Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Copyright theft

With the rise in speed and popularity of the internet connections, more and more users have access to the various file-sharing systems that enable users to share anything with other users. Unsurprisingly, this includes copyrighted material such as computer software, movies and music.

All the copyright owners are trying their very best to intercept and prevent this type of sharing. They argue that their customers are enjoying material they have paid to create without them receiving any payment. They claim this is threatening the livelihood of all their artists and production teams.

When systems were created back in the 1970s to record and playback music everyone moaned that it would destroy their livelihood because there would no longer be a need to play music live in concert halls etc. Then audio cassette was created and people could copy this recorded media. Then radio was the problem because people could hear the music without buying it. Same happened with TV when video was invented. Talk about history repeating itself! :)

The reason for this post is to state my view of downloading copyrighted material - which obviously I don't condone.

From a record companies point of view, what is the difference between:

  1. someone using something they have downloading or copied, and
  2. someone not buying it?


How much money does a record company loose in case one compared to case two? None, because the customer pays for their internet connection, their PC and their disk space. If they create a CD they have to pay for the blank CD and they have to pay to print on it.

If the person who has downloaded the content then starts selling it on for a profit, making money out of something they got for nothing I believe they are committing a crime. If they just use it themselves a few times I think the record companies should look at this as free advertising.

Most people who enjoy copied material believe they should give some money to the artists. This could be in the form of actually buying an original copy because they enjoy the work and are happy to pay for it. Even if they are not inclined to buy something they have already obtained they are much more likely to buy other works or merchandise by this company or artist in the future.

Another argument for copying is that most of what is paid for a music CD is pocketed by greedy record companies. On a £15 CD the artist receives much less than £1. Where does the rest go to and is it actually deserved? I'm sure Simon Cowell, one of the richest men in the world would argue it is!!

Before file sharing, how many times have you heard a hit song - thought it was really good and gone out to buy the whole album by that artist only to play the album and not like any of the other songs? If you go and knock on the record companies door and ask for your money back because you don't like the material will they give you a refund? Not likely! They will even accuse you of copying it before you brought it back!

My last point is the actual price of CDs and movies in the shops. Do you actually believe that £15 for an hour of music is value for money? Games are even worse. I object to paying £35 for a PSP game. I will probably only play it for a day before I finish it, get bored or get stuck. That is a hell of a lot of money to pay for one day's entertainment. It's even worse with the latest generation of console where games start at £50. Most of these are marketed to kids! How many kids get that much pocket money in a month?? It's not fair on parents.

The best way I think record companies could combat piracy is to become more customer friendly. They need to drop the price they ask for their products. Why when CDs were launched was the same music £6 on vinyl or cassette yet over £10 on CD? Why are songs bought in the iTunes music store dearer in real terms to UK customers than US customers for exactly the same song? Let's look how much they charge for movies on Hi-def DVD: Superman returns RRP £28.99 on HD-DVD, £17.99 on DVD. Does any of this extra go to the artists? I don't think so.

Customers are voting with their feet. And they don't like it! Ha!