By Dominic Estevez
While most people think of pirates as the unyielding, gun-toting scallywags that patrolled the deep blue seas for treasure and booty of the olden days, most pirates in today’s world commit crimes in the cyber world. Most victims of cyber-pirates are recording artists in the music industry. On a report conducted by the Institute for Policy Innovation, billions of dollars are lost every year solely due to music piracy. In addition, technology to pirate music from sites such as Napster and Youtube has made it extremely easy to commit crimes such as illegal music piracy. Since pirating is committed on such a regular basis, has piracy become socially acceptable?
“I guess it is ok just as long as you do not get caught,” senior Cristina Moses said.
Even though nothing physical is being stolen, people are taking what is rightfully property of the recording artist and using it recreationally, even possibly reselling the music without paying for it by virtual means. However, websites and the music industry are cracking down on pirates. Youtube has become more aggressive by scanning and claiming (or blocks from viewing) any video that has copyright material, for both audio or visual. Although this system has numerous flaws and has stirred up heated debates on internet forums, it has made free music and shows even harder to obtain. However, senior Kerk Ang claims that these corporations have no right to intrude on people’s privacy by tracking their every move.
“It is kinda grayish,” Ang said, “you may be chasing down people who are doing illegal things, but you are also interfering with everyone else’s private affairs.”
While it may be true that these new companies are cracking down on piracy, they also have chances at ruining lives over small problems. There have been court cases where teenagers are sued by big name music industries because they shared free music on sites. The consequences ranged from hundred-thousand to million dollar fines owed by the teen because an industry wanted to make an example out of them to send a message to pirates. Some Barons believed that this was a major injustice and that there should be a different punishment system that is less severe, such as warnings to first-time offenders or major fines to people running the pirating business who have repeat offenses. Others have suggested an approach where pirates pay small increments of money for each song illegally obtained or shared.
“The web is so unregulated, but I feel like there are bigger fish to fry, such as human trafficking on websites or extreme pirating,” Teacher Shannon Bruce said.The moral values of piracy remain wrong, but it is equally as wrong for corporations to punish innocent kids who did not know what they were doing. In addition to the moral repercussions of piracy, the quality of pirated music and videos is reported to be poor. It is a good idea to question oneself if it is really worth it to commit a crime for a low quality pirated good, rather than obey the law to receive high quality art. But no matter, pirating is stealing, not only from the music industry, but also from recording artists and their families.
“I think it is wrong to take someone else’s work, artists work too hard to not make the money or the respect that they deserve,” freshman Aubrey Zide said.
Will pirating be stopped in the near future? Probably not, as there are more serious issues for people to worry about on the web. However, piracy remains a serious problem for not only the music industry, but for teenagers and other areas that are frequently pirated, such as the movie industry. Breaking the law should not become a common practice that is socially acceptable, it must be classified under misdemeanors such as robbery or vandalism. We must remember that piracy is not just fun and games that people can laugh about on a regular basis, it is defined as a crime under law, and it should be punished as such.