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Copyright VS. Downloading

Updated on September 2, 2012
Copyright? | Source

Over the past little while we've been bombarded with massive amounts of information about SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and other bills such as PIPA, OPEN and in Canada, Bill C-11. It is no surprise that there is a major divide between those who are for and against these bills. For artists it would mean the best protection for their original works. But for consumers it would most likely mean "fair use," downloading and access to many websites would be abolished.

To understand this issue one needs to dial back the clock a bit to the late 1990s. at that time the first well known file sharing program became a reality, that of Napster. Created by Shawn fanning Napster allowed users around the world to share files. Unfortunately the files shared by most were films, music, software almost all of which was under copyright. It wasn't long before Napster had millions of users and after a lengthy lawsuit it was forced to shutdown.

I will say this for Napster. They committed no crime. They simply provided a platform that allowed users to share files. They hosted no illegal downloads for people to download. Users could have just as easily been sharing their own works but they didn't therefore every user was violating copyright not Napster. But it was simply easier to sue Napster instead of launching twenty million lawsuits against it's users. So Napster was reorganized into a legal downloading service but became a shadow of it's former self.

After that point a long line of many different file sharing services appeared from Kazaa to Emule and then eventually came torrent sites which again didn't have illegal files on their servers but simply provided a means by which individuals could share files. Now SOPA, PIPA, C-11 and other bills seek to target these sites but they also in the process threaten sites like Google, YouTube, Wikipedia and a huge lineup of other incredible sites.

Why? With the new laws it would be illegal for any website to link to a website that has links to illegal downloads. I know many are saying, "Well then don't link to illegal download sites.:" But it isn't that simple. Sites like Google which is a search engine has millions and millions of links all across the Internet. How could any company ever be sure that not a single site that they are connected to has no link to an illegal download. Also the Internet changes on a daily, hourly, by the minute/second pace. People continue updating their sites, new sites are added at a speed that boggles the mind. Why should websites, honest businesses be forced to shutdown because they are criminalized for what isn't even on their own website?

It would mean the end of YouTube. Which I might add generates millions of dollars in revenue for it's users. Those being paid create their own content and this is their livelihood. It would mean the end of Wikipedia which has lasted for the past decade, this online encyclopedia bring free knowledge to the world I use this site on almost a daily basis for research as do hundreds of millions around the globe. It would mean the end of Google which has jumped from being just another search engine to creating operating systems for mobile devices, their own payment gateway, and a long list of other projects.

If you think it would stop there think again, these sites are some of the larger sites but it would simply filter down through millions of websites as hosted sites become flooded with unreliable claims of infringement and effectively shutting down sites. The entire massive ecosystem of the Internet would degrade and evaporate. We will have allowed corporations and politicians to wipe the Internet clean. Maybe then they could start anew each cutting the remaining network like pieces of a pie and sell it off to the highest bidders. Will we honestly allow them to do this?

As an artist who creates not just written works and poetry but music, sculpture, paintings, films, cartoons and many other things I can honestly say I made my peace with the reality of downloading. This is something that is and will always be. For all artists I would say there needs to be a new way for them to make money from their craft other than simply selling physical copies. But leave the Internet alone. It is one of the few neutral places we have left where democracy rules. The Internet belongs to all of us and not just a handful of greedy companies.

Let me know your opinions on this either for or against I always listen.

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    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      Keri Summers - I can certainly see where your coming from as an artist of many things. I suppose they will have to find a balance. I just can't support SOPA because it would most definitely end the internet as we know it now.

    • Keri Summers profile image

      Keri Summers 5 years ago from West of England

      I think it would be wrong for sites with the structure that the Wiki's, YouTube, HubPages etc provide, to be able to be taken down under a blanket accusation of breach of copyright. But I do think people as individuals should take copyright more seriously, simply because everything (TV, books, etc) is heading so far towards being web-based, that I find it difficult to see a free-and-easy, share-everything web being realistic. Too many of us are going to be increasingly relying on the web-based media for our only source of income. I love stuff being made available for free, and commend it, but I don't think anyone should feel under pressure to be okay about their photos/writing/films being used for nothing. An interesting article and an important topic to debate. Thanks.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      teaches12345 - I can understand wanting to keep children from seeing porn on the internet but I think that is more of a parents duty than the governments. But your right when you say there are harmful things on the internet but there are great things too. As it seems to me the goverment isn't looking to just stop what is harmful about it. They will play into that to make as many people go along to gain what they want but they just want to commandeer the entire system. You are right when you say we have to stand up and speak to retain our rights. Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      It seems that the government may be setting up the use of technology as a porthole to censorship. This will also create an avenue for selected media/technology use of the internet. We do need the government to sift through internet sites for harmful content such as pornography to protect the innocent. We must speak up for our rights before we find that we have lost our freedom of speech.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      kj force - I am surprised you got a response from the state reps too. But I guess that means when enough people yell in a loud voice they have to listen or risk alienating voters. I will continue to speak out and thank you for doing the same :)

