posted on Jun, 27 2010 @ 05:58 AM
Imagine you live in a world where every education and entertainment product, every piece of music, audio recording, movie, video, every book, work of
art, every piece of information is available for free to anyone at anytime.
Wouldnt that be nice? The ultimate Utopia where noboy has property and everything is shared freely because "sharing is caring".
But guess what, thats already reality. Officially supposedly "illegal", everything is readily available as pirated filesharing, torrent downloads,
free streaming and whatnot. Loads of movies, every video ever made, all books History has ever written and all new publications, any piece of music -
it can ALL be accessed and had within a few minutes.
And for those who havent woken up to reality yet: There is a whole generation out there who thinks it is NORMAL to have instant free access to all of
I`d like to look at possible hidden traps, downsides and conspiracies of the ever popular pasttime of downloading stuff and especially copyrighted
stuff, for free. Lets also examine how the recording and movie industry have failed terribly in reacting to a change in overall culture and have
thereby helped the "filesharing phenomenon" to grow.
It is not my intention to instill a feeling of guilt in readers. I understand the lure of easy access to everything imaginable and have myself greatly
benefited from filesharing and streaming. What led me to write this is that I meet nice, normal, friendly people, your average joe - and they ALL,
without exception, consider it normal to be entitled to a wide array of products without having to pay for them.
"You bought a CD? Man, you're old-fashioned. I can Download that for you in minutes"
"Why would I buy a book? I can download it within minutes"
"Wait, before you buy that software, maybe I can get it for free"
These people are not criminals, they are my neighbours, friends, colleagues.
It is a sign of a wealthy society that all kinds of goods are easily and instantly accesible. It is the climax point of the convencience-movement that
began in 18th-Century America. But there are Downsides...
First of all, its complete overload, like overeating to the point of vomit. It enslaves millions of people into mega-consumers who spend most of the
day in entertainment - at the expense of creatvity, productivity or contemplation.
Secondly, the majority of downloads happening are against the laws as defined by society. Illegal. So what has happened here, almost overnight, is
that 90% of the younger Generation (90% - that is my guess from knowing and meeting a lot of people, youngsters and their parents in my line of work)
have been allowed to become criminals.
And this is where the Conspiracy-Theory comes in: Have some hidden hands indeed allowed this to happen? Have they allowed it to happen so that - when
the time is right - they can announce 90% of the population as criminals and impose limits to freedom because of it? Or why else was it suddenly so
easy to steal? Or why else was it seen as normal and even good to steal ("sharing is caring")?
When the PirateBay founders say "Well, we dont do anything illegal, we just provide a search-engine" that is such a ridiculous cop-out no court
ruling could take it seriously.Its like saying "We dont deal drugs, we only provide the venue, the packaging and bringing the people together." And
nevertheless, lawyers have been powerless against new torrent-download sites springing up daily. "If we get shut down in this country thats no
problem - we`ll just get a server in another country"
Thirdly - doesnt anyone want to reward those book-writers, movie-makers and musicians for their work? What ever happene to appreciation of value?
A week ago I bought a book at a bookstore.I like bookstores. Their smell and ambience is something you dont get on a Computer-Screen. a girlfriend saw
the book and asked me:
"Huh? Why didnt you Download it? What a waste of money"
At this point I actually got a little angry.
"So you are saying I am wasting my money because I actually bought something for a change?"
"Why buy it when you can get it for free?" she responded.
What angered me is thethe matter-of-course with which she assumed it was completely normal to steal stuff.
"Because I like the author" I said. "If everyone thinks like you, authors wont make any money. And if they cant make a living or survive as an
author they will quit being an author and the world will run out great works."
She laughed it off as if I was crazy. "Most of the money is not made by authors but by publishing houses."
I had heard this before.
"Musicians dont make the money, its record companies"
"Actors dont make the money, its movie companies"
A bright side of the Internet is that artists can now offer their stuff without the middleman publishing house or record company, A&R Manager, Studio,
Film Distributor, etc. But reality is: Most Independent Artists actually struggle to pay the rent or buy food. Why? Firstly because they dont have the
Budget to do a mass-advertising campaign. And secondly because the "filesharing movement" doesnt stop at products by big companies. The "I am
entitled to have everything for free" crowd doesnt stop at anything.
