Being a student is tough. Further education isn’t just about the pain of reading countless textbooks and spending days in seclusion writing a dissertation. It is learning how to live with very little money – I mean very little. When the student loan comes through and a grant (if you are lucky enough to have one), life becomes a constant deliberation over costs. This blog post is here to say that piracy is not the answer.
For a few days I was pondering over how to obtain Lamb of God’s new album “resolution”.
- Should I visit a devious torrent site and download the files for free?
- Should I visit iTunes and pay for the music?
In terms of costs I would have saved myself £9.99 if I downloaded their new album for free. Of course this would mean the band would receive nothing. Yet the question I was battling with was ethical. If I downloaded the album for nothing then it would have been extremely unlikely that I would have been caught or prosecuted. I knew that if I had downloaded for free that I would have a constant itch in the back of my mind that I had the money but decided to withdraw my support from the band, despite loving their music.
“Some bands don’t care if fans illegally download their music and some do, what’s you stance on this?
Except in cases where it is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to purchase our music, yes, I fucking care. It sucks. It’s my living. Why is this such a hard concept to grasp?”
I’m not in favour of SOPA which I have recently started to publically protest against on Twitter. That doesn’t mean I’m not surprised with how the legislation was born. The internet has become an important business tool but it is also growing at a phenomenal rate which restricts the creative industry from evolving effectively.
- Not only has our music become free
- Journalism is also free
- Films can be free
- Books have started to appear online for free
This is all due to file sharing. There is one common argument for keeping torrent websites open, ‘These file sharing sites don’t only host copyrighted material but also legitimate content’.
Just look at the famous torrent website mininova.org (won’t link as I don’t want this blog to be “blacklisted” by Google). They lost a Dutch Court case in 2009 that meant they had to remove all copyright infringing material from their website. Now look at their Alexia traffic status.
Quite clearly the majority of users visited the website looking to infringe copyright law. If I had enough evidence then I would argue the only reason they are still receiving traffic is due to users still searching for that very same infringing material.
It is here that I must re-instate my opinion on the matter of file sharing. When I listened to Stephen Fry discuss the subject of pirating in 2009 he drew a moral distinction between downloading content and committing crimes in life. Stealing a handbag is completely different to downloading an episode of 24.
File sharers should not be prosecuted, demonised by the very industries, which further in life they will be a customer of. In many ways it could be said those who download content do so on the merit of the content’s value. I will be the first to concede that something needs to be done about piracy.
So this blog post is not a scream against piracy, instead a request to consider the wider effect of your actions. Part of my mind feels unsettled that I would have even considered downloading Lamb of God’s new album for nothing. Yet this isn’t because I am a criminal, it is because technology has altered my behaviour. Knowing that free options are available does not make them right.
Every creative industry is suffering due to file sharing. As a keen writer I have hopes of writing a book one day but worry that file sharing will make it an impossible hobby to viably maintain in the long run. Creating creative money costs money and the artists need an income to keep creating.
Anyway… back to University work.