Our social norms have developed too fast for the law to keep up. The rules and restrictions in place are out of touch in the way of how quickly we are evolving and changing as a society of people with access to new technology. It’s easy to say ‘downloading licensed music without paying for it is illegal’ but it’s equally as easy to say ‘stuff it, I’m downloading it anyway’.
It’s too easy and convenient to break copyright law. Would you rather buy a DVD with about 20 warnings before the movie actually starts, telling you not to illegally copy the dvd, or would you rather download it for free off the internet with no ads? Well personally, I like owning DVDs and as a media creator I believe we should support the films and music we like – so I can live through the annoying propaganda. However it’s easy to see the irony in this. Punishing the person who isn’t doing any wrong. Something as simple as this is a good demonstration of how the law is a bit behind the times.
A lot of us don’t see the harm in illegally downloading content. We use the reason ‘I wouldn’t have paid for it in the first place so they’re not losing any sales – i’m only doing it cause it’s free’, which makes sense, in a way – and I think this is an excellent point. I’m sure so many of us watch, read and listen to content simply because its there and accessible to us. I know for a fact that people who consider themselves ‘true fans’ of a band or tv show, will probably buy CDs and box sets and all the rest because we appreciate the work and want hard copies. My personal opinion is essentially that if you love something enough, you should support it if you can – but if you’re just looking for a movie to watch on a Thursday night and you come across some random movie on the Internet, there’s nothing wrong with watching it and breaking a few ‘laws’.
However, as important as it seems to support the music and film industry, there are other ways that creators make money. Even if 100 000 people illegally download a band’s music and they don’t get profit from the CDs and iTunes tracks, chances are that there’s 10 000 of those people who are going to buy merchandise and concert tickets. Just a thought.
To be honest, I believe ‘illegal’ downloading is ‘okay’ as long as it adheres to our society’s beliefs and values. We’re all just downloading films to watch ourselves, not so we can sell them on the black market and make mega bucks of other people’s work (which obviously is done in some places – and is slightly not as okay). 3D printing is beginning to take off, which is amazing, but also kinda scary. It was mentioned in class how people can basically download guns and weapons now. That, I believe, is not okay. If someone is downloading illegal content so they can then have illegal weaponry in their house, it’s no longer chill. It’s not harmless, and it’s not because the law hasn’t caught up to technology. Obviously the person downloading the gun may have their own reasons for it, but there are proper channels to go through in order to be allowed to use dangerous weapons in the country, and I think bypassing that is a proper offence. It’s no longer a debate about having a good time on the Internet – it’s deeper and more complicated.
I don’t have the answers to what’s acceptable to download and what’s not – but my personal opinion is that as long as no one is in danger, and as long as we support our favourite artists and creators in other ways, it’s A-OK.