I know this from experience. 2 years ago I gave up a Business of mine because everytime I produced something it was available for free only a few
hours after I put it in the Internet.
I received emails from people dissapointed that I am quitting. But the world will just have to do without my output in those regards. My line of work
needs to support at least food and rent. Wanting a little something in exchange for what was given does not mean one is a "capitalist pig".
Meanwhile I am in a Business that is not dependent on music, movies or books and doing very well. However: What will ultimately become of my beloved
music, movies and books?
Intellectual Property means something to me. Intellectual value may be the highest value we have as humankind. Its terrible to me that bombs are the
most expensive item on earth while books can be had for free. That shows what value earth gives to bombs as compared to books.
I personally know a few musicians who have given up. Why? Because nobody wants to pay for music, it can be had for free. Here's what a
musician-friend of mine says:
"Nowdays most people first check if they can get it for free before going to my shop. Others demand a streaming version of the tracks. So although I
have about 3000 fans and can fill a room of 200 when playing live, I make less than $20 off online sales a month. I cant live on that. I have to get a
regular job and cut back on making music"
20 years ago, if you had 3000 fans you could build on that and make a decent living.
An author I know, who used to sell quite well (not Bestselling, but enough to make a decent living) saw his book sales plummet gradually from the year
2000 onward. Now in 2010 he has quit writing altogether.
A few years ago I tried selling all of my DVDs and CDs at a garage-sale. Nobody wanted any of my junk. So I tried giving it all away for free. Still
no takers! Although I had a great collection. One kid - the teenage Cousin of an Acquaintance went through my movies showing me all the ones he has
"You bought all these movies?" his mother naively asks.
"I have my sources" he dryly states.
Of Course this is not only the fault of the Filesharing crowd but also the result of backward thinking by the recording and movie industry. Fighting
single Filesharing sites is just about the most stupid thing you can do because when one is finally down ten others have sprung up. Yet more reason to
ask about some Conspiracy:
Who would invest money in strategies that are so obviously guaranteed to fail? Are these lawsuits only a staged attempt to make the public think that
"they are trying to combat piracy"?
The petty restrictions imposed by the recording and movie industry are self-damaging. For example restricting viewership depending on country is
utterly idiotic because it drives Millions of foreigners to sites where they can "acquire" the products "by other means".If these companies were
smart they would have gone with the flow and started offering their stuff much earlier - at a reasonable price - for all to view - and the full
A friend of mine who lives in Europe, says: "Dude, if I were allowed to use netflix from my country I wouldnt be illegally Downloading movies. Id be
willing to pay. Id be willing to pay good money to have access to movies. But access is blocked. On Youtube Sony blocks access videos where I live"
The old media industries are too slow and sluggish to understand whats going on. The old media is not all-powerful. It is dying. How many people
between 13 and 25 do you know that read the printed newspaper? Is the old media aware that times have changed? Because by their behaviour its as if
they still dont know. Thats great news for free-flow-of-information and for world democratization. But maybe it becomes a problem when intellectual
and creative output is not seen as property but as part of that free-flow of information.
Of Course I could always be mistaken. Maybe there is nothing sinister at all going on and maybe we are moving toward a society in which people are
willing to work for free. This very website is a good example of thousands of people performing journalistic work completely free of charge. That is a
revolution, a new age of some kind and I can see the good in that.
Maybe there is no filesharing conspiracy. Maybe downloading intellectual property and internet piracy will be decriminalized. Or maybe new encoding
and encrypting systems will be found. Much of the content of the Internet finances itself over allowing advertising on its sites. Conventional
newspapers who offer their content for free on the Internet can only do so because of ad-space. This will work until someday advertisers find out that
internet-advertising is not as effective is they were told it is. But Im getting ahead of myself, thats another controversial topic for another