Thursday, 4 April 2013

Piracy - Copyright infringement becoming a growing risk to innovation and investment: how can Member States regulate open source media without stifling competition?

Nathalie Thiel (SE)

Artists on a sinking ship
We are all aware of the situation of today where it has become more common to download media files, both legally and illegally, and listen or watch to free music streaming sites such as Spotify, than it is to purchase these products in real stores. We have all heard the downhill statistics concerning CD and film sales. Stores shut down; hard working artists give up; businesses close. This affects a whole industry and the business community is worried about today’s trend. It is not only a worry to the European Union, but also for industries all over the globe. Perhaps, without realising it, most citizens that are involved in piracy are in one way or another indirectly supporting and dealing with organised crime. Nevertheless, the question is whether the European individual does and should care about this matter?

Piracy is an ongoing and growing issue. This is something that has changed rapidly over the last decades. The ongoing directives by the European Commission are now considered rather outdated and therefore not made for the present generation. Neelie Kroes, the EU’s Digital Agenda Commissioner, agrees to the previous statement and declares that the measures have been ineffective, “We need to keep on fighting against piracy, but legal enforceability is becoming increasingly difficult. The millions of dollars invested trying to enforce copyright have not stemmed piracy”.  
Moreover, Kroes is concerned over people’s perception of copyright, regulating piracy and the current system in general. People seem to tend to focus on the negative perspectives which often claim that they would hinder innovation and punish citizens. That is not necessarily the case. The need for a stricter copyright enforcement would not be implemented to punish or harm people, but to reward and give recognition to the creators. Still, one argument is that regulations of open media sources would violate one of the most essential Human Rights, the freedom of speech, meaning that websites should be free - a place to share all sort of knowledge and information.

Also, a study on Piracy from the European Commission was released this year, which has caused outrage from the music industry. It claims that piracy is, to an extent, not as bad for the music industry as assumed. In fact, Internet users do not view illegal downloading as a substitute to legal digital music, according to their results. In addition, piracy has a positive effect on music sales and without it, sales would have been even lower. So, the conclusion of this study is that piracy within the music industry should not be seen as a growing concern for copyright holders in a modern time. Instead, however, it highlights the upcoming importance of online streaming sites and their positive future outlook. 
Even though the report from the European Commission showed optimism while putting its belief in a new future market where the spotlights are on streaming sites, it might be too naive to simply rely on those sources. Piracy and illegal downloads are not to be encouraged by any means. A life as an artist is not easy with today’s open source media where information and files can easily be shared globally. The economic crisis has not aided the situation. Surely, some new musicians use the open media to their advantage to give their art attention, but mostly it affects artists to their disadvantage. Therefore, there is a need to improve the protection of the citizens and their rights in order to encourage innovation, creativeness and development, not to restrain it.

Furthermore, organised crime is increasingly involved in piracy in the film industry. Thus, if one purchase piracy films there is a possibility that some of the money will go to funding of crimes such as: drugs, human trafficking and terrorism. Moreover, illegal acts like film piracy and counterfeiting are sometimes more profitable than drug trafficking.

So, yes, regarding to the size of the industry, the number of people involved, and the crimes this can lead to; I do believe that it is something both individuals and society at large should care about, if they are not already. 

Nathanlie Thiel is a 21c Guest Blogger

No comments:

Post a Comment