Illegal Downloading: Everyone does it, so what’s the problem?
You are sitting at home on the computer thinking of what you want to do. You realize you haven’t heard the latest song from your favorite band. You start up a P2P (peer-to-peer) program called Limewire. You search for your song and it appears in the list; you start to download it. What you just did was completely illegal and can get you into a lot of trouble. Most people would think to themselves, “What’s the harm in downloading a couple songs here and there?” Internet Piracy as defined is “using the Internet to illegally copy and/or distribute software”, and is a huge offense here in America. You wouldn’t walk into a Circuit City and take a 52” Plasma Screen TV right out of the store without paying for it, would you?
What is Internet Piracy really? We all understand that downloading a song, movie, software etc. is illegal, but why? When a company creates a product, they copyright it; allowing the company sole rights to their product. If we take a look specifically at the music industry, we can understand just what is wrong with internet piracy. According to the Institute for Policy Innovation the Music Industry loses $12.5 billion every year due to piracy (RIAA). To make things worse, that is only the number that has to do with burned CDs and DVDs; they haven’t taken into consideration the billions of downloads of single songs -- it’s impossible. The reason it’s illegal is you are stealing money in product form. By downloading songs you take money from the music industry and the artists that created the music. Once you download a song illegally you are liable for consequences. The RIAA, Recording Industry Association of America, has been cracking down on those that commit piracy. In 2005 the RIAA arrested/indicted roughly 3,299 people and seized 5,031,859 cassettes, pressed CDs, burned CDs, and music DVDs (RIAA). Those that were indicted had to pay for what they had stolen, roughly a couple thousand dollars or more. Since 2005 music downloading and trafficking of CDs and DVDs has risen, creating more problems for the companies that lose money. The RIAA did some recent surveys and found out that more than half of the US’s college students download music illegally (RIAA). It’s not all that startling to know that teenagers and young adults are the ones responsible. Since college students grew up with this technology and it is in their hands to choose how to use it. According to an article in Black Issues In Higher Education and some industry accounts, 2.6 billion songs are downloaded every month, mostly by college students (Galuszka). If you view a song as only being $1 a song, that’s a $2.6 billion lost to the music industry. Since it appears that a lot of college students are at fault, many colleges and universities have integrated a way to stop pirating. Schools have deliberately made their IT systems run slower during peak download time. At USF (University of South Florida), students invented ICARUS (Integrated Computer Application for Recognizing User Service) which can pinpoint an act of piracy and immediately block access (Galuszka). Its programs like these that help the industry find stop or at least slow down piracy. The music industry isn’t the only industry affected by illegal downloading. People download movies, TV shows, video games, software, etc. The movie industry loses its fair share of money by those who download movies and don’t buy a hard copy. In 2005 the MPAA lost roughly $2.3 billion worldwide to internet piracy alone; that’s excluding hardcopy piracy and other forms (MPAA). Music apparently outshined movies, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a hard blow to the industry. If no one goes and sees a movie in the theaters, or buys the DVD when it comes out, the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who made the movie don’t get paid, or get paid less. But going to the movies can turn into an act of piracy....
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