Hollywood Studios Spent $123 Million Dollars On Political Donations And Lobbying For Anti-Piracy Bills
I’m a movie buff, and love old films and new ones too. I regularly buy movies on blu-ray, that I want to add to my film collection. With the advent of blu-ray, I appreciate the medium even more than I did before. Something that’s incredibly frustrating to me is the fact that Hollywood tries to criminalize file sharing and the piracy of movies.
The film industry loves to characterize anyone who downloads a movie through file-sharing as a “thief” who is stealing their intellectual property. They say that when people illegally download a movie, that they are depriving them of a sale. This overly simplistic characterization helped them craft PIPA, SOPA, and ACTA - and the industry wants anyone who shares a digital file to be charged with a felony - which is insane.
Firstly, downloading a digital file is not stealing. If you have ever looked at a digital file, it’s not the same as a physical DVD or music CD.
The New York Times has an article today that explains this much more succinctly than I can. Rutgers Law School Professor Stuart P. Green writes that:
"If Cyber Bob illegally downloads Digital Joe’s song from the Internet, it’s crucial to recognize that, in most cases, Joe hasn’t lost anything. Yes, one might try to argue that people who use intellectual property without paying for it steal the money they would have owed had they bought it lawfully. But there are two basic problems with this contention. First, we ordinarily can’t know whether the downloader would have paid the purchase price had he not misappropriated the property. Second, the argument assumes the conclusion that is being argued for — that it is theft.
So what are the lessons in all this? For starters, we should stop trying to shoehorn the 21st-century problem of illegal downloading into a moral and legal regime that was developed with a pre- or mid-20th-century economy in mind. Second, we should recognize that the criminal law is least effective — and least legitimate — when it is at odds with widely held moral intuitions.
Illegal downloading is, of course, a real problem. People who work hard to produce creative works are entitled to enjoy legal protection to reap the benefits of their labors. And if others want to enjoy those creative works, it’s reasonable to make them pay for the privilege. But framing illegal downloading as a form of stealing doesn’t, and probably never will, work. We would do better to consider a range of legal concepts that fit the problem more appropriately: concepts like unauthorized use, trespass, conversion and misappropriation."
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