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Are North America’s Piracy Laws Necessary or R-R-Ridiculous in Today’s Society?

February 28, 2013

What is Piracy?

Piracy is defined as the deliberate infringement of copyright on a commercial scale. It can be divided into four categories: music, counterfeits, bootleg and internet piracy. All four types of piracy produce or distribute products such as music and movies without the permission of the rights owner.

Piracy in North America

I think that piracy laws that are governed in North America are considerably outdated. Since our society is growing up with constant changing technology, our laws and regulations have not kept up with our technological surroundings. Living in the 21st century with 20th century laws make it difficult for some companies that rely on file sharing to do business. File-sharing has become a huge factor in today’s technology. It enables peer-to-peer networking, being able to transfer files from one person to another. The general public saw this as an innovative idea, while certain industries such as the music industry were not satisfied with this because it heavily cut into their revenues.

SOPA and PIPA

Linked below is a video describing SOPA and PIPA.

Megaupload is one of the Internet’s largest file-sharing sites that was shut down by US officials because of violating piracy laws. They had cost copyright holders more than $500m in lost revenue due to complains about pirated material.  With the new anti-piracy bill being introduced (Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act) around the same time Megaupload was charged, it would eliminate pirating and file sharing other peoples content. This had caused a huge uproar in North America.

The purposes of these bills were to prevent illegal downloading and pirating of media company material. An industry study indicated that 17.5% of all bandwidth in the US is taken up by illegal downloads. That being said, the language of the bills constituting piracy was too broad. They  would make it illegal to stream unauthorized content. For example, Justin Bieber’s reputation started on YouTube performing music belonging to other singers.

SOPA and PIPA Protests

Large websites such as Wikipedia, Google and Reddit protested against these two bills. These involved communities caused “blackouts” by changing their page layouts, or redirecting their links to a protesting SOPA link. These blackouts were created to increase the awareness of internet users and the grand changes that would take place if SOPA and PIPA were passed. A list of participating companies can be found here. The opposition from these web-based communities showed Congress how many people were against the bill. Eventually, the bill was dropped.

How would SOPA and PIPA Have Affected My Life?

As a university student, file-sharing saves me hundreds of dollars in music and movies.  Being on a tight budget, I am making use of the free resources available to me. If Congress passed both SOPA and PIPA, I would stop spending money on music and movies, because they would not fit in my budget. With all of our tuition fees and living expenses, students such as myself rely on cheap entertainment, in this cause music and movies. If these files began to cost money when downloading them, we will just find other ways to entertain ourselves.

Growing up in a technology enhancing society, it is considered a norm to file share and use unauthorized content for amateur-made videos. The convenience of downloading and viewing files from our computers and cell phones would result in almost every individual being considered a felon.  As our society continues to grow, our laws must adapt to these newer technologies that enter our lives.

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