TorrentFreak.com ranked UH third in the nation, behind Rutgers and NYU, in universities whose students download the most torrent files.
While it isn’t known whether the recorded torrents downloaded at UH were legal or illegal, the latter is almost certainly the case. There isn’t any obvious reason our university would be more likely to pirate files than another, and if TorrentFreak were to release another list next year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see different results.
The piracy trend is by no means UH-specific, nor is it limited to college students. Piracy has spread globally and will soon be impossible to prevent, if it’s not already.
Those who develop and release intellectual property — whether in the form of music, movies or software — deserve to be rewarded financially for their work, but times are changing and that’s becoming more difficult. The rewards will have to come from elsewhere.
In the past, there were significantly greater profits from product sales than there are now, and the trend has worried a resilient entertainment industry.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America in 1999, the amount of money from CDs sold was $14.6 billion; by 2009, the number had dropped to $6.3 billion. Piracy played a major role in reducing the music industry’s profits from album sales throughout the decade.
But the Internet is vital to the success of the entertainment industry. It is an extremely effective medium for companies to promote and advertise. The growing number of Internet pirates doesn’t seem to be slowing down, and the entertainment industry is wasting its time trying to stop it. Despite the decaying numbers, the industry isn’t necessarily hurting.
According to TechDirt.com, the value of the global music industry was $168 billion in 2010, as opposed to $132 billion in 2005. The number of feature films produced in 1999 was 1,723. Ten years later, 7,193 films were produced. And according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, movie spending is predicted to rise 3.1 percent every year until 2016.
The belief that the entertainment industry is in danger is a myth.
While media conglomerates complain about the pirates who funnel their copyrighted material through the web, what these companies gain from the Internet will always outweigh the negative impact of pirates.
Internet piracy isn’t all bad; media companies benefit more than they admit.
If a person pirates an album or a movie, critics automatically assume it results in a direct loss of profit, but that isn’t always the case.
The spread of ideas, especially at such a fast rate, results in widespread exposure. Illegal torrents and other prohibited outlets serve as a way for artists to gain listeners they otherwise would not have been able to reach — listeners who show up to concerts and recommend the music to friends.
And no matter how many films are being downloaded, movies have the luxury of the cinema. People will always show up to the theater for the experience. The movie industry has plenty of opportunities for profit; a pirated version filmed with a Sony Handycam is not particularly appealing in a world where video images are getting clearer every day.
The entertainment industry has been and will be fine. Controlling Internet piracy will only get harder as it grows in popularity.
The small percentage of piracy incidents authorities catch is nothing compared to the percentage they miss. In a new age dominated by global connectivity, Internet piracy is here to stay. The media companies this phenomenon affects may be losing profit, but they’re benefiting in other ways. It’s a technological era that everyone — including the media industry — needs to adjust to.
Lucas Sepulveda is a creative writing senior and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.