Downloading the latest hit song can be as easy as pressing a button. With no investment necessary, any song or movie or even program can be found on person to person file sharing networks such as Limewire, Frostwire or BitTorrent. But is this downloading of free stuff really free? What does it cost us in the long run?
- Copyrights – Historically, copyright laws have protected intellectual property, such as music. A copyright is a form of legal protection provided to the authors of original works of authorship, whether books, music, film or other creative works. Its aim is to allow authors, musicians, directors, etc., (and the companies that back them and distribute their work) to profit from their creativity and so encourage them and others to produce other works in future.
- Stealing – When ‘free’ stuff is downloaded, you are actually stealing that persons/groups intellectual property. Trading MP3s is just like stealing a CD from a store. MP3s may not be tangible, but they can be stolen. This means that you can be fined, sued, and even go to jail.
- Sharing – There are certain rights protected for the purchasers of copyrighted music, such as the right to make unlimited copies for their personal use and the right to share what they buy with their friends and family. But how far do these rights go? If one person purchases a song legally, do they then have the right to distribute that song to an unlimited amount of people? If that person shares a legally purchased song with you, without you having to pay anything, is the copy you have still legal? No. Sharing is like borrowing, you have to give it back. Keeping something someone else gave you, even if they paid for it, is still stealing.
- Viruses – Nearly all the music that is shared and downloaded is highly commercial. Free file-sharing sites often transmit viruses and ad-ware. Legal online file-sharing services exist at fair prices and are much safer. Pirated software can carry viruses or may not function at all. Plus, unlicensed users do not receive quality documentation and are not entitled to receive technical support or product upgrades, patches, or updates.
- Prices – Online free file-downloads have damaged legitimate sales. The media industry might have to compensate for a lack of sales by raising prices of goods; which means more stealing, which means higher prices. See the cycle? Plus the cost of fighting off the piracy has to come from somewhere, right?
- Quality – Unregulated file-sharing could reduce the appeal and quality of related industries. Software piracy stifles innovation. The cost of combating software piracy, plus lost revenues, could be spent on research and development to benefit users. That means that quality suffers (by arturo at testsforge). If you have no money to get better equipment, fresh people with new ideas, then how can the quality improve? Answer: it can’t.
- Effort – Musicians and music companies spend significant time and energy creating and promoting new music. It seems unfair that, after all this hard work, the product of their efforts is subject to a free-for-all with no obvious flow of money back to the producers. What’s the incentive of putting forth all that effort if you don’t reap any benefits?
- Global Economy – Illegal distribution of software affects the worldwide economy. “With an estimated 36% piracy rate globally, the economic effects are significant.” In 2001, according to the Business Software Alliance, piracy cost the global economy over $13 billion U.S. dollars in lost tax revenues that would benefit local communities. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in software and related industries were also lost.
There you have it. Piracy hurts the producers and the consumers. It stifles creativity and promotes lawsuits. So the next time the urge strikes you to get the newest song or movie, please take the time and money to actually purchase it. You’ll be thankful in the long run.