Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Investigation: Piracy Robbing America

Online piracy and theft is corrupting our economy through its immoral means. It costs our economy between $200 and $250 billion per year, and is responsible for the loss of 750,000 American jobs. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, the motion picture industry supports 2.4 million American jobs and contributes nearly $80 billion each year to the U.S. economy. Countering that economic benefit is that according to researcher Stephen Siwek, in a study for the Institute for Policy Innovation, piracy results in the loss of more than 46,000 jobs in the motion picture industry and more than 94,000 jobs in other industries that otherwise would have been created. So while people think they're getting a steal when they download an illegal copy of the next big movie for little or no money at all, they're actually stealing from American workers. Thus putting our economy in a greater slump. 

SOPA, an anti-piracy bill working its way through Congress would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. This includes the right of requesting of court orders to bar advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with infringing websites, search engines from linking to the websites, and court orders requiring Internet service providers to block access to the websites. Unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content would result in a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Though this seems like a smart fix for our economic downfall issues associated with piracy, there are serious censorship issues that would create major conflict among a vast portion of citizens. The government regulating content has great negative connotation and for the most part, should be avoided in my opinion. After an online strike, it became obvious that this wasn't too popular among citizens. 

BitTorrent is a protocol that underpins the practice of peer-to-peer file sharing and is used for distributing large amounts of data over the Internet. It basically distributing file transfers across multiple systems, thereby lessening the average bandwidth used by each computer. While it would seem that this would decrease music sales and hurt artists and the economy as well, a study from 2011 proves otherwise. Robert Hammond, an assistant professor at North Carolina State University tracked BitTorrent stats for leaked albums, and when comparing them to album sales, there was a positive correlation found between the two. Zach Epstein says in his article for that "popular music is popular music; whether consumers steal it or buy it, massive marketing budgets help ensure that people are exposed to labels’ premier acts as much as possible, thus promoting demand." 

Yes, piracy is hurting our economy in several ways. There seem to be benefits in certain aspects of the music industry, but overall, online piracy is robbing artists, workers, and Americans of their work. It's costing the country money and jobs that don't have to be lost-- and it's all over theft. SOPA may not be the optimal solution right now, but piracy is a problem that must be dealt with before it takes away more than it already has.

Robbing America
Economic Loss
Piracy Affects Sales
Torrent Helps Sales

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