The Multifaceted Issue of Internet Piracy
When the death of Napster, the past popular peer-to-peer music file sharing network, occurred back in 2001, the realities of the legal ramifications of pirating copyrighted material on the Internet became painfully obvious to the general public. Prior to Napster’s demise, its millions of users enjoyed sharing files with each other, many of them being college students with too low of budgets to legally purchase the music. At its peak, Napster had 25 million users and 80 million songs being shared.
Today the sharing of entertainment goodies such as music, movies, and TV shows continues on the world wide web through services and popular torrent websites like KickAssTorents.com and isoHunt. While P2P file sharing technology is completely legal, the sharing of copyrighted material, which happens all the time using these services, is not. Here we delve further into the world of P2P sharing, including statistics on what it has cost businesses, who and how many pirates are out there, and what enforcement measures are being set forth.
In 2009, $51 billion was lost due to software piracy, and movie piracy has reportedly cost American film studios about $25 billion annually. To combat this, copyright industries shell out big time cash to advocate anti-piracy laws – keeping all who pirate, or may be thinking to plunder the P2P waters of the Internet, informed and fearful. While the industries are hesitant to release their budget reports, a 2011 report estimated that the Motion Picture Association of America threw down $60-75 million in 2009, the Recording Industry Association of America spent $45-55 million the same year, and the Business Software Alliance spent $55 million in 2007 on such efforts to stop piracy.
General public not buying it (pun intended)
A public survey revealed that the majority of Americans don’t see any harm in sharing files with each other. 70% and 75% of people felt it was okay to share movie/TV files and music files, respectively, with family. And 54% and 56% felt it was fine to share the respective files with friends. So, who exactly are these pirates?
70% of 18 to 29 year olds, and 46% of older American adults have admitted to copying files from friends and family and/or downloading them for free. And pirates seem to know no political party or gender, as men and women have been found to equally pirate, and 24% of Republicans, 35% of Democrats and 31% of Independents have copied or downloaded for free as well.
A major issue on college campuses
As copyright industries work to prevent piracy, so have private and public universities across the nation. They have spent hundreds of hours, as well as hundreds and thousands of dollars to stop piracy from taking place on their campuses. To be specific, private universities have thrown down around $100,000, $150,000, and $150,000 on license fees for software, special hardware costs and other direct costs, respectively. Public colleges have spent around $25,000, $60,000, and $80,000 on the respective measures.
Universities also stated that in the 2007-2008 school year they’ve employed a variety of other measures in effort to prevent on-campus piracy, including having installed technology solutions to stem piracy, taken away student network access if they violated policy, given financial penalties as well as other sanctions for violations, and enforced mandatory user education programs.
The fight against illegal pirating continues overseas
in England In the music realm, incredibly talented British artists such as Adele have taken the world by storm. In light of this, various famous British musicians, including Elton John, Simon Cowell, and surviving members of the bands The Who and Queen, wrote a letter to the British Prime Minister David Cameron to ask him to enforce anti-piracy laws, citing how England’s powerful music industry depends on this type of protection.
The letter, as published in the Telegraph, asserts that England’s creative industries create “jobs at twice the speed of the rest of the economy,” and the simplest way to help protect this is to “implement the long-overdue measures in the Digital Economy Act 2010; and to ensure broadband providers, search engines and online advertisers play their part in protecting consumers and creators from illegal sites.”
Illegal pirating has and will continue to be a major international issue, as the demand for entertainment and the means to get it for free isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Time will only tell how things will ultimately pan out, but as we’ve seen, a combination of government, public, and artist efforts will continue to fight to the bitter end in the name of copyright.
Kristen Bright is the social media consultant for Instant Checkmate. Instant Checkmate is a personal criminal background check provider, and does not perform employment screening of any kind.