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People are sharing copyrighted files over the Internet every day and in every part of the world. It’s a huge problem for record labels, film studios, TV companies, and the creative people behind the albums, movies, television shows that are being shared.

The authorities in many countries are actively trying to counter online piracy, but their methods for doing so vary wildly and rarely work. As is the case with the state-funded “three strikes and you’re out” law in France, which has now been changed to remove the threat of an individual being disconnected from the Internet.

This Week’s Question…

We want to know, What Should Be Done About Online Piracy? Many of the laws being used to tackle the problem of piracy — both those already in existence and those being newly created — are failing to prevent people from continuing to source copyrighted material for free over the Internet. Even shutting down infamous websites helping people share and stream media files (such as Megaupload Why MegaUpload, And Who's Next? Why MegaUpload, And Who's Next? In the middle of some very aggressive anti-SOPA/PIPA protests, the feds managed to prove that they don't need to pass such a bill to pull the plug on a certain internet website. The casualty this... Read More ) is failing to curb the issue.

So, what, if anything, should the authorities be doing to prevent online piracy? Is it a case of gently persuading people that there is another, better way of doing things? Is it providing services that offer legal methods for obtaining movies 7 Legal Ways To Watch Movies Online For Free 7 Legal Ways To Watch Movies Online For Free With the advent of the Internet, media delivery has become so easy and so convenient for us. It started with music but quickly moved to include TV shows and feature-length films, and in the wake... Read More and music in an affordable way? Is it charging people with criminal offences or cutting off their Internet connections when they’re caught sharing files online?

I suspect there will be some, or indeed many, of you who don’t feel anything should be done about online piracy. In fact, you may believe file-sharing and/or illicit streaming of copyrighted material shouldn’t be classified as piracy at all 4 Ways In Which Internet Piracy Can Be a Good Thing [Opinion] 4 Ways In Which Internet Piracy Can Be a Good Thing [Opinion] Back in January, users of the Internet were faced with an interesting phenomenon - the SOPA/PIPA blackout. When American legislators introduced a bill that would give unprecedented power to the government over the Internet, consumers... Read More . You are, of course, entitled to that opinion, and we want to hear your views as well.

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To sum up…

  • Tell us your views on online piracy, whether you’re for or against.
  • If you’re pro-piracy justify your belief that it’s OK to share/steal content.
  • If you’re anti-piracy tell us what you think the authorities should do to counter it.

Drawing Conclusions

All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told Us.One reader will even win Comment Of The Weekwhich will be included in the follow-up post! What more motivation than that do you need to respond?

We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to necessitate a discussion. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to the MakeUseOf readership. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

Image Credit: Richard Winchell

  1. Dick Thrust
    January 1, 2015 at 1:24 am

    Do nothing. The government will not win this war, they have no chance. Free Video Games, Movies, TV Shows, Live Streaming Sports, and Free Music. We the people will always find away to get theses things for free. Why pay 60$ for that new game when i can go get it for free. Why go pay 15$ to go to the movies when i can get it for free. Why pay for nba league pass when i can watch any basketball game for free online.Why pay for cable when u can get it for free. For people like me i do not care at all how that movie company makes its money, i dont care how that game company makes there money. I dont care about anyone or anything other than myself and my own. Why the f**k should i care that rich people cant get richer. If u can get something for free, get it. And its the governments own fault that me and alot of other people in this country think this way. So honestly its funny to me that they want to stop something they created. LOL. But no lets not work on social issues, economic issues, lets focus on poor people who get things for free and call it illegal piracy. Maybe get rid of poverty and get the country right and maybe people will care. Stop wasteing money on useless laws and acts.

  2. Tim V
    August 3, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    In a lot of European countries it is still too hard to rent and/or buy movies online, or it's still ridiculously expensive. As long as illegal downloading is more convenient than the legal path, there won't be much change. By the way, in countries like Belgium there are still no services like Hulu or Netflix, only the iTunes movie store, which is ridiculously overpriced for movies that you can find for 5 EUR on a DVD disc. (rent for HD movies range from 4 ~ 6 EUR)

    I have no problem paying for IP, as long as it isn't ridiculously expensive nor too hard to do so. So, Netflix/Hulu/random streaming service, come to Belgium and TAKE MY MONEY!

  3. Lisa Santika O
    July 15, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    I have written about this in my personal website, but since I don't know MUO's linking policy I won't link it here.
    I think the battle started by copyright owners would be a phyrric victory over time if they insist on doing it their way. We can't deny that people like their stuff free. They don't like to be forced. By offering more flexible pricing and ironing problems about ownership of digital media they should be able to win people over back to legal side.

    • Dave P
      July 15, 2013 at 10:52 pm

      AFAIK you're OK to share links as long as they add to the conversation, but I could be wrong. I'd certainly like to read your views on the subject.

      You're an advocate of the softly-softly approach rather than this DO AS WE SAY OR ELSE strategy they seem to have adopted then?

      • Lisa Santika O
        July 16, 2013 at 11:34 am

        I'm sure most people don't like to be told what they can or can't do with 'their' media (I use the term loosely here to refer to anything piratable). What we need to do is to create a win-win situation. Media industry as distributor now act high and mighty until they realize they'd be nothing when people stop giving a damn. On the other hand, customers want their entertainment/software/etc and they can't demand everyone to give what they want for free. At the other end of the chain, we have the creators, who should be respected because of obvious reasons. Now we may think they demand so much, but once we assume the position of creator ourselves, we'll realize that we need money as well. This isn't an excuse to price a creation ludicrously, of course. With the advent of easy self-publishing in today's world, we can cut the middlemen so consumers pay directly to creators (this is my preferred solution). This will lessen the cost and lower the price.

