Stop Stealing Music and Movies
Stop Stealing Music and Movies
The issue of piracy is a big problem for the music, movie and software industries. The inventions of the Internet, CD burners and photocopiers have made it difficult to enforce copyright laws. Music and movies have become a public good. Since the development of Napster and BitTorrent in the early 2000s, sharing of music and movie files has become very easy. In fact, by 2004, 30% of all internet traffic was accounted for by BitTorrent, with many people sharing video files through this protocol (Danaher and Waldfogel 3). As a result, media companies have lobbied for laws against piracy to counter its effects on sales. The aim of this paper is to show, through research that music and movie piracy hurts the economy and should be stopped.
The evolution of technology, especially since the 1980s, has played a major role in piracy. The introduction of the compact disc (CD) in 1981 by Sony and Phillips increased record sales, and it became the first digital format to be used. Companies were able to control the quality and prices of their products (Dahlstrom, Farrington and Gobera). The CDs were effective because they were cheaper and lighter than records. Piracy was very ineffective because the quality of a record reduced with every copy made. The storage of music in computer hard drives was also impractical because, until the late 1990s, the hard drive capacity was only 1GB. The internet speed was also slow (56kbps modems) and would take several hours to transmit a song. The introduction of a fast internet access, hard drives with hundreds of gigabytes, codecs like MP3 and MPEG-1 formats virtually wiped out the earlier restrictions. For instance, a 4MB song could now be downloaded in less than 30 seconds. The introduction of Napster and BitTorrent took music and movie sharing to a whole new level, with dire consequences on the media industry.
It is difficult for copyright owners to prevent the unauthorized sharing of their content on digital media. On a global scale, recording industry makes about $4.2 billion losses per year. The Global sales of recorded music experienced a steady rise in the 1990s to $25 billion in 1999. Movie sales also experienced a steady rise. However, with the introduction of Napster, the global sales of music fell by 30% between 1999 and 2009. Ironically, movie ticket sales grew by 75% (Adermon and Liang 2). This does not excuse the fact that piracy is detrimental to the economy. Danner and Joel studied the effects of piracy on international box office revenue (Danaher and Waldfogel). Their reviewed literature indicated that a film released in a country eight weeks after the US premiere had revenue returns lower by 22% in 2004 and 40% in 2006 (Danaher and Waldfogel 5). They found that piracy lowered international box office returns by 7%.
The sales of music albums and movie tickets can increase if laws against piracy are formulated. Adermon and Liang did a study on the effects of the implementation of the European Union directive IPRED by Sweden. The subsequent drop in piracy was due to the drop in Swedish Internet Traffic. Within six months of its implementation, the Swedish Internet traffic dropped by 18%. The sales of physical and digital music increased by 18% and 48% respectively. The effect on movie ticket sales was, however, insignificant (Adermon and Liang).
Piracy denies artists and actors the chance to financially benefit from their talent. Record labels and the film industry invest so much in their work only for pirates to acquire the products illegally and distribute them cheaply. The economy is also hurt by receiving lower returns.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Adermon, Adrian and Che-Yuan Liang. “Piracy, Music and Movies: A Natural Experiment.” 2010. Research Institute of Industrial Economics. 30 November 2015 <http://www.ifn.se/wfiles/wp/wp854.pdf>.
Dahlstrom, Dana, et al. “Piracy in the Digital Age.” 6 December 2006. Universty of Washington. 30 November 2015 <http://courses.cs.washington.edu/courses/csep590/06au/projects/digital-piracy.pdf>.
Danaher, Brett and Joel Waldfogel. “Reel Piracy: The Effect of Online Film Piracy in International Box Office Sales.” 16 January 2012. Social Sciences Research Network. 30 November 2015 <http://ssrn.com/abstract=1986299>.