We are well into the year of 2011 and technology is continuing to advance and a faster and faster rate. As technology advances there continues to be more of an opportunity for things to go wrong. The ability of our society to obtain information has been becoming as easy as it has ever been. I simple line into the google search bar and you are looking at millions upon millions of lings and opportunities to attain information. With this source and hundreds or even thousands of these resources just like it, piracy and copyright issues have never been more of a problem.
And a very serious problem at that. Copyright is defined as a set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. The exclusive rights are however balanced for public interest purposes with limitations and exceptions to the exclusive right – such as fair dealing and fair use.
Copyright does not protect ideas, only their expression.
In most jurisdictions copyright arises upon fixation and does not need to be registered. Copyright owners have the exclusive statutory right to exercise control over copying and other exploitation of the works for a specific period of time, after which the work is said to enter the public domain (1). While piracy is simply defined as the unauthorized use of another’s production, invention, or conception especially in infringement of a copyright (2). The definition of these two is strongly correlated and leaves them both dealing with the same issues that have been plaguing the creative minds of many people in recent times.
Copyright and piracy issues have had a huge effect on how we are able to access information on the internet. Information is going to continue to get more difficult to attain the further into the future we get, but how will this directly effect us?
First a generalized overview over the types of copyright and piracy strategies. The most common types of piracy of copyright-protected materials concerns books, music, films and software. Books: Book publishing has the longest history of dealing with piracy. Any unauthorized use of a copyrighted work, such as a book, school manual, journal article or sheet music, represents an infringement of copyright or a case of copyright piracy, unless covered by a copyright exception. Piracy of printed works affects both paper copies and works in digital format. In some developing countries, trade in pirated books often exceeds the legitimate market. Educational institutions represent a primary target market for pirates. Infringing activities include both illegal commercial photocopying and/or printing and reproduction of books and other printed material in digital form, as well as distribution in hard copy or digital format.
Music: Music piracy includes both traditional unlawful use of music and unauthorized use of music on on-line communication networks. Bootlegging (unauthorized recording and duplication of a live or broadcast performance) and counterfeiting (unauthorized copying of the material support, labels, artwork and packaging) are the most widespread types of traditional music piracy. The unauthorized uploading and making available to the public of music files or downloading such files from an Internet site is referred to as Internet or on-line piracy. On-line piracy may also include certain uses of “streaming” technologies. Films: As in the case of music, film piracy is either traditional or done over the Internet. It includes, but is not limited to, videocassette and optical disc piracy, theatrical camcorder piracy, theatrical print theft, signal theft and broadcasting piracy, and on-line piracy. Software: Software piracy refers to practices that involve the unauthorized copying of computer software.
Internet (on-line) piracy: The unauthorized downloading or distribution over the Internet of unauthorized copies of works such as movies, music, video games and software is generally referred to as Internet or on-line piracy. Illicit downloads occur through file-sharing networks, illegal servers, websites and hacked computers. Hard goods pirates also use the Internet to sell illegally duplicated DVDs through auctions and websites.While trafficking copyrighted works through increasingly sophisticated electronic means, such as peer-to-peer file trading networks, Internet chat rooms, and newsgroups, has an ever increasing negative impact on cultural industries, it is also argued that curtailing this phenomenon limits the right of access to information, knowledge and culture (4).
The problem in trying to prevent digital copyright infringement is tied up in the problem of regulating the Internet – an almost impossible feat, considering the World Wide Web today comprises more than 100 million individual Web sites. Regulators have been severely tried in recent years with the rise of peer-to-peer networks, with the most infamous being Napster. The brainchild of a 19-year-old college student, Napster launched in 1999 and revolutionized the way music sharing was conducted online. However, with such a quick rise to success comes the inevitable problems; in this case, the problems arose in the form of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and copyright lawsuits. While users of Napster saw nothing wrong with sharing music, the RIAA, which represents the four major music labels, saw the situation quite differently. By late 2000, the courts had ruled that Napster must restrict access to copyrighted files, a death-blow to the young network, for all intents and purposes.
The media industry probably thought it was in the clear after the Napster fall-out, and to a degree it was, until a new source of copyright infringement rose up in 2005 and became even more widely success than Napster. The story of YouTube, an online video-sharing network, is reminiscent of the beginnings of its music predecessor, Napster. Founded in February of 2005 by two 20-somethings, the idea for the company arose due to difficulties in sharing home videos with friends. When the site launched in May 2005, it contained about 30,000 videos. As with Napster, word of mouth allowed the company’s popularity to spread like wildfire. Less than 20 months later, visitors to the site watched 100 million videos a day. While many visitors to YouTube go to see the homemade videos, the company shares another similarity to Napster: its success is, in part, due to the illegal sharing of copyrighted files. YouTube’s terms of service forbid sharing of copyrighted materials, and the company monitors content to limit the number of violations, but copyrighted material still gets through.
