Pirates: If you can’t beat them…

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Pirates are taking over the Internet and it seems governments can’t think how to stop them except by threatening them.

I honestly don’t think threatening these pirates will work. The Internet has created a generation of people who believe they deserve to get things for free. In fact, as an artist I come across a lot of people who just do not know about copyright and assume everything on the Internet is up for grabs.

Rather than creating a “3 strikes and your out” policy for Internet use, I believe there are far better ways to satisfy everyone. But copyright holders need to be willing to compromise.


If people do not know what copyright is, how can they be expected to follow copyright laws?

When I first used the Internet, way back at the start of this millennium, I was completely ignorant about copyright and would use copyright images in my art. I too believed anything on the Internet was free for me to use as I wished.

As soon as I learnt about copyright I stopped using images I found online unless I obtained permission. And I’m pretty stubborn, so if I can be convinced to change my ways, surely others can too.

Provide it for free, legally

When we watch TV we do not pay to watch each show. Channels pay for showing programs by advertisements. We do pay a TV licence in the UK, but then again we pay a subscription fee for broadband.

So why shouldn’t content be provided free on the Internet and paid for by advertisements?

Last.FM and Spotify are just 2 examples of companies providing free music streaming that is legal. They can afford to pay the licence fees by adverts and premium services.

Many TV channels and companies now allow people to catch up with shows by streaming them online. Most that I have seen contain adverts for revenue, although in my opinion they go the wrong way about doing it.

However, I believe that despite this free access to music and television people are still pirating because they do not want to stream; they want to download. This is especially true with music because of the desire to load them onto portable devices.

So what can be done to monetize free legal downloads? I would say that the same as for streaming can be applied. Adverts could be placed next to download links or shown for a time before the download becomes available. Adverts could even be inserted into videos (and although they could be removed, most people would not know how to do this).

Stop picking on the little guy

Many people do not look to make profit from file sharing. While I agree that companies do lose out on profit even if the sharers aren’t making money, I do not see the point in trying to bankrupt an individual making no profit when there are people making a lot of money from illegal file sharing, including sites enabling it such as RapidShare.

For example, fining someone $1.9m for sharing 24 songs ($80k each) is pretty insane when there is no way they could afford to pay that. I do not believe the music company could have lost anywhere near that much per song.

The likelihood is they were trying to send a message, but the reactions I saw to the case lead me to conclude the exact opposite happened. Cases such as that seem to make people more determined to take profits away from companies because they continue to make themselves look greedy.

Address the “something for nothing” view

If we could define why people believe they should get something for nothing, perhaps we could alter that viewpoint. I do not believe people deserve something for nothing. We get things for free either because the owner is generous or by unscrupulous means.

It is not just things such as music and video many people think they should get free. I have seen interviews in regard to the recession with people who complain that they cannot get loans! Many seemed outraged that their bank would not give them money.

Perhaps my view on this is old fashioned, but I do not like spending money I do not have. But many people seem to have no issues with getting into debt and spending money they don’t have.

Yes, I know I have drifted from the point, but now I shall get back to it!

When people buy things using loans or a buy-now-pay-later option, I believe many see it as getting something for free, or at least free temporarily. It is this frame of mind, along with the easy-access the Internet provides, that has likely caused some people to think many things should be free.

I will not exclude myself from that group. I do not buy music and I often find myself questioning why some things aren’t free (such as Spotify’s mobile version). Looking back on my own Internet use, I can say with some certainty that I want things for free because I used to take them for free online before I understood and cared about copyright. Please note the emphasis on caring about copyright. There are those who understand it and chose to ignore it. But I won’t lecture people on morals today. 😉

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