When you hear the word “pirate” what is the first image that comes to your mind? Is it the dashing Johnny Depp? Or is it an old bearded man with a parrot on his shoulder going, “Arrrgh! Yar scurvy rascals!” Or do you think of Somali pirates half way around the world trying to hijack some vessel? How about a regular man or a woman you see every day? Someone you will sit next to in a movie theater or someone who is sitting next to you at a desk in the MSSU classroom. They are the ones I am talking about, the internet pirates who illegally download movies, e-books, and songs every single day!
It is estimated that on average millions of videos are downloaded illegally on a daily basis! But not only are they stolen by people downloading them from “free” sites, but there are other ways to steal! Between 2003 and 2008 a total of 185 movies were nominated for Oscars and 182 of them were “leaked” out on the internet. What is alarming is that 143 of them are the “Screener” copies that were leaked to uploaders by industry insiders. In 2006 it was estimated that the US alone lost $1.3 billion and a total of $6.1 billion was lost world wide. You may think, So how does that affect me? The movie industry has to return its funds one way or another! How will they do it? By increasing the price of a movie ticket for the average movie goer! You may not encounter the temptation of buying one of those pirated movies but I have to deal with that temptation every single day. I have dozens of men with illegal movies from China trying to sell them to me for next to nothing and, I have to admit, it is tempting! I may not have enough patience to wait for Avatar to be released on DVD and then wait a whole week for it to be downloaded with my slow internet.
And what of music and e-books? Music piracy is by far the oldest form of digital piracy, with the sites advertising free music popping up all over the net. It is so incredibly easy to download a song or two for free and think, “Who am I hurting by getting this song? It’s only a song!” But one study shows that global music piracy costs the music industry $12.5 billion in losses every year! Although downloading songs from home seems like nothing it is equal to one going inside a store and stealing a CD!
With the invention of Kindle one is able to buy e-books from all over the world. Statistics show that there are 3,386 downloads per day from 105 different countries! But at the same time Kindle with its PDF format opened doors for e-book piracy.
All of these statistics show how easy it is to take advantage of the free world we live in nowadays. The internet has made it possible for people like me, who live all the way in Africa, to take classes online and earn their bachelor’s degree without having to set a foot on campus one time! But it also made it easy for the others to steal someone’s hard work. How would the man or a woman who just downloaded a song for free feel if someone came into their house and took away the things they got with their own hard earned money? Would they also think whom did I hurt?