The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) expands upon the Copyright Act of 1976 and addresses all of the potential copyright infringements that can occur in the digital age. According to Wikipedia, “it criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works.” It also protects certain online service providers against copyright infringement as long as they meet certain requirements.
Piracy has always been a sort of mysterious and ambiguous thing to me. When I first discovered what YouTube was back in middle school, I was amazed that it was possible to find practically any song on the internet and listen to it whenever I wanted. (Well, as long as my parents didn’t need to use the phone #dialupproblems.) Even with this fascination with “on-demand” music, I never really participated in the culture of piracy that was still very prevalent around that time. Technically, sharing and downloading copyrighted materials is not moral or ethical. With that being said, burning a CD for someone or sending them the files for some songs seems very innocent. I suppose the real legislation is reserved for individuals who participate in activities like those described in by Stephen Witt in the article Goodbye to Piracy, not the teenager getting a few songs off of YouTube.
My instinct is to argue that if a person is only downloading copyrighted material a couple of times, or to “test” it, then it is not really a problem. This argument, however, falls apart when I consider how many people there are in the world and how much damage would be done if everyone downloaded a couple of files. Seemingly harmless acts always spiral out of control once you apply it to all the people who could commit them.
I, personally, do not engage in piracy. This is mostly because I really fear the potential viruses my computer can get from different streaming sites (my Lenovo, though fantastic, is not as indestructible as a Mac), not necessarily because I am a staunch anti-piracy advocate. Additionally, I don’t have the energy to click through numerous links just to find whatever movie I maybe want to watch. As Paul Tassi writes, sites like Netflix really are too convenient to pass up.
I think that people who engage in the heavy kind of piracy do so because they can. Like Witt says in his article, I don’t think that these people really want to have all of this music on their computers because they listen to it all the time. Having thousands of files makes them feel powerful and rebellious, as though they have found a way to outsmart the government and the entertainment industry. Or maybe they believe that art should be free, which is admittedly a compelling thought.
As a proud Spotify-user, I am concerned about the fact that I won’t physically have any of the music that I listen to daily if Spotify ends up obsolete. I don’t anticipate streaming services like Spotify and Netflix to disappear due to the value that they provide to their users. Consumers love things that are on-demand and immediate. The only way that these services will become obsolete is if a new technology is invented to overshadow them, or if everything just becomes free. Just as theft will always, unfortunately, occur in society, piracy will probably always be a problem.