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Piracy, Copyright Infringement And Counterfeit Goods, The Moral Dilemma
These days many of us will go online, download a song or a movie, without giving it much thought. We certainly don't feel like criminals, but in fact, in the eyes of the government of the United States, this can be a serious crime. In a five year period between 2003 - 2008, it is estimated that more than 28,000 Americans faced lawsuits for participating in file-sharing and copyright infringement, according to digitaltrends.com.
Most of us tend to view copyright infringement as somewhat of a victimless crime , however we are told by politicians, lawyers and governments that it is no different than stealing a CD from a music store. We are told that violating copyright laws is not only illegal, but also morally wrong. There are some who argue that digital piracy will kill the music industry, and record companies and recording artists will no longer be able to produce new music because of lost revenue. Well anyone who believes that simply needs to watch the latest episode of the MTV show "Cribs", and they will find it hard to continue the argument with a straight face.
In an effort to dig deeper into this subject, let us tackle some of the most important questions, before we decide whether piracy is morally wrong. First of all, who are the real victims? It seems pretty difficult to portray movie stars and musicians as victims, with their extravagant lifestyles that are so out of reach to most of us, yet constantly thrown in our face in reality TV shows. It doesn't appear that Kim Kardashian is suffering from malnutrition, her ass isn't showing any signs of shrinking. According to TMZ, pop star and teen heartthrob Justin Bieber, has recently been looking at purchasing homes in California that used to be occupied by the Kardashians, Britney Spears and Ashton Kutcher, prices ranging from 6-10 Million USD. The 18 year old Bieber has made his fortune during this new era, and piracy hasn't seemed to be holding him back at all.
While it is difficult to sympathize with actors and rock stars, there are other issues that strike a chord with most of us as something much more serious. In 2008, The New York Times printed a story suggesting that purchasing pirated good supports such things as child labor, and even terrorism. Now nobody wants to be putting money in the pockets of terrorists and human traffickers, but is there really any truth to these accusations? The answer is a very emphatic NO! These anti-piracy campaigns are using shock tactics to scare people, but they are not based on any facts, and they offer absolutely no evidence to support their claims.
In fact it is well documented that companies like Nike, have admitted to employing children as young as 10 years old, in their factories in Cambodia and around Asia. So a company that employs poor uneducated people in Asia, including young children, and pays them a salary of just a few dollars per day, is trying to give the average American a lecture on what is morally wrong? It is hard to imagine that anyone should feel guilty about buying a replica Nike product, and the same applies to Reebok, Adidas and other big brand names? When it comes to child labor, the rights owners simply have no case, if they want to point the finger at counterfeiters, they will have to clean up their own business practices.
Perhaps the most important question is, what makes pirated goods so attractive to consumers? In many cases, the answer is that they simply can not afford to buy the real thing, whether it is a Luis Vuitton handbag, or a jersey of their favorite sports team, the prices are just too far out of reach. How many Americans can afford to pay thousands of dollars for a designer handbag, or even 250 dollars for an authentic NFL jersey? So the question is, do you believe that low income families should go without, and that only the wealthy deserve to wear brand name clothing, and support their home team? What do you find to be more socially irresponsible, a wealthy woman spending thousands on a designer handbag, or a struggling single mother buying a knock off jersey for her teenage son?
When you start to look at all the facts, it becomes clear that this issue is all about greed, and a battle between the haves, and the have nots. Those who can afford the designer handbags, and expensive brand name clothing, don't want to see those who are less fortunate dressed in the same clothes as they are. The fact is that many rights owners have simply priced themselves out of the market for average working class people.