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      barry1001 - Glad were on the same page, thanks man :)

    • kj force profile image

      kjforce 5 years ago from Florida

      I too agree with you and did sign petition regarding SOPA and PIPA, rec'd a response from three of our state reps( was surprised to say the least)I am retired from the Medical field( another controlled entity) and a published writer. There are so many things we are have lost control of in society any more..although most Americans will NEVER believe it. If we do NOT speak up soon, ALL as we have known it will be lost. Great Hub,keep it going..

    • barry1001 profile image

      barry1001 5 years ago from North Wales

      Great Hub. Completely agree with you.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      hoteltravel - your right we can't let SOPA and other legislation be allowed to deprive us of the internet. Hopefully there is a solution to this in the future.

    • Lateral3 profile image

      Lateral3 5 years ago

      I share your alarm at the prospect of Google and Youtube being forced to close down. I feel they will have to rethink this one; If we all stopped using the internet economies would collapse.

      I don't know how much legitimate business is done online every day, but if we all had to shop in the high street instead it would have major repercussions. Most people only turn their PC on to use the internet; leave them turned off the power companies would see a drop in revenue.

      I suspect the new laws are more to stop ordinary people from communicating freely than they are with protecting copyright. That's a dim view I know; but I have come mistrust politicians absolutely.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      Kieran Gracie - I think as you do current laws are sufficient. If they are determined to change them they are going to need to find the perfect balance between artist and consumer and I'm not sure that can happen. Thnaks for reading and commenting!

    • Donald1960 profile image

      Donald 5 years ago from United States

      Very "hot" topic.Totally agree that people should learn to respect other s property. I am personally against all types of thefts. We need something not to restrictive but efficient.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      Dahlia Flower - I can agree to that. If people learn to respect others property then I suppose they wouldn't be trying to do this. I don't think every time new technology emerges we can put a tourniquet on it making it bad for some because it could be bad for others. One persons rights don't trump another persons. Thanks for reading you have me thinking again :)

    • hoteltravel profile image

      hoteltravel 5 years ago from Thailand

      Wow! Superbly written hub explaining the complex issue in easy-to-understand style. Internet is one of the most democratic of places and offers a platform for all to express themselves. It has opened up unlimited opportunities for young and old. Reining it in with rules and regulations is as good as gagging it. I agree with Kieran Gracie that the issue is not going to be resolved easily. The stakes are pretty high. Voted up and useful.

    • profile image

      Kieran Gracie 5 years ago

      Thank you for a useful and informative hub, terrektwo. This issue is not going to go away, because there are some very big guns on the other side and I don't think they are going to give up too easily.

      The problem seems to stem from the legislators trying to get the internet providers to do their jobs for them. The existing law is good enough - if an artist or, more likely, a publishing company feels it has a case against somebody illegally downloading one of its products then it is able to sue for damages. Just because this would be difficult does not make it any less effective. Already there are cases of individual Twitter users being sued, so I don't see why it can't happen to illegal downloaders. A few high-profile cases might prove a sufficient deterrent for all us little guys.

      We need to keep the legislators from trying to take the easy way out.

    • Dahlia Flower profile image

      Dahlia Flower 5 years ago from Canada

      You've made some good points and some of the points lead to complicated issues. Even if we wanted everything to be completely fair to the original creator of a photograph or other product, fair use could be argued if the user of someone else's product were to find himself or herself in court. I think integrity and example need to lead the way in each of our circles of influence.

      Excellent topic and article.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      DonnaCosmato - thanks I appreciate that your on my side in this the internet shouldn't be controlled and I felt I had to write on this, thanks for reading!

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      I'm with you. The last thing we need is more governmental intrusion into our private lives or another way for them to try to control or censor what we heard, read, learn...voted up.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      R. J. Lefebvre - All I can say is power to the people! The internet belongs to all :)

    • profile image

      R. J. Lefebvre 5 years ago


      What a remarkable hub. I agree with your conclusion; its a tool for all of us, let it be!