        Well, I usually share links as well, but since this is my own link, I'm a bit wary about self-promotion issue.
        Here's the link: http://lisasantikaonggrid.com/my-stance-on-piracy-and-else/

  4. John
    July 15, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Oh, and if it wasn't obvious I guess I may not have directly answered the question, I apologize. My answer is "nothing should be done to stop piracy". In fact, the laws should be changed to encourage it. The poorest people in the world will have access to impressive, valuable and life changing content they've never had access to before and the Britney Spears of the world will be reduced a few million.

  5. John
    July 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    The debate isn't whether Online Piracy is Theft which are two fundamentally different things but whether Online Piracy should remain illegal and if so, how it should be dealt with. Theft is stealing physical goods from someone so that that person no longer has his original goods. Piracy involves copying something so that the original owner and the pirate both have the same goods. One person Steals, the other Copies.

    On a fundamental level, this type of piracy - unauthorized copying - has been happening for much longer than the internet, or even the digital revolution. Seeing what someone else has and attempting to copy it has existed probably ever since man first used tools. Adam invented fire, and Adam2 said "Well that's a great idea, I'm totally going to pirate that". That quote isn't verbatim of course. They had no idea what a pirate was. The modern issue with piracy now is not that people have been copying ideas, music, paintings, ... for millennium, just that it has gotten too easy for untalented people like myself to do so perfectly. Back in the day, anyone could have a copy of a nice piece of music or painting, assuming you were a good artist yourself and capable of reproducing the art. People had no problem with that, and still don't considering the amount of work available online for free (legally) with people copying other people's work and showing off their talent at the same time. Why is that okay but to not allow me to use technology to be able to do the same without having the talent to do so wrong? Since when does 'talent' change morality? Either it's immoral and should be illegal for an individual to personally copy Stairway to Heaven in the privacy of his home with his talent, instruments and recording studio OR it is amoral and should be legal for an untalented individual like myself to use technology to do what people have done since the beginning of man, copy.

    Disclaimer: I've purchased hundreds of albums and software titles over the years. I continue to financially support the artists that I know will use that money to continue producing more music that I want to hear. I consider it an investment in my future enjoyment. I've listened to plenty of music from artists that I haven't paid for whether through free services like spotify, pandora, radio, friend's music as well as other sources. But if I don't care about future artistic contributions from that artist it is doubtful that he will ever receive money from me. As always, where money goes content creation follows. Thus I spend my money on favorite artists not really for their current content as I can get it for free if I really wanted to, but to ensure that those specific artists continue to produce content I want.

    • Lisa Santika O
      July 16, 2013 at 11:38 am

      This is very interesting and I nodded my head all along. I can't say I fully agree with the second part of your argument ("...and the Britney Spears of the world will be reduced a few million.") because it seems to contradict what you say above (about appreciating and supporting artists). Nevertheless, this is pretty convincing.

      • John
        July 16, 2013 at 1:37 pm

        Well, that last bit is certainly more subjective than the rational approach used arrive at the conclusion that piracy is good. Thanks for commenting. I guess my general thought on the matter is that if people only have to pay for the music they choose to support and they only have X amount of cash; then more of that X cash is going to go to smaller bands where they feel their money will have a stronger impact. I would certainly feel more inclined to support a favorite no-name artist financially then Metallica. The no-name artist may even know my name because of the limited support, where-as to Metallica I'd be a no-name donor. Metallica would still be rich though as they can draw large crowds to concerts, sell lots of physical products (shirts, ...) and so forth. It's just that I suspect they would receive less in CD sales.

        I very well could be wrong though as economically increasing freedom has a tendency to surprise people with the increase in finances that often comes.

      • John
        July 16, 2013 at 1:40 pm

        That, and as I don't really like Spears and other teenage type music I tend to think that teenagers, who have little money anyways, would rarely pay for her stuff. And most adults find other avenues of music that pull them away from Spears (if they liked her to begin with). So less CD sales though her concerts would probably still be packed assuming she would receive the same publicity through big-music companies, which for reasons too lengthy to go into here I think is unlikely given legal piracy.

  6. R.s. H
    July 15, 2013 at 12:58 am

    This whole "piracy" thing is going to end up like the "war on drugs" if it keeps moving forward. There will never be a victor. The only ones it will hurt are the less fortunate from poorer countries. Then again what can corporations take from those that have nothing. This isn't the late 80's where there is some guy selling VHS' outside of 7-11 at 3 for $10. It's not stealing revenue from a company if you never intended to purchase it to begin with!
    I think the legality of it doesn't effect whether people download files or not. Again the same as "the war on drug", It's going to be there like it always has been since the days of the BBS. I might download a crack for some software I just paid $80 for to be able to use said software on multiple computers, is that stealing? If I have a portable device that uses the same software as my desktop (a computer that sits stationary for you younger readers) I would be inclined to do whatever I had to to insure both computers are running the same software. In the case of Autocad, 3DS Max or Photoshop we are talking about programs that cost from $3-4K per suite. Am I gonna pay $700 for another license to run these programs on another computer after forking out that kind of dough. Not likely! Who is stealing from who?

    The corporations should turn inward and ask themselves, "are we giving the consumer a fair amount of 1's and 0's for the price?". Is it greed when a giant corporation has made a billion dollars off an idea and then wants your $80 as well? The government should stop wasting our taxes on such frivolous things unless it plans on public executions to make people stop. If i make $20k a year and you fine me $10k for every song I downloaded, I downloaded 5,000 songs by the way, where is this going to end up. Are you gonna put me in some private run prison where it cost $1200 a day to house me? Will the $1.47 I earn per day inside add up to the initial fines where I would be able to pay it back? I'm not a math wiz but I see a net loss unless I draw an additional line through the minus sign in that equation! Enough rambling. From my statements it would be fair to assume that I am against more non-winnable tax gouging wars on "things".

