Piracy & Theft

If a CD is shoplifted from a store it is just theft. Piracy, as a form of copyright theft, is stealing potential sales – duplication and exploitation rights, recognized as property under the law, have been stolen. It is common to refer to any copyright infringement, whether it is commercial or individual, as an act of piracy. This serves only to bolster the exploitation model that demands all uses should be covered by copyright and therefore raise revenue.

Under U.S. law it is also possible to class an Internet download as a service (Kretschmer et al. 2009 p.87), which means the same property laws that the copyright industry is defending cannot be applied. A digital copy is more like the original idea – it can be shared and exist in more than one place at a time.

We also have to question whether each download equals a lost sale. As Patry (2009 p.35) explains, the Canadian Ministry of Information established in 2007 that P2P File sharing potentially increases CD sales, establishing a loose estimate of 1 file equaling 0.44 increase in CD’s bought per year. Similar findings suggest that British downloaders spend £33 more on CD’s than non-downloaders (Shields 2009). A Harvard Business School study found a case for viewing file sharing in the same light as radio play (Potier 2004) in that it has a beneficial effect on sales. Music Downloads can be viewed more like an advert – and if you like it, you buy it.

Distinctions need to be made between copyright infringements, as the U.S. law allows for fair use. While it is accepted that the physical copying and sale of a CD or DVD is harming the market, more research needs to be conducted to establish the actual harm of private downloading, amateur transformative and derivative work and the sampling of audio and video work.

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