Tuesday, 22 July 2014

On digital piracy. (Part One)


(Photo credit to Schwadron)
In the past, pirates were known as the squashbuckling, one-legged, eyepatch-wearing Captain Jack Sparrow-type of sailors who would brave the seas in search of precious treasures (or 'booty', as it was known). They were the outlaws of the sea, the mavericks who were both celebrated and deplored by many in their time.

However now, the digital age has brought along its own (rather less exciting) type of 'pirate'.
The treasure for today's pirates is no longer a chest of fine precious jewels, but instead perhaps an entire series of 'Game of Thrones', Ed Sheeran's latest album or the Football Manager video game- all of which are accessible easily via 'torrents', files that direct your computer to download larger ones, be it an MP3 album, a film, or anything.

Whereas to purchase Football Manager 14 from a shop, I'd have to locate the item and travel to my nearest game stores (leaving the house, oh!) to lump out 35 of my pounds, via torrenting I can get this for free, completely. All without leaving my house, right on my computer, not a pound lost from my pocket.

That's largely where the appeal of digital piracy lies- you can get something of value that you desire for free. And in the day of almost all media (even books) now being on digital platforms, you can get quite a lot.

To many, this practice raises serious moral issues, and perhaps rightly so. Is there really a difference between torrenting Fast and Furious 6 and simply walking into my nearest HMV, grabbing a copy of it from the shelves and walking out without paying? On the surface, there is little difference- in both cases you have obtained something of value that was not given willingly to you for free by the creator(s).

However, many people fail to take into account such a link, the reason why digital piracy is far more widespread than shoplifting- and it's unsurprising why many of us do not see digital piracy, perhaps irrationally, as a direct equivalent to shop theft.

The internet has hugely affected our behaviour- most notably due to the fact that it provides a proxy between communicators, it provides an environment in which relationships are usually more detached, separated by a screen.
This separation is clear in how confidence is gained by many internet users who, in the real world, have very little- cyberbullies, 'trollsters' and whatnot are largely of this type.

The lack of interpersonal communication during the process of torrenting makes it a much more appealing prospect than outright shop theft; when on the internet alone, you feel there is no one watching you (something in fact untrue), so there's no one that provides a reaction to your torrenting, there's no one to catch or stop you. This is an environment that is far more conducive to theft.

This nature is shown in the statistics- as of 2011, 42% of software running in the world was pirated, 95% of music downloaded online was pirated, and two-thirds of all torrents were illegal. Three years on, illegal downloads have continued to grow in popularity. It's clear- the world is full of digital piracy.

At the end of the day, digital piracy is the same as theft from a store. We have all been guilty of it, but perhaps we need to change our attitudes towards it; we wouldn't steal directly from a shop, so why should we steal online?

But actually, on the other hand, does digital piracy actually matter? Does your downloading of a piece of media really have any negative impact on the multi-millionaire producers of the things we download?

We'll be exploring that in the next article. Stick around.


SOURCE(S):

Online Piracy in Numbers – Facts and Statistics [Infographic] www.go-gulf.com/blog/online-piracy/ (2011)

Mohammad Lone Editor