Opinion Staff Editorial

Internet Piracy: no one is guilty nor innocent

The Stop Online Piracy Act got nixed in bill form before it could become law,  but don’t be surprised if SOPA or one of its clones make a comeback before too long.
Of course The Daily Cougar would never advocate larceny or piracy, but committing copyright infringement is near unavoidable. If you’ve backed up a song or copied pages of a textbook for a classmate, you’re technically a file-sharing pirate. Even those who haven’t copied and pasted a single byte of copyrighted material are susceptible to purchasing counterfeited goods, aka bootleg sunglasses.

File sharing is still vague in law, and so was SOPA. This caused a lot of confusion and overreaction, and the last thing we need is more uncertain laws. Texas Rep. Lamar Smith — who introduced SOPA — denounced “misinformation” and the opposition in an editorial for Politico in December.

“SOPA helps American innovators by protecting US intellectual property from foreign criminals. The bill targets conduct that is already illegal,” he wrote. Why he doesn’t care about worldwide innovators is a mystery.

He also said SOPA makes it harder for online “thieves” to profit from selling copyrighted goods.
“We cannot let misinformation distract us from making the online marketplace safe for US consumers,” Smith said.

Smith has a point: Misinformation is bad. However, Smith is full of misinformation.

There are no money transactions in sharing — period. Pay-to-download sites exist, but the real money comes from ad revenue, not pirating.

Secondly, most downloaded content is decades out of circulation, or not sold in stores. If the content is commercially available, it is usually overpriced. Companies made their profit a long time ago, and that is that.

Admittedly, digitally stored information does have commodity value. Yet plenty of producers advocate open source of their wares. Why? Because contracted actors, artists, painters, musicians, writers and cartoonists easily get conned out of their fair share thanks to corporate legal nonsense. Even rich musicians say they are paid far too much for what they produce. Ask Bono from U2.

The law shouldn’t blame consumers, it won’t help producers and it can’t hurt the pirates.


  • I agree, online piracy is not necessarily as harmful as SOPA made it out to be. Many of the CDs I bought in the past have become scratched and unreadable over time, so today rather than buying the same albums again for $20 a pop I simply download the music for free. This doesn't hurt anyone because I have already paid for the music once before. I have also discovered new music through downloading that I never would have heard otherwise. I think that as long as you do not sell what you download for a profit, then there is no problem. If you really want to support a musician, go see their live shows. Most of the money for record sales does not even go to the musicians, but instead to the overpaid record labels.

  • This is the dumbest thing I've read from the daily cougar…and I have read dumb article after dumb article for four and a half years. Just because you judge people to make too much money from something means you can still their stuff?!?!

    Ask your self this: how would you like it if people pirated a product you produced? It is easy to condone theft when you are not the victem.

    Jared is right in the fact that downloading a cd you have already purchased does not count as pirating and for that file sharing does serve a good purpose but one that is often miss used.

  • adfadf you might want to EDIT your grammar and spelling before insulting the newspaper for being “dumb”. Otherwise they might come over to your house and “still” your stuff.

  • There is a Finnish metal band about at the moment called Turisas. A friend of mine told me they were good so I downloaded the 2 albums they had out at the time.

    As a result my ‘theft’ I’ve not only paid money for subsequent albums that I wouldn’t have done otherwise, but I’ve also seen them in concert 3 times (twice as the headline act and one as a support band) and even bought a T-Shirt at one of their gigs. Thanks to piracy this band has actually made money from me.

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