  7. Tim B
    July 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Online Piracy wouldn't be so common if software wasn't so expensive. If I could sell my old copy of Office or Windows when I no longer used it, or trade it in...that would be fairer and lead to less temptation to download a hooky copy. To some extent the same can be said of music and games...they are ridiculously expensive yet advertised so much that some people feel the need to own them at any cost.

    • Dave P
      July 14, 2013 at 11:32 pm

      I agree wholeheartedly. If prices of content, particularly that which essentially has no physical worth, were fairer, piracy would be much less popular. In fact, it wouldn't even have risen in the way that it has.

    • Paul O
      July 15, 2013 at 12:15 am

      I too agree and that is why I switched to a Mac the operating system was $20 vs. the $200 for the Windows upgrade.

      From the standpoint of software on the other hand, there is a greater amount of quality software that is similar to the high cost software. For example, instead of spending $100 - $200 for Microsoft Office, I use OpenOffice which is free and has the same functionality as MS Office (though the interface is slightly different) and if you search you can add functionality that allows the editing of PDF and other functions... all for free.

  8. Druv V
    July 13, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    There's no stopping piracy. Nowadays when something is online, it will surely get pirated within hours. Music and Videos are the first. Then it comes to Games and Softwares. Searching for a particular download on Google will point you to the pirated ones within the first results. Its a no-win battle against piracy.

    Even if ISPs would stop unlimited data usage, and make us pay for what we use, it would mean bad business for them.

    Almost anybody can download stuff from the Internet, so if you have an Internet connection, its upto the user to honestly respect the makers and producers of the content, and to buy it.

    The weird bit would be if there was no content at all to download....

    • Dave P
      July 14, 2013 at 11:31 pm

      Which could potentially happen if piracy kills the underlying concept of artist creates work, consumer enjoys work, consumer pays artist.

  9. Mark
    July 13, 2013 at 2:59 am

    I don't illegally download but feel I should be able too.
    I want to be able to have the same TV and movies that are released at the same time as the people in the countries that make that TV get them (did that make sense?)... And I want everyone everywhere to be able to get it too.
    A solution would be to create a website on which you can donate money to nominated TV shows. The company running the website would pass the money onto that network/TV show (in countries such as Australia it could go to foxtell). They provide you with a receipt (maybe some kind of licence) to download that show from wherever you want (you cannot put a price on the show, or a minimum price, as people will start doing it illegally again).
    Yeah there will be problems but it would be way better (artists / bands that give away donate albums on the internet have proved that this system will work and people will donate).

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:53 am

      That kind of system would take some major organizing, but it's certainly not without merit. People clearly resent paying middlemen and would rather see their money going straight to the people actually responsible for the content.

  10. Bryan
    July 12, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    The only problem is broken copyright and outdated business models. Online piracy took hold globally when the technology facilitated it and current distribution models (MPAA & RIAA) fought against it. Not adapting to changes in their line-of-business should have caused these businesses to fail, laws will NOT increase profit.

    There also comes a global ecosystem where many foreign releases can not be obtained by other legal means, users have no use but to download.

    Evolve or die, right?

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:52 am

      I think media companies are slowly but surely realizing they need to evolve... look at how gigs and merchandising has become more important as record sales flounder. It's a slow process though.

  11. Christopher C
    July 12, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    The only reason piracy isn't a major issue currently is because there is consequence for the actions of people. Why would I buy things when I can get them for free? Humans are inherently selfish it's in our nature it's what ensured that we were going to survive and not die as a link in the evolutionary chain.

    Now on the other end, I don't think that it is right in the slightest that the record labels are able to make these ridiculous penal damage claims of millions of dollars for the downloading of an album or or game or film both sides of the battle are are a bit unreasonable.

    So to conclude think about it like this, the record labels, movie studios, and game developers are pulling the wagon eventually they are going to get tired of that wagon as their incentive dwindles and no one will be left to pull that wagon.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:51 am

      So, what should be done to keep media companies chugging along without instituting stupid laws that see individuals owing millions of dollars for petty crimes?

  12. Mike Freeman
    July 12, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    I'm not pro- anything illegal. However, I think it is a practical indicator of something broken in the industry. The more DRM and other restrictions you place on viewing a movie or listening to music, and the higher the cost of the media, the more likely the average consumer is to turn to piracy. The more freedom you give and the more fair your pricing, the less piracy will happen.

    Also, it's been demonstrated that piracy can in some cases be good for the industry. People who get pirated versions of media will often end up buying and promoting to their friends it if it's good, and get rid of the pirated version if it's not. It's used sort of like a demo to see if it's worth the price.?

    So, in the end, if we get rid of DRM and other restrictions, price media fairly, and acknowledge that some piracy will happen (but still enforce the laws against it when necessary so people understand it's not acceptable), piracy will be reduced.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:50 am

      You nailed it with that last paragraph. It really is about both sides giving something up... the media companies realizing they need to be fairer on price, the consumers realizing that piracy is illegal, no matter how you dress it up.

  13. Tristan K
    July 12, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    There are worst problems in life than pirating something you can't physically hold in your hand. People get shot, people are in trouble, and police and government are more interested in online piracy. How do you think some of the program developers got famous? Some of the fame had to come from somewhere?, right? Not all people who pirate are bad guys, and the police and government should look into better things to do than cripple the internet with PIPA, or some stupid other act, and waste more of our public money. And they wonder why we are broke as a country ? They wonder why everything is failing? There is better things to do in life than crippling or taking away our freedom, why don't they work on better things like fixing the education system they just destroyed.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:48 am

      It's likely a tiny fraction of the government's money being spent on piracy, and I certainly think they rank crime and education above piracy on the list of priorities.

