How many people do you know who exclusively download music and movies for free? Most people know it’s illegal, but a lot of us still do it. The artist may suffer when people ripoff their work but the consumer also suffers when they have to pay full price for every CD that sparks their interest.
A Montreal man, GÃ©rÃ©mi Adam, was sentenced to two and a half months in jail on March 16. Adam, who pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing pirated films, has been called Canada’s biggest movie pirate. He became the first Canadian ever to be sentenced to jail time for movie piracy, but he probably won’t be the last. In 2007, the federal government tightened the law, making movie piracy punishable by up to six months in jail.
Both movie and music piracy violates an artist’s right to distribute their product the way they want and their right to make a living off of sales. According to the Canadian Recording Industry Association, retail sales in the Canadian music industry have lost almost $500 million in sales over the past five years.
Individuals pay good money for music playing devices that can hold a lot of songs. People make this purchase with the intention of filling up the device with a lot of music. A 32 GB iPod holds over 3500 songs. If one were to use iTunes to purchase each song, it would cost more than $3500 to fill it up. Therefore it is not naive to assume that majority of people download their music illegally. It is simply the most cost-effective method, and it’s just so easy.
People share music files and movies without thinking twice about the implications. But the law shouldn’t make the everyday Joe a criminal. Instead they should come up with a viable solution.
As of now the government can’t pin you for downloading music; it is not a criminal offence in Canada. Downloading music illegally “may constitute copyright infringement and could expose someone to liability in a civil proceeding,” according to the RCMP. But in order to monitor music downloads they would have to monitor everyone’s Internet connection and this is a breach of privacy laws.
Then what can be done? Perhaps there should be a service that has a monthly fee, determined by how much an individual downloads every month. The service could be reasonably priced and cost-effective.
Napster is on the right track. They offer a service with a flat monthly fee. It allows the owner to download an unlimited amount of music. However, there is a fee to transfer the music onto a device and the service is not compatible with all devices. Clearly this is an example of a work in progress. In order to battle piracy and copyright infringement, companies such as Napster have to figure out a way to please the consumer without completely forgetting about the artists.
People were willing to purchase all of their music and rent films before. Record, CD, and movie collections were prized possessions, and still are for some people. The industry just has to find an economical solution to allow people to download legally at a very low cost.
Until that happens there is already a solution in place: moderate your illegal consumption. Individuals should take the conviction of this Montreal “movie pirate” seriously. Recording and uploading media is clearly something that the government pays attention to. These sites should be shut down. People should venture to the movie theatre, the video rental, or the iTunes store to purchase and view the newest flicks or listen to their favourite classics. Nobody watches movies all day long; it is reasonable to assume that paying for a movie rental or ticket won’t break the bank if done in moderation.