Pirating is the 21st century’s method to get entertainment, but does it mutilate the media industry?
In the 21st century a new threat has emerged, but rather than it being through underground black markets and dodgy people in back alleys this can be accessed anytime anywhere even in your own home.
Pirating is the stealing or consumption of illegal content via a web connection. This new way to get unrestricted access to more movies, shows, and games all for the low price of $0 may not be hurting big companies such as Sony, Disney, or NBC but it does hurt the employees of such companies.
“There are regular people like me and you who don’t make 20 million dollars to star in a major motion picture like Angelina Jolie does,” said English teacher and WHHB radio advisor Mr. Timothy Bailey, “but make somewhere in the range of a normal salary between maybe 50 and 100 thousand dollars and those are the people that are really affected; those are the people who are losing work, who are losing money, who aren’t being properly paid for their work.”
More than 70,000 middle class employees are laid off each year due to budget cuts according to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). While other factors are also at play, pirating loses money for these companies and forces them to make sacrifices which include employees.
According to EW.com, HBO’s hit TV Show, Game of Thrones, has recently set a piracy record with one episode being downloaded 13 million times. It is also estimated that HBO lost $44 million in revenue for that episode.
Notably, in 2014, HBO laid off around 150 people.
But who is doing the pirating? Who is this mysterious masked invader of thievery and lies?
Meet Neil Gupta, a 15 year old kid living in a small town with an A average in school — your local pirate.
Gupta has a definitive reason for pirating stating, “If I don’t have the ability to get something, I may pirate it. I ended up [afterwards] buying the Assassin’s Creed trilogy pack just because I liked that pirated version of Assassin’s Creed II,” said sophomore Gupta. “It’s not always entertainment, some programs are crazy expensive and are absolutely necessary if you [want] to do something.”
These “pirates” oftentimes do it because it’s easier to get rather than buying online. “You don’t just pirate for the sake of pirating things,” said Gupta.
The reward in piracy is obvious, but the risk is often less known. According to Massachusetts law, piracy can be punished by up to a year of imprisonment or a maximum fine of $25,000. Average fines, however, would never reach such a magnitude.
For common piracy of movies, music, or TV shows, service providers such as Comcast or Verizon often detect piracy. Pirates will then receive a warning message either by mail or e-mail, and after repeated offenses, would be fined.
For many people who pirate content, the consequences are never seen directly, as it is rare to be caught for smaller acts of piracy.
How does the average consumer feel about pirating though? How does he or she feel when paying for content that can easily be found for free online?
“Honestly, it doesn’t bother me that much, and I wouldn’t hold it against anyone who does it, especially since lots of people just don’t have the money to feed whatever interest they have, and the people who do often buy the things they like after pirating them,” said sophomore Jacob Peck. “Like, if piracy is the only way to get access to the music you love, then that’s fine by me.”
Online piracy has become an epidemic focused mainly in the United States. Twelve and a half billion dollars are lost each year to piracy, along with 59 billion dollars worth of software and 2.7 billion worth of worker’s earnings lost, reports Go-Gulf.
Is all of this worth the chance of receiving $25,000 in fines or $750 per song pirated and a potential year in a federal penitentiary? With a one in 2,527 chance of getting caught, according to Digital Trends, it seems many are simply willing to push their luck. To dodge rising prices of various digital media, the incentive to pirate is continuously growing.