  14. Adi S
    July 12, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    So it is not a problem.

  15. Adi S
    July 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    The people that don't have the money Pirate simple as that. So online piracy is letting people download things which they wouldn't get or "Pay for'" anyway.

  16. Vipul J
    July 12, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    This is what I think should be done so that Piracy wouldn't bother people anymore and Artists can keep getting revenues!

    Games - Release them as usual, preferrably free, but base the game on in-app purchase, it's pretty hard to crack those kind of games.
    Once someone tries that game, if he/she gets a hang of it, they'd 70-80% pay for upgrades!

    TV Shows/Movies - You simply cannot stop piracy in this section! So what you can do is put your movies and TV up for viewing with ads, IMO people would love to watch online for free and wouldn't mind those few ads.

    Softwares - Pretty tough to stop piracy here as well sine anyone who buys can upload the stuff, but online server checks might come in handy. Like Windows 8 was a huge deal for crackers, they were just able to make trial resetters not actual activators!

    Music - Almost like Movies/TV, upload them to soundcloud or someplace where people can listen. Preferably make a video or put up a lyrics video on youtube to get ad revenue.

    Apart from all the this, keep releasing everything the way it is because many people still prefer to collect originals and find them dependable!

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:46 am

      Much of what you suggest is happening already, and the likes of Spotify, Hulu, and Netflix has indeed helped wean people of the need to pirate.

      Part of the problem however is that consumers are even rejecting ads these days, and trying everything they can to block them from appearing. Which really isn't helping matters. Pay to consume or watch ads to lessen the impact... you can't do neither without there being consequences for the industries involved.

  17. Switchblade S
    July 12, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Pro Piracy

    Why?

    Well if you're a GFX Artist who uses Photoshop and live in a Third World country, would you be able to afford Photoshop CS6 or CC at such a high price? Just look at today's GFX artists from around third world countries. They use Photoshop even though pirated.

    Piracy is "COPYING" not "STEALING" of content. There is a clear difference of the two.

    About the losses companies claim? It's losses based on the copied/pirated content e.g. 50 pirated "Sony Movie Studio" software are accounted for.

    Another thing, the definition of piracy in the general sense is that you steal not copy stuff, which actually defeats the meaning of online piracy that I've stated earlier.

    As far as digital media is concerned (e.g. movies, series dvd's, music), I honestly don't have a problem since no matter what the companies claim, the artists are obviously still millionaires! And this is a fact because if "Piracy" affects them, then explain how the so called losses didn't affect their net worth?

    As far as software is concerned, still no problem. Sure there is the "use linux based OS" suggestion, but in today's world Windows dominates the PC world, and Android and iOS dominate the mobile world. All of us deserves something that can either make our lives more comfortable, or just for perks, or to make us more productive. And it's the user's choice if he should support the developers if he's impressed or not.

    From what I've seen and heard so far, no cases of piracy caused a shutdown of a company, so leave the digital pirates alone, and let those with the cash pay for the stuff they want.

    P.S. I suggest that the word pirate in the digital/online sense be changed to something else, that best defines them.

  18. Switchblade S
    July 12, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Pro Piracy

    Why?

    Well if you're a GFX Artist who uses Photoshop and live in a Third World country, would you be able to afford Photoshop CS6 or CC at such a high price? Just look at today's GFX artists from around third world countries. They use Photoshop even though pirated.

    Piracy is "COPYING" not "STEALING" of content. There is a clear difference of the two.

    About the losses companies claim? It's losses based on the copied/pirated content e.g. 50 pirated "Sony Movie Studio" software are accounted for.

    Another thing, the definition of piracy in the general sense is that you steal not copy stuff, which actually defeats the meaning of online piracy that I've stated earlier.

    As far as digital media is concerned (e.g. movies, series dvd's, music), I honestly don't have a problem since no matter what the companies claim, the artists are obviously still millionaires! And this is a fact because if "Piracy" affects them, then explain how the so called losses didn't affect their net worth?

    As far as software is concerned, still no problem. Sure there is the "use linux based OS" suggestion, but in today's world Windows dominates the PC world, and Android and iOS dominate the mobile world. All of us deserves something that can either make our lives more comfortable, or just for perks, or to make us more productive. And it's the user's choice if he should support the developers if he's impressed or not.

    From what I've seen and heard so far, no cases of piracy caused a shutdown of a company, so leave the digital pirates alone, and let those with the cash pay for the stuff they want.

    P.S. I suggest that the word pirate in the digital/online sense be changed to something else, that best defines them.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:43 am

      Not all content creators are millionaires, but I take your point that all the while bands such as U2 and movie directors such as Michael Bay are making millions of dollars each year it's hard to feel any sympathy towards them.

  19. Zhong J
    July 12, 2013 at 3:21 am

    As the internet right now, it's currently impossible to regulate the massive overflow of information occurring in second lapse of time and there are always people who would upload content that's copyrighted or under their jurisdiction to share such information. However companies aren't losing profits or their revenue because a guy from his basement upload a movie from them and share it. They argued that if guys like him be prevented or eliminated then their profit will grow and it's for their own gain.

    If companies recognize the nature of the Internet then they wouldn't act like someone have stole their fortune.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:41 am

      The Internet has changed the goalposts, and no mistake. However, should a new medium such as the Internet mean content creators should no longer expect to get paid for their efforts?

      • Victor O
        July 14, 2013 at 12:14 am

        This discussion is about what is needed to be done about piracy, not whether or not it is "good" or "bad." Simply put, it is wrong, but there's nothing you can do about it other than to make better and better anti-piracy techniques.

  20. Victor O
    July 11, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Well, is piracy really a problem that can be solved? While we can all agree that pirating things off the internet is a bad thing, but is there really any way to stop them?

    Simply put, there is no feasible way to do this. There are two problems: the first being that pirated material is being shared on legitimate websites. The second is that internet censorship is very strongly spoken against.

