While Hollywood and the MPAA nibble away at the perpetrators of illegal file-sharing, they should realize they are going to lose the war for one simple reason – people just don’t consider swapping copyrighted materials as wrong.
The Issue At Hand
The sharing of copyrighted files is clearly a problem, although the scale of its impact on sales is definitely open to debate. And all three big media markets, music, games, and movies (both home and cinema) want the problem to go away.
To this end, they have rallied against the people swapping files over the Internet. They started with the people who ran the show, when the music industry shut down Napster. When that didn’t work, they turned their attention to the individuals committing the crime instead.
The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and their record label paymasters were the most vehemently oppressive in their hounding of file=sharers, taking hundreds of people to court, some of whom were fined a lot of money. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) seems to have remained focused on the Web sites allowing this practice to happen.
And it all, without question, failed. There are probably more people sharing copyrighted material online now than ever before. According to TorrentFreak, one in three Broadband subscribers openly admits to flouting the law and doing so. And the survey which arrived at these figures was purely regarding television and movie content, so music and games weren’t included.
Illegal, But Wrong?
This by itself is interesting enough. A third of all Broadband users equates to millions of people right across the world. With relative safety in numbers, and no chance of everyone being caught and processed, this is likely to empower people to carry on what they’re doing.
But it gets even more interesting. Two-thirds of the sample interviewed by Ovum researchers stated that they didn’t regard it as morally wrong. This includes those who never partake in it, and comes despite the majority of those questioned knowing it is illegal.
Embrace Rather Than Destroy
This means that the movie and music industries are clearly fighting a losing, or dare I say it, lost battle to win the hearts and minds of people. People know they are breaking the law when they send or receive copyrighted material over the Web, and they know the potential is there for legal action to be taken. But a combination of knowing the odds are stacked in their favor and believing morality is on their side leads them to carry on regardless.
The time has come for the movie and television industries to embrace rather than seek to destroy file-sharing networks and their users. Accept the Internet as a means of distribution and offer content in a way that is acceptable to all concerned.
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