The age of digital technology has made information easier to obtain, revolutionized the American education system, globalized our world market, enhanced innovative research and made instant communication possible nearly everywhere.
Because of this, much attention has been focused recently on online piracy policies and activity. It seems that the effects of online piracy are virtually immeasurable, practiced by individuals regularly to download free movies, music and software. Hollywood's entertainment gurus have become hyper-vigilant to the activities of Internet surfers and major proprietors of online copyright security.
Nearly anyone can access free media online, allowing individuals to view or listen to files that might otherwise cost money. Technology has expedited our ability to obtain information effortlessly, making many individuals develop a sense of entitlement to this ability. It is important that we maintain Internet freedoms, as limiting access to information jeopardizes what we know and think about. It is equally as important that our entitlement to free entertainment does not cost people their jobs. We cannot afford to sacrifice any part of our local or national job market.
According to The New York Times, “In a letter in December announcing its support for stronger antipiracy legislation, the motion picture association said that '$58 billion is lost to the U.S. economy annually due to content theft, including more than 373,000 lost American jobs, $16 billion in lost employees’ earnings, plus $3 billion in badly needed federal, state and local governments’ tax revenue.' A spokesman for the association, Howard Gantman, said the $58 billion figure came from an economic model that estimated piracy’s impact on a range of tangentially related industries — florists, restaurants, trucking companies and so on.”
Two bills recently directed attention toward the battle between Internet surfers and television and movie producers, but they were dropped.
“The fundamental issue is whether or not the sky is falling and the entertainment industry is being decimated by technology,"said James Burger, an intellectual property lawyer, to The New York Times.
While users want access to entertainment, companies want a steady stream of incoming revenue. Both sides are struggling to devise a win-win situation. The conflict seems to prove that technology and its users grew faster than policy makers could keep up with.
According to The New York Times, “Seeking out an illicit stream of a game that you should be able to watch legitimately is one thing. But media companies say they are facing a relentless barrage of far less defensible thefts involving movies, television shows and music.”
There needs to be a way to regulate what Internet users have access to without threatening Internet freedoms. This becomes difficult when a standard of easy access has already been set. Without a way of generating steady income for the entertainment industry, funds to continue to produce action movies with radical graphics and effects is threatened. Setting a new standard is difficult because the gravity of free downloading is hard to calculate.
The ongoing feud needs to be settled in a way where companies are not losing their money but Internet users are not losing their freedom. When one freedom is lost, it opens the door for more and more of our rights to be slowly chipped away.