There is no such thing as ‘piracy’ Part 2

This post became too long for one sitting, so it has been divided. Read the first part here.

Now we can move into the point of my original post – file sharing sites, BitTorrent, and other methods of distributing media are not piracy. They are methods of distribution. Piracy can be defined loosely as robbing or violence committed against someone or something (a corporation perhaps). When someone downloads a movie via Megaupload or a song via Frostwire they are not robbing anyone nor committing an act of violence. The RIAA and MPAA would have you believe that they are being robbed of income they would have received if the CD/DVD would have been sold in a store. That seems like a reasonable analogy, but they ignore the fact that research has been performed that shows one of three things:

  1. The person is a fan of the artist or movie and will purchase the work anyway.
  2. The person would never have purchased the music or movie.
  3. The person has purchased the item previously and is obtaining a digital copy.

Think about those items. If #1 is true, then the RIAA/MPAA has not lost any money. The person who got their copy of the work through an illegal distribution channel is going to give money to pay for the work, they merely used a different path to get the work at one point. If we consider #2, then the RIAA/MPAA still have not lost any money because the person has no intention of purchasing a DVD/CD or going to the theater. #2 is what the big corporations point out and hope you don’t think about too much. #2 has always existed, however this person can now download and have the music easily instead of making a tape copy or ripping a CD to their computer. #2 would never have purchased the work even if file sharing sites did not exist.

I am most likely to be in the #3 category should I ever download a work. I have purchased only a few CDs in the past few years for myself. Generally, I attribute this to getting older and not caring for much pop music. Still, I have purchased several hundred CDs and DVDs over my lifetime. If my ‘Alice in Chains:Unplugged’ CD gets scratched, I would easily consider downloading a copy from a torrent. Does this make me a criminal? No, it means that I used an illegal distribution channel to obtain another copy of a work that I paid for previously. The big corporations do not like this because it does not use hard media channels they control like DVD or CD purchases.

None of these acts constitutes piracy. What these acts do amount to is using illegal distribution channels to get a copy of a work. People obtained an illegal copy without using the proper distribution channel. There was no violence. There was no robbing since 1 and 3 will pay or have paid for the work downloaded, and 2 has no intention of ever paying for the work. Unfortunately piracy is an emotional word that people can relate to, and the news outlets can use this word to scare you or sound interesting.

That is my explanation of why there is no such thing as piracy. Yes, a copy may have been made illegally, but that means copyright law was broken. This does not mean someone or something (company) was robbed or violently attacked. People sold illegal copies of cassettes and CDs at flea markets however they were just called criminals. The same can be said for those using file-sharing websites, but it sounds much more evil to call them PIRATES. While these vicious pirates keep making illegal copies, the industries keep making record profits.