What is internet piracy really? What are its consequences?
Well… “internet piracy” is in a way like inflation: it is decreasing the value of an original product. So if anything is wrong with “internet piracy” it is exactly the same thing that is wrong with what central banks do. So until central banks exist, there will exist internet piracy, because people just can’t afford (maybe because of monetary inflation) overly expensive software and movies.
On the other hand I predict there is going to be more internet piracy as time goes on, plainly because majority of people are probably (if freedom does not prevail) going to loose their jobs and because everything is most likely going to get a tad more expensive. Besides when majority of people choose to share (whilst duplicating – pirating) their stuff online, and download as well, there is most likely going to be less and less options for the government to jail them all. And the only way to stop piracy (digital inflation) that I know of, is to destroy internet by let’s say global EMP pulse that destroys digital systems. Oh, but wait: people are so dependent (including governments) on digital technologies and internet, that that would be highly unlikely (though some might prefer that).
In the mean time, I advise people to use downloaded software, if they do, only for learning how to use that software. When one starts making money on whatever, whilst using software they procured through the pirated means, I personally think that the most fair thing to do is to buy the software. On movies and music I don’t know. I guess if you really want to go see a movie, you can go to the cinema, if you are not sure, one could I guess download one and if they liked it in such a way as to support the author they might as well buy it. The same goes for music: if you like it, then go and buy it. Furthermore studies have shown, that (at least for the music industry) piracy is actually increasing revenue for music (I would believe that the same is true for movies). It is also worth noting, that as long as the digital copies, which are 99% of the time of inferior quality to originial, circle around for personal use and not for profit, the original author is not harmed. Moreover one can make a pretty good assumption, that files downloaded more (or watched more on youtube) are being “demanded for” more and are a kind of a call for an author to produce a product that people will buy.
As an RT article concludes:
Hammering the point home, the researchers concluded that “taken at face value, our findings indicate that digital music piracy does not displace legal music purchases in digital format. This means that although there is trespassing of private property rights, there is unlikely to be much harm done on digital music revenues”.
Moreover in majority of countries (again because of stupid government regulations) there are limits as to what you can get legally. Sometimes though, things are just not available (even certain youtube or other online streaming isn’t available). Some other times though, some people just do not have means (money or even a bank account, much less a credit card these days) of obtaining things online. And when that is true, there exists a very high likelihood that one will obtain things through torrents or other means. Besides, since people tend to like to boast with material possessions, and as long as that stays the case, people will generally like to have a real physical copy of the best stuff that they might have downloaded illegally before. You know: CD for music still seems more real and better than just a digital copy. Furthermore I would prefer to have a vinyl disc for my favorite songs, especially if the quality of the sound is “mandatory” – and more and more people, who appreciate music are beginning to do the same thing, which means, that finite amount of discs is created and people who want it buy it.
This brings me to another point. The basic rule of economics is that there is not enough things to satisfy everyone’s needs and wants. And as soon as there is a product with a finite amount, its price is going to rise accordingly, while digital copies will always be low in price and even value to some extent, just because they are infinite in its theoretical digital form. So, if you want to excel in one area, digital starts might be perfect, so you can find out what things of yours people want to buy, or just so that you can learn to do something better. And when you are “there”, when you are at the point where you feel like going “full-time” doing that, you can continue to provide certain “samples” or even everything in lower quality than original to the general audience, and sell your originals for bigger bucks to those who want to really buy your stuff. That kind of examples are especially true with music (original being on a CD or even better on a Vinyl disc), photography (originals being prints (possibly limited in print and raw files destroyed) or analogue prints from analogue film, where the negative needs not be destroyed, because every single analogue print is in a way original, since every piece is unique) and graphic design (prints). Sometimes even art can be sold that way by making photos of originals and printing them for small bucks, while selling original for more.
One interesting thing is that, what we now call (digital) piracy, used to be a common practice in especially Netherlands with painters. For example when Rembrandt was on the national stage as the greatest painter, everyone copied him and his style. Granted every piece was still in a way original (way more than digital copies are nowadays), but it was also a good duplicate. Did Rembrandt worry a lot about that? Nope. He actually knew that his stuff was good enough (though better than he might have thought?) for the public, and so he got a lot of recognition from people who copied him. Thus “piracy” helped make him as an accomplished and revered painter (of course his talent was great, but copies made him known).
One final note to whoever reads this. When you do see a movie, you download it, please tell people if it is good enough to go watch it to the movies if they can (or even buy it). When you download music, also be critical about it and tell around if it is good and why (or why not even). If you enjoy it, please buy it – this will help the authors make more. When you download software, don’t make money on it, use it as a learning tool. When you fetch photos from online sources, please remember the author and give him credits. When there is signature or copyright text on the work, please be kind enough and not remove it. Remember: do unto others as you want them do to you, which means in this case, that you ask for permission for when that is needed (copyrights notices for fonts, music, apps, photos, etc.) and you will be positively surprised how gladly will the authors send you their stuff. Sometimes we are even so joyful that someone contacts us, that we would gladly send them a gift too.
P.S.: (for Authors: be kind to people who ask for your stuff, your reward will be, if not else, a good word that will be spread about you. Also it is good when you do undersign your work so that you can be found more easily and fill in meta and description online. Be reachable and not grumpy.)