How much does piracy really hurt us? The entertainment companies have thrown out some huge number to give us a scare about the damage of illegal downloads. While I would generally agree that downloading something for free which normally costs money to purchase isn’t the most moral thing in the world, it surprises me when they throw out numbers like $58 Billion of losses per year.
Think about that number for a moment. $58 Billion Under the logic of copyright math, as explained above, money seems to somehow bend itself around the fingers of those who twist the laws for themselves. What needs to happen, is using real math, instead of fake math. Let’s use a real life example, taken from a comment under the video found at TED.com
If I were to (hypothetically) steal a $10 album from a local music retailer, net benefit to me and net loss to the record store is valued at $10 (for purposes of criminal liability in Canada, this is considered “theft under $5000” and for a first time offense would go relatively unpunished, similar to stealing a sandwich). If I give away (or share) the CD, the same penalties apply.According to the RIAA, if I were to download a ten-track $10 album and share it once, I am liable for $1,500,000 in damages.Here’s where it gets even dicier:If I were to download one song (illegally, again hypothetically) and then choose to buy the entire album = net benefit to producers +$10. Yet I would still be liable for the $150,000 “net effect” of piracy on the industry? Logic FAIL.
The logic behind this is totally flawed, and it cannot be justified. It’s an arbitrary number thrown out by people who have lots of money to give to lobbyist and government officials that can do something with it (like pass laws, and buy large boats). How does movie and music piracy cost more jobs lost per year than the total number of jobs in the industry that exists?
I know most of you will have an opinion on downloading files online. If you have some insight to share, or want to start a cool conversation about this awesome and yet still very controversial topic, drop me a comment in the field below.