Internet Piracy is a massive problem. I don’t think there are many writers, artists, photographers, film producers, musicians etc that have not suffered at the hands of pirates. It takes a lot of wasted time having violations of copyright removed and one has to be constantly alert for the many sources where problems can occur.
Is there are solution?
Probably not. It is driven by 1) greed on the part of those setting up sites. They take revenue from sources such as advertising while using other people’s work as the lure to get the traffic to the site. 2) greed on the part of those using the sites, wanting more than they can actually afford to buy and seeing ‘theft’ as a means to get it. 3) ignorance on the part of those using sites, not always understanding it is theft or understanding it is theft but seeing it as a victimless crime. 4) the problem of the open and international nature of the Internet making it hard to track down and almost impossible to prosecute or take civil action for loss.
Dispelling the myths
Taking any copy of material subject to copyright is a crime. It is theft. It is not ok if it is for personal use. It is not ok because you think the site is the one at fault and not you. It is theft. It is a crime against a real person who may not be making enough to live on from their work. Even if it is a film produced by a big company – it is now ok because you perceive a crime against big business as being meaningless. Those same businesses employ ordinary people and those same ordinary people are losing their jobs because the companies are not making enough money to keep them on. One of the major reasons they are not making enough money is Internet piracy. It is a real crime affecting real people.
What can we do?
Writers / artists etc can set up searches using Google, for example, to run automatic searches for instances of their work on the Internet. It takes time but then at intervals when details relevant to your work come up you can follow them up to see if they are legal or not.
Internet Service Providers can block access to sites carrying material illegally and remove Internet service from members of the public downloading material illegally.
Children need to be educated by schools / parents to understand what copyright means and what theft means.
Ordinary people need to face up to the reality of theft and take it seriously and not think it is ok because they can get away with it. Instances of copyright theft need to be highlighted and the offenders shamed. It is not ok to use a photo on someone else’s site because you like it. It is not ok to download a piece of music or book for free that is covered by copyright and is a paid for title. It is not ok to get a pirated copy of a film and think no one gets hurt.
We need greater protection for copyright material under the law and the extent of this crime to be more widely highlighted and understood. Just because it is digital and not physical does not stop it being THEFT. If you take something that is not yours without paying you are a THIEF. If you don’t like the thought of being accused of THEFT then DO NOT take for use without paying and without permission any photo, picture, book, story, poem, film, song, game, computer programme etc. The fact that no one saw you do it does not stop the fact that it is criminal behaviour and you are the criminal.