It used to be that if you wanted an audio copy of the latest record, you gave a friend who owned the record a blank tape and they would copy it for you. Based upon what I saw when I lived in the UK, the only movies that seemed to be copied were those questionable movies that a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend bought in Amsterdam and brought back to good old blighty. No matter what you were copying, it usually needed a willing partner who help copy the subject matter.
I don’t wish to refer to that time as the good old days but things have changed a lot since the advent of the Internet. Music is simply one click away, often easier to download illegally than it is to purchase through official channels. As a rule of thumb, to buy music online you need to sign up, enter information, pay, and then you can download. Allegedly, to download music illegally, you simply have a program that handles the download (free download) and then visit a website, search and then after a little while, the music is magically on your computer. Usually there is no sign up, and no hassle with emails every few days extolling the latest ‘deals’ and ‘based upon your music‘ suggestions. What about bootlegs I hear you ask? Well, since the original bootlegs were unofficially made at concerts by fans, technically, there is a incredibly grey area if you decide to download a bootleg of a Jimmy Buffet concert!
The same applies to movies, albeit, I believe that the official downloads are probably a lot better quality. There are those who must see the latest movies though, and are willing to download and watch a poor quality version rather than pay to watch on a big screen. Going to the movies is one of those great experiences that can rarely be eclipsed at home. A big screen and an excellent sound system makes it worth it every time. I tend to buy DVD‘s a lot, not only for the movie but for the extras included on the disc, so I enjoy movies at home but there is still no substitute for the big screen, unless it is in 3D but that is another discussion for another time.
There are other options to download such as computer programs, books and television shows. The last option is one that gets used a lot. Take Top Gear, one of the most popular shows around the world, with versions in Australia, South Korea, China, Russia and the US. While there are all these different off shoots, the original show is downloaded by millions every week. Look at it this way, if you are a fan, you can wait several months for the episodes to make it over to BBC America or BBC Canada and even then, you miss out as an hour show doesn’t fit into an hour of broadcast in North America due to commercial breaks. Or, you go online about an hour after the show finished in the UK and within another hour, you can be watching the latest episodes.
I am not suggesting that this is the way we should go about things but it is understandable why so many fans do it. You miss an episode of your favourite show due to a power failure, is it right to download the episode online? What if you are looking for an obscure show that never made it to DVD and it seems as if you are the only one to remember it, should you try to find it and download it? The same applies to comics, not modern comic books, but comics from the 1970s and 80s. These are never going to be re-released or made digitally available so are you in the right to find them and download them? We can usually justify our actions with regards to most things, speeding, drinking, karaoke, but is copyright theft the same?
My belief is that if everyone is doing it, you are more inclined to do the same, after all, isn’t that how people start smoking? Some downloading is ‘worse’ than others. I don’t believe you should download modern or recent music or movies as you are taking the profits away from the makers. If you just missed an episode of a show and you choose to download it, that is fair. If you are looking for something that is no longer available in any other form, good luck.
This is the opinion of the author and does not reflect the opinions or sentiments of this website.
- Editorial: A New Try at Curbing Piracy (nytimes.com)
- Meet the New Copyright Cop: Your Internet Service Provider (pcworld.com)
- Illegal film downloads ‘up 30%’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Lime Wire founder on copyright law: ‘I was wrong’ (news.cnet.com)
- Are You One of 23,000 Defendants in the US’ Biggest Illegal Download Lawsuit? (techland.time.com)
- ISPs Agree To Copyright Alerts: What It Means (informationweek.com)