worrying about how we obtain our media and just enjoy it.