With such material widely popular among users of the site, the companies whose videos were being shared on the site saw the situation differently. In March of 2006, NBC asked YouTube to remove a Saturday Night Live skit. Viacom soon followed suit, threatening action against YouTube if it did not remove clips from Comedy Central shows like South Park and The Daily Show. Many industry insiders speculated that YouTube’s fate would follow in the footsteps of Napster. Rather than sit idly by, however, YouTube took action. The company began signing licensing agreements with companies including Warner Music, Sony BMG and CBS Corp., allowing the content providers to supply the clips and share in advertising revenue. YouTube also attempted to assuage the companies’ concerns with a promise to develop new software capable of finding and removing copyrighted materials.
The biggest hope for YouTube, however, lies in its acquisition by Google, the search engine giant worth approximately $130 billion, which paid $1.65 billion to purchase YouTube on Oct. 9, 2006. While this acquisition did not remove the threat of future lawsuits, most analysts believed the power of Google and its many existing media partnerships will allow YouTube to avoid Napster’s fate. Additionally, Google’s technological advantages in finding and removing copyright infringement threats go far in easing the minds of the media companies. In my opinion Google’s many existing partnerships suggest that these companies will continue to do business with a Google-owned YouTube, rather than following the legal path they did with Napster and its related music piracy companies (3).
The example of Napster and YouTube is a very generalized and a very modern look at the issue of copyright and piracy issues but I also feel that they are very high scale cases that represent the problem at hand very well. There are millions of similar small scale websites such as these that are stealing information and making money off of other peoples work. But as stated by Jessica Vitak above, how could you possibly be able to monitor such a vast array of internet sites? It is almost impossible to even fathom. Now that these two giants have brought the issue of copyright and piracy into the general publics eye we need to explore how this will effect the collection of information in our lives.
Following up Napster and YouTube the new revolution with high speed internet connections is the ability to go after movies. As we know and have seen there is a lot of power in Hollywood. It is a multi-billion dollar industry and is a point of serious concern. A movie is a large amount of information that takes a lot of time and internet speed to be able to download. But again with the advancement of technology getting this type of file is no long more than a 20 minute download period.
Many argue to say that this can have great effect on our economy because of the amount of money that this industry brings in. The Motion Picture Association of America warned against a “growing global epidemic” of movie piracy over the Internet this week, citing a survey of Internet users in which nearly one in four respondents had illegally downloaded a movie online. The study, conducted by online research company OTX, queried 3600 Net users in eight countries, and was cited by the MPAA as the harbinger of the tough times the industry faces ahead in grappling with online piracy.
Although the MPAA participated in delivering the survey results it did not fund the study, an OTX representative says, adding that the company undertook the survey independently. According to the survey, 24 percent of respondents reported that they had downloaded a movie online, and 69 percent said that they did not believe that online music piracy was a major concern. The study was performed in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S., and shows a direct correlation between broadband penetration and the incidence of piracy, the researcher says. In Korea, for instance, where broadband penetration is estimated to stand at 98 percent, 58 percent of respondents said that they had downloaded a movie online (5). These are clearly alarming numbers and much higher than I think any one would guess if they were asked but, now that we know how high those numbers are what exactly is the effect. Clearly there must be a large loss of money but how great?
And is that a number that we can even guesstimate on? The economic impact of movie piracy equated to $1.37 billion in lost revenue to the Australian economy and 6,100 jobs forgone over the 12 months to July 2010, according to a new report from the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT). The report, carried out by IPSOS and Oxford Economics and surveying 3500 adults, also found tax losses to movie piracy amounted to $193 million, while direct consumer spending losses to the movie industry, local distributors, producers and retailers amounted to $575 million. As much as one third of the Australian adult population had downloaded, streamed, burned or otherwise not paid for movie content during the period. Some 92 million pirated movies were also estimated to have been viewed or obtained within the period. According to AFACT executive director, Neil Gane, the findings showed that movie piracy had a destructive impact throughout the economy.
“The film community is no different than any other sector of the economy that relies on skill, investment and hard work,” Gane said in a statement. “The losses are significant and the report highlights the need for urgency in addressing this problem.” AFACT members include Village Roadshow Limited, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Australia, Paramount Pictures Australia, Sony Pictures Releasing International Corporation and Twentieth Century Fox International. In September the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said it had embarked on a major crackdown of counterfeit goods, including pirated software, computers and CDs and DVDs, in a move hailed by as a victory by software companies such as Microsoft and representatives of the music and film and TV industries.
The arrests were the result of investigations which had stemmed from information provided by industry stakeholders such as Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI), the Australian Federation against Copyright Theft (AFACT), the Trade Mark Investigations Service and the Union of European Football Associations (6). To me these numbers are amazingly alarming and are clearly a huge issue. Though they are not numbers from the United States of America they make it very evident that this is a world wide epidemic. The way that our economy is these days we cant afford to be losing out on any amount of money, let alone billions.