Despite the recent, highly-publicized defeat of proposed legislation to stem online piracy, piracy is nothing new.
My husband still chuckles about the “genuine imitation Reeboks” he saw being hawked in a South Korea street stall back in the ’80s. That seems funny and fairly innocuous compared to what is now available online. Since the advent of the Internet, you can get anything and everything for free as quick as you can click that download button.
There is one site for pirated stuff — I won’t give it free publicity by naming names — where people can get JLo’s newest song. It’s ironic that in the comments, someone acknowledged they would never buy her songs, so thank goodness it was free.
If you don’t like someone’s music, why even get it free? If you do like it enough to bother to download it, don’t you owe its creator something? Even if that creator is a big Hollywood rolling-in-the-money diva or a recording label?
The damage extends beyond them, after all. Congressman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, one of the legislators behind the recently defeated Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) writes, “American intellectual property industries provide 19 million high-paying jobs and account for more than 60 percent of U.S. exports. The theft of America’s intellectual property costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs.”
Not only that, piracy hurts the little people: the songwriters and musicians who don’t make a cut every time someone decides to steal their creative work.
This problem isn’t just unique to Hollywood. It affects businesses right here in Utah. I was talking to a businessman from the Provo area over Christmas and I joked that if they ever needed a sales rep for Asia, I was the woman for the job.
“Oh no,” he said adamantly. “We’ll never do business there again. We had a rep who worked really hard for us, assuring us that our technology would be safe. We installed one system, and that was it. Soon our software had been copied.”
And not for lack of security precautions. “We developed special hardware through which the software could be downloaded. Still, pirates duplicated it.”
So thanks to pirates, I just lost an opportunity for a job with travel benefits.
Kidding aside, the solution to piracy must start in our own heads. As a digital society, we have gotten spoiled by getting free things how we want them, when we want them.
I’m not exactly complaining about the boon of free stuff on the Internet. I used to subscribe to a well-known and pricey anti-virus software. Now my e-mails are scanned by the basic version of anti-virus software that was being offered free by the company.
But please, do not fall for the fallacy that if you copy something for your personal use, you aren’t really infringing on copyright since you’re not selling it. Illegally copying music, movies, software, and literature — any intellectual property — is akin to going to the store and walking away with a physical product and not paying for it.
If you don’t do it in real life, don’t do it online.
Agreed, legislation will not stop piracy. However, the defeat of legislation like PIPA and SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, emboldens pirates.
Despite that, you and I don’t have to stoop to their level.
Jewel Punzalan Allen is a long-time journalist who writes from Grantsville. She blogs at pink-ink-pink.blogspot.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.