    First, it is very hard, if not impossible, to weed out pirated materials without touching legitimate material. Sites such as mediafire host very, very legitimate files, but also many pirated materials. One would require a huge workforce and permission from a particular site to crawl their servers, looking for any pirated material.
    Also, bittorrent host legitimate files, but also pirated content. However, because it is P2P, it is virtually impossible to track down these "offenders." Besides, if different sites get shut down for copyright violations, people would simply migrate to another site, simply moving the problem, not eliminating it.

    Secondly comes the issue of privacy and internet censorship. If, by some amazing feat, one manages to get the manpower needed to crawl internet sharing sites, they would immediately get shutdown by privacy movements. The internet is defined (mostly) as a free and open place, so when an organization like the government tries to regulate it, the internet pushed back, hard.

    Unless enough manpower is amassed and internet censorship is permitted worldwide, one cannot do much against internet piracy. Thus, there is one answer: don't do anything. It would simply be a complete and utter waste of resources.

    • Mike
      July 11, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      According to leaked documents,if TPP is implemented with it's proposed copyright provisions intact,copyright owner's worries will be at an end. The TPP wants $10,000 fines for merely clicking on a copyright protected video on Youtube,for example,with a lifetime ban on internet access for three time offenders. See: stopthetrap.net for more info.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:40 am

      You may have a point that anything the authorities do is pointless, but by doing nothing is it not like saying piracy is fine, do as much of it as you want to?

      • Victor O
        July 14, 2013 at 12:15 am

        This discussion is about what is needed to be done about piracy, not whether or not it is "good" or "bad." Simply put, it is wrong, but there's nothing you can do about it other than to make better and better anti-piracy techniques.

        • Dave P
          July 14, 2013 at 11:30 pm

          True, but by suggesting piracy is fine by its (in)actions wouldn't that exacerbate rather than fix the problem?

        • Victor O
          July 15, 2013 at 12:27 am

          One could always perform anti-piracy campaigns, but most people's minds are already made-up. Of course, make it clear that it is wrong to pirate, but spending resources trying to stop people from pirating materials is simply not going to work.

  21. Gravity D
    July 11, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    I admit I pirate EVERYTHING (well almost everything).
    and my reason in 90% cases was PRICE and other 10% included convenience.

    Bloody Governments can spend millions and billions to safeguard corporate interest's where they have other, very serious issues to deal with.

    and personally I think piracy is important otherwise these companies will dominate the price and no will be able to oppose it :(

    for example - an xbox game is priced around 60$ in US then it is exactly the same in india, ie around 3500 rupees but what these companies do not understand is that earning capacity of every country citizen is not same...DAMN!
    and then there are those EXPENSIVE accessories...

    cut the price and I will reduce, if not STOP, pirating (:

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:38 am

      Having similar prices in different regions of the world is a bizarre problem, but it's surely only one factor as to why people pirate.

      What do you think would be a fair price for a new Xbox 360 game in India?

      • Gravity D
        July 14, 2013 at 9:12 pm

        well, if you ask a "fair" price then I would say something between 20$-40$.

        PC games in India are sold for 1000 Indian rupees more or less, so for a console game I can pay a maximum of 1000 rupees extra, I repeat, 1000 rupees over PC games is MAXIMUM...

        but I am damn sure that this won't happen, so I would wait for the next consoles to be hacked :(

        • Dave P
          July 15, 2013 at 10:50 pm

          Do you think that pricing goods lower, and with similar values around the world, would ultimately kill piracy?

        • Gravity D
          July 18, 2013 at 6:16 am

          well I won't talk on the behalf of everyone, but yeah I will surely support the developers then and I am sure that there are many MANY more people like me in "not so rich" regions.

          That is why I understood the region-blocking of the games done by the M$ in 360 but with a same level of price tag they (and other publishers) blew away everything :(

          I believe that these companies should have a goal or something like that so that after achieving that goal they should offer their products at a very low price or better yet free.
          I mean literally, CoD makes so much even after this level of piracy, don't you think.

  22. michel
    July 11, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Piracy is not a problem for the consumer, it's a benefit. Large media conglomerates should not be allowed to profit from their business. Creators don't deserve compensation for their efforts.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:36 am

      You don't think creators deserve compensation for their efforts? That's a bizarre belief, in my opinion. Do you work for free or does someone pay you for what you do on a day to day basis?

  23. likefunbutnot
    July 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    I think copyright laws should be modernized. I think consumers should have a media access bill of rights such that our license to enjoy content that has been purchased can be shifted to new formats and devices freely if they aren't willing to provide access to a stored local copy. I think we need to have a different understanding of "theft" within the realm of digital media.

    None of this would benefit the media conglomerates that presently control our entertainment, but frankly those companies are living on borrowed time, propped up by a legal system that has grown up to support their continued existence.

    We kind of need to get our heads out of our collective asses and realize that the biggest problem entertainment media is concentrating control over it with a tiny number of companies. Those companies are their own worst enemies; predatory pricing, limiting access to their catalog, being slow to adopt new technologies and business models. Those are things that drive people to piracy in the first place.

    I am a pirate. I do it primarily as a matter of convenience, to get the experience I want for the media I choose to enjoy, or to shift to a format I find more agreeable (comic book pirates simply have a better product). I do believe in directly supporting media that I enjoy. That means that I continue to buy physical comic books that I don't actually read on paper, making sure that I pick of the new Game of Thrones box set when it's released and dropping money in tip jars for web sites whose ads I block. But I see no ethical problem with copying, altering or format-shifting digital media for my own convenience.

    So what should we do about piracy? How about coming to the understanding that the legal structure that characterizes certain actions thusly is silly and outdated, and we find a new framework that doesn't criminalize activities that I suspect the vast majority of internet-connected human beings at least occasionally choose to undertake.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:35 am

      There does need to be big changes made, but I fear that media companies -- and consumers, to a certain extent -- are stuck in one mindset and unable to see a new way of doing things. It'll take decades for anything real to change.

