Sam Oliver McDaniel
Piracy is become an increasing problem for media providers. According to the Directors Guild of America 25 billion dollars of revenue is lost annually to US firms and 375,000 jobs have been lost to piracy. This has cost US workers and average of 16 billion dollars in lost wages. The percentage of bandwidth that is used in illegally downloading copyrighted material, is 23.7% globally.
But why are these numbers so high and what can be done about it? I will briefly examine the reason for the increase and piracy and then examine the different techniques that have been used to fight this epidemic. I believe a combination of techniques will be necessary to severely decrease illegal downloading. To sum up, I will state what I think the most effective combination of techniques will be and why.
The reason for the increase in pirated material is the increase in internet speeds and the decrease in cost to duplicate media. Before there was internet, movies and music could be recorded from tape to tape or off the radio or TV. But this was an arduous and time consuming process. So friends might swap tapes and there was some bootlegging, but this did not happen enough to have a huge impact on the media industry. With the introduction of the internet to the general public and the later invention of file sharing software, getting free media became even easier. Users would go to Napster or a Usenet group and download the music they want. However, with maximum download speeds of 784 kbs(kilobytes per second), getting the downloads took patience. For this reason, it was mostly music that was shared since movie and software files would be unthinkably huge and would take days to download. Today internet speeds are available at up to 40MB(megabytes) more than 40 times faster than in the year 2000 when online file sharing first caught on. It makes it so a movie can be downloaded in less than 30 minutes. This is a huge problem for the music industry, the software and the movie industry. Many more file sharing sites are in existence and file sharing has become entirely too easy. And will continue to get easier and faster as internet speeds continue to increase. In addition, 70% of youth are doing the pirating as opposed to only 45% of adults. And the majority of youth see nothing wrong with downloading copyrighted material off the internet. So, if nothing changes, it looks like the rate of piracy is unlikely to go down.(Sar Ernesto)
Techniques to fight piracy
The most used technique in fighting piracy thus far, has been lawsuits. Suits have been brought up against large content provider websites and individual downloaders. The first legal case was against Napster in 1999 which forced it to shut down. Since then many suites have been brought against warez and torrent providers and most recently against cyberlocker site, MegaUpload lawsuits have been an effective way to shut down large file sharing websites. This technique makes sense with 67% of digital piracy sites hosted in the US(Go-Gulf). But the process is slow and expensive and does not stop new sites from popping up. Napster got taken down while other file sharing protocols continued and a new one, Kazza was introduced. MegaUpload was taken down, and its Russian replacement, Mega has already been introduced.
The other lawsuits, against individuals, don’t seem like they would be more than a scare tactic against the few individuals, however with a problem so large, it is going to take multiple tactics to slow the rate of piracy. And while, it may not make much difference financially to go after individual offenders, what this tactic does do, is focus on the view of piracy. Right now 53% of the population thinks there is nothing wrong with downloading copyrighted material off the internet(Sar Ernesto) so prosecuting individuals changes the view of...