  24. GF
    July 11, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    I no longer buy CDs and similar because they are often badly recorded. Listening to them is sometimes an awful experience: lacking bass, too strong bass, not flat frequency response, awful distortion, secondary instruments too highlighted, altered spatiality of the instruments, songs that fade at the end when the music is at its best etc...
    Certain people into music-industries are simply criminals who destroy the good Sound and the pleasure to listen to it. I refuse to pay such bastards.

    That's why I listen to music from Internet for free (and sometimes I also download it for free).

    I am sorry for authors and players only, because they create the beautiful/wonderful songs I enjoy, they would deserve a reward, but there is not a way to pay them only.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:33 am

      Would you be in favor of paying artists directly then, bypassing the middlemen?

      If you think CDs sound terrible then I guess you have to blame the producers and sound engineers.

  25. Jim Gibson
    July 11, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Yes something should be done to stop folk downlowding material that is protected but it should be done by the publisher of the material rather than the autorities. The fact is a lot of company's do put codes within the DVD/CD that prevents copies being made. It will allow you to burn the disc to your PC but should you try to transfer the file to another disc it will copy but will not play.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:31 am

      There are nearly always ways around those restrictions though. Whatever measures the media companies introduce the pirates eventually find a way of bypassing them. It's like a giant game of cat and mouse.

  26. goodeye
    July 11, 2013 at 11:29 am

    It's always about the money. Hollywood wants to take as much as possible while the people want to give as little as possible. So I recommend a small compromise that allows ISPs to offer different tiers of access for an additional monthly fee. For example, an additional monthly $5 fee would allow users to access torrent sites and such.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:30 am

      That isn't a bad suggestion. Certainly tiered fees would be better than a flat fee for everyone.

  27. Martin R
    July 11, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Nothing. People who are pirates, including myself, pirate because: a) they want to try something out before buying it; b) they can't afford to buy that product; c) they live in a small town in a small country in which e-buying hardly exists and to buy a movie or a game they have to travel 150 kilometres to get to a store.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:29 am

      Playing devil's advocate for a second: do you not ever feel guilty about obtaining content for free with no money making its way to the creator?

  28. stephen ellwood
    July 11, 2013 at 9:07 am

    I disagree with most of the commentors in that widespread sharing of copyright material is a problem. However the music, television and film industry must be partly to blame for this. One the one hand Intellectual property must be respected as a type of property. The fact that it is easier to steal than physical property should not make stealing it any less of a crime. On the other hand television has, for the most part, presented itself as a free service. Buy a TV, plug in an aerial and free stuff comes to you over the airwaves etc. Of course its paid for by the advertisers and they must get a return on their investment. if people are downloading e.g. The Game of Thrones they are bypassing the advertising and the value chain is broken.

    Having spent some time in the US, trying to watch television I know that "free TV" is almost unwatchable. There are so many adverts and they are so invasive that I give up and rent a movie from the Hotel VOD service. Based on this perhaps its time to move to a pay-per-view model though its important to get the value proposition right. I'm guessing that the media companies will overvalue their IP and this will fail to get decent market traction.

    We have to remember that at any one time there are more songs being recorded, more films being made etc than any one person can watch i.e. we are in an oversupply situation where paying $1 per track download would seem excessive. Now that there is no physical media to create and distribute the distribution cost is close to 0, so there is no need to stick to this level of pricing.

    When I rented DVDs they cost $5 a time. This was a high cost distribution method. The same movie would probably make the same profit for the movie industry if they streamed it at $0.50. If they did this (and micropayments are now well established) and made it easy, the majority of downloaders would not bother, they would just pay.

    If we don't make this work there will not be enough money in the industry to make high quality programming. Arguably this has already started to happen. The downloaders will loose out because eventually there will be nothing left worth downloading. There is no such thing as FREE and its time we, as a global society, realized this.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:28 am

      Media companies seem to always overvalue their content and charge too much money for it. It seems to me like you're arguing for a middle ground to be found, and I have to say that's similar to my feelings on the subject.

  29. Katharine W
    July 11, 2013 at 8:36 am

    I admit that I pirate stuff. Mostly due to price/value or convenience. However I also try to pay for stuff when I feel I'm getting a good deal. I subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime for the streaming content because it's a good value. I also have Spotify Premium, which has completely stopped me from pirating music at all. Before Spotify was available in the U.S. I downloaded music all the time, because paying for an album or track before I even knew that I liked it, or for songs and albums that I knew I only wanted to hear a few times seemed like a waste.

    The main problem is that the content providers (movie/tv studios, recording industry, etc.) absolutely refuse to follow the common sense economics that rule almost all other industries. To wit, that demand and supply for a particular item determines the price for that item. Instead they set a price they want, regardless of demand, supply, and market forces, and just expect everyone to be willing to pay it. They don't seem to understand that whether they like it or not, the media/entertainment landscape has changed so drastically in the last 15 years that the demand for any particular thing (album, movie, tv show, etc.) is much less than it was. There are so many options for people to entertain themselves that the real value of entertainment has gone down, because the supply is so high. There are hundreds of TV shows airing at any given time, more movies, books, more music from varied sources, more video games, etc. than there used to be. But the industry tries to artificially keep the value high. $2.99 for an HD episode of a tv show? $15 for a cd or digital mp3 album? $6.99 to rent a movie in HD from Vudu or similar services? Those prices are ridiculous, and many people simply won't pay that kind of money, especially for more disposable entertainment.

    The other problem is that the industry actually encourages people to pirate by failing to give them what they want, in a convenient affordable way, and quickly. Like it or not, we are an instant gratification culture. People who live outside the U.S. often pirate things because they are either locked out completely from legal services like Netflix and Hulu or because they have to wait a ridiculous amount of time for things like tv shows to be aired in their country. It's crazy that it's still like this, in this day and age. Even in the U.S., things take way too long to come to affordable services like Netflix. Recently the show New Girl was recommended to me by a friend. The first season was on Netflix, so I watched it there and loved it. But lo and behold they don't have season two, and I had no interest whatsoever in paying $2.99 per episode (25 eps) on Amazon so I could watch it and be caught up in time for season 3. That's a ridiculous price. And I don't want to wait 8 months or longer for the show to finally make it to Netflix. So I pirated the entire season two. I'm not even sorry. When they start actually charging a reasonable price for their content, that's when I'll say that piracy is a problem, not before.

    • Jason Maggard
      July 11, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Exactly. I was renting movies for $1 a piece back in the day, and now VUDU wants to charge me $5 to watch a 60 year old movie in HD? $5 to "rent" Casablanca in HD when it's free on Amazon and Netflix. $13.99 to buy a digital copy, $8 for the physical DVD. (That you could rip to digital) Free if you know how to use Google.

      Books on Kindle are often times MORE expensive than a paperback.

      They rolled out all of these services by pretending that digital would make everything cheaper. When they stop treating their customers poorly, maybe we'll return the favor.

      • Dave P
        July 13, 2013 at 4:25 am

        I will never understand why an eBook is more expensive than a physical copy. It makes no sense whatsoever.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:24 am

      You speak a lot of truth. The fact that you now choose to use Spotify rather than pirate music is undeniable proof that if a legal alternative exists people will gravitate towards it.

  30. MunsuDC
    July 11, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Piracy is not our problem, I agree with Glenn. Besides, it's just an indication of greater change. Copies can, in principle, be made indefinitely and for no expense, and payment is merely a gratitude for good work: this is a fact, a reality of our world that will shape its future possibilities. Even more, production of material goods requires less manual work by the year. If we can all get copies for free, maybe the creator doesn't need to pay for his living? Maybe no one needs to? Maybe the system that tries to make us believe we still live in a scarcity world where some people need to be *forced* into labour is not quite honest? Maybe it's the faceless middlemen who live off percents, credit loans, transactions, that need to be destroyed? Let's face it, people don't become good musicians to get rich; that's a motivation for bankers, and musicians/writers generally get worse from greed. So even if nobody pays, the inclination to create won't disappear.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:23 am

      I agree that there will always be people willing to work for little to no money, but you wouldn't get anywhere near the scope or scale of bands (as an example) as you do now if it wasn't at least semi-lucrative.

      When you say "Copies can, in principle, be made indefinitely and for no expense," do you mean content creators should only be paid once and not for subsequent sales?

      • MunsuDC
        July 13, 2013 at 6:51 am

        Well, what do we know about that scope? From what I see, in all kinds of media production prices are exagerrated. Both declared profits and losses of major labels are totally incomparable to the quality of released product. Now, it's not just a question of wealth distribution. Year by year, movies become dumber, because nobody wants to risk losing that $200M investment. So let's make it understandable to every degenerate, cheesy beyond belief, copy the plot from last-year blockbuster... It shapes the taste of the public, but for me it's painful to watch. Music is even worse: see research http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/120726/srep00521/full/srep00521.html
        So we see that pursuing profits does not inherently mean stimulus for further perfection.
        Bands can do pretty fine with live tours. Besides,the idea that a good artist should earn exponentionally more than, say, a dentist stems from our perception of fame as a financial blessing. That's wrong.
        And when I say that about copies, I just state the fact. We're already living in the post-scarcity society, at least regarding access to information and the ease of its distribution. One needs to accept the hard facts if he wants to understand something.

        • Dave P
          July 14, 2013 at 11:37 pm

          Art does seem to be reducing down to please the mindless majority. I mean, what makes the most money: a summer blockbuster with lots of explosions or a classy drama with fine writing and acting? But quality (or a lack thereof) doesn't justify piracy.

          The music industry has already changed strategy, relying on revenues from gigs and merchandise to counter that lost by falling album sales. But that means people are having to pay more to see their favorite bands now than they did 10 years ago because of people pirating music.

    • Lisa Santika O
      July 15, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      You remind me of Don Rosa, Disney's best Duck illustrator and holder of the canon duck universe for years. One of his reason for retiring was Disney's policy that a comic illustrator is to be paid per page, one time only, no matter how insanely popular his work turns out to be. To sum it up, everyone in the world may like your comic, but you'll get nothing but the measly pay you got for n-pages while the company gets profits for subsequent sales of prints and reprints.

  31. Rudi N
    July 11, 2013 at 7:40 am

    I agree with Glenn (first comment) - Nothing needs to be done, it's not a problem. It just allows [those in the know] to try things before they buy. For example, have you ever bought a new game expecting it to be brilliant and it turns out to be utter sierra-hotel-indigo-tango? Ever seen a trailer for a film, thinking it's brilliant, then going to the cinema, paying their extortionate rates and hating the film when you realise the trailer contained all the best bits and the rest of the film was just a time filler? Same goes for music, software and anything else digital. The media companies are still making millions on a weekly basis in some cases and it's not like they're short of money, is it? Otherwise Hollywood would have gone bust, Activision would have cut the cord at CoD4 and Microsoft would have peaked at Vista. Vista! But they haven't. And why? Because pirates tend to legally buy more digital material than your average Joe.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:20 am

      I saw three films in a row at the cinema that I positively hated, but I can't say I resent the people who created them getting paid for their efforts. It was my decision to see those films, after all.

  32. Mihai Negru
    July 11, 2013 at 7:33 am

    NOTHING

  33. Paul Harris
    July 11, 2013 at 5:37 am

    The Music and Motion Picture producers are fighting a loosing battle against piracy and it is similar to Prohibition and the more recent drug wars.

    For every protection scheme they add to their media, there will be someone who will bypass it.

    I think a solution would be a user fee added to everyones' Internet bill.
    This would only work if every country in the world signed on.

    This could never eliminate all piracy, but reduce it and pacify the industry.

    Blank cassette tapes and CDs' had a levy attached.

    Proceeds to be divided by the Music/Movie industry.

    Then let everybody download as much as they want.

    People wouldn't feel guilty if they were forced to pay every month.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:19 am

      The problem with adding a fee to everyone's Broadband fees is that not everyone pirates, so some people would be subsidizing others.

  34. Yannis Vatis
    July 11, 2013 at 5:28 am

    Piracy should be contended against, the way I see it. People who regularly download content for free usually fall into the following categories: a) they just want free stuff, b) it's more convenient and c) they can't afford to buy, view or rent content regularly.

    Regarding the first category, there's not much that can be done. It's human nature to go for the option that provides the least risk. It is possible that the amount of people who are in this category will be greatly reduced by means of solutions for category b) and c).

    Convenience is one of the primary reasons people download free content. For instance, people who live in countries outside the US don't have access to amazing services like Hulu and Netflix. Sure they can pay extra to get a VPN or proxy but a lot of people are not as tech savvy or inclined to go through the added hassle.

    Finally, price is always going to be the number one issue. The problem is not necessarily that people are not willing to pay money for software and content. It's that for a lot of these things there is no real way for people to tell if they are worth paying for or not. Here's an example, say I heard that Game of Thrones was a great show and I went and bought the first few episodes on some service. Unfortunately the show did not compel me as much as others and feel my money was wasted. I would have appreciated if the studio offered me, say, the first 2 episodes for free to just check it out. If I liked them as much I would at least be intrigued to buy the next episode and even if the show didn't really pay off as much I would not feel that I wasted money. There are flaws in this suggestion, to be sure, but it's just an example.

    Content delivery is definitely getting better and better. There are tons of great services out there that have made things easier, and in some cases cheaper even. I don't understand, though, how e-books are sometimes priced higher than their "dead tree" counterparts. I've read tons of articles on why digital content pricing works but I still feel the low pricing purpose - an important draw of digital distribution - is in some ways defeated. PS3 games bought on the PSN store are the same exact price as the disc, too.

    My overall point is that piracy can be reduced if content acquisition gets more convenient, better and more flexible pricing models are introduced and content becomes truly global.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:17 am

      I tend to agree with you. If you don't want people to pirate content you need to offer a legal alternative that's fairly priced and simple to use. We don't yet have that, though it is getting better.

      Releasing content on the same day around the world would be a good start.

  35. Andrei A
    July 11, 2013 at 5:16 am

    There's really no need in doing anything. Sharing isn't a crime, govts of all countries just looking for more places to suck money from, they become jealous when something appears not to be under their control, and, yes, I think it's better to spend money on social neeeds, than on something that doesn't do anything for people. I'm always ready to support indie film makers, as well as musicians, but not hollywood crap, they'ev alredy had their share and still not willing to share.Time passes, nothing is done except for ridiculous regulations.Fight something you'll be remembered for, sharing is caring!

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:15 am

      Sharing is a crime though, or at least has been made so in recent years. What you see as sharing content you own, others see as stealing content without paying the creators of said content.

      • Paul O
        July 14, 2013 at 6:56 pm

        If that is the case then what about libraries that allow the free use of material without the users having to pay for the content which includes books, music and video and in many cases now offer free online memberships (as long as you have a piece of paper... i.e. library card) including the downloading of books. Would this constitute stealing, if I borrow a book/video/music from the library?

        • Dave P
          July 14, 2013 at 11:28 pm

          It's a fair point to raise, but the way public libraries lend out a physical copy of a book is very different than the sharing of a digital file.

          If it was a case of one person literally sharing their music collection with a small subset of their friends then I don't think the authorities would have cracked down. But we all know file-sharing works on a different level, with one file potentially making it into the hands of millions of other people, especially where leaked movies are concerned.

        • John
          July 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm

          But on a fundamental basis they are the same. You can't legitimize one aspect of it only. If sharing is to be illegal, so should letting friends borrow books, letting libraries lend, ... That'd be like allowing theft of someone's household goods as long as the house wasn't stolen.

  36. Glenn
    July 11, 2013 at 4:56 am

    Do *NOTHING*. It isn't a "problem" at all. As a rule, the people who share stuff are also the ones who buy more stuff than those who don't share. (Disclaimer: I don't share, nor do I buy much; I buy only occasionally the stuff I really, really want.) We don't need the govt. wasting billions of our tax dollars to find and prosecute anyone for "piracy" (except for the *real* pirates that steal and resell as part of a "business model"). File sharing isn't a threat to anyone's bottom line--just the opposite in fact.

    • Dave P
      July 13, 2013 at 4:13 am

      That's certainly one way of looking at it, and there has been data to suggest there's truth to that assertion. However, I do wonder if removing all threats of prosecution would lead to chaos as everyone pirated without any fear.

      • John
        July 15, 2013 at 1:34 pm

        Dave, if you are truly interested in the debate read this book:
        http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/againstnew.htm

        Written by two professionals and supplied for free (though you can purchase it if you want to, I did).

        The book discusses how the opposite of what you describe actually happens. The ability to monopolize on an intellectual basis creates more chaos and less goods for everyone, even the creators. It delves into the history as well showing how IP has made us worse off today.

        • Dave P
          July 15, 2013 at 10:48 pm

          Thanks, I'll certainly take a look at it. Why would I pay for it if it's available for free? See what I did there.

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