Monday, April 18, 2016

Stealing and Selling Other People’s Work and Internet Piracy is not a Victimless Crime

This is a mashup of two previously published articles.

By Scott Shaw

            Ever since the dawning of the Internet, bootlegging, (for lack of a better word), has become quite rampant. Meaning, that people copy and sell products that they did not create to other people for a profit. But, none of that money goes back to the people who actually created the product; be it a book, music, or a film.
            Maybe stealing is a better term...
            Certainly, the whole Napster syndrome shook the music industry a few years ago. At that point, people were copying music, uploading it, and “Sharing it” with other people. Though it changed the music industry forever, it also affected the financial livelihoods of many artists.
            In the more recent past, movies have come to be bootlegged, uploaded, and then people are allowed to watch them by paying a price to join the website service that is showing them.
            Now, in terms of high budget films, one could argue that the movie studios have already made a lot of money on these films, so why do they need to make more? Be that as it may, there is a whole other side to the issue. For example, people like myself, who pay for their films to be made out of their own pocket. When these sites get a copy of my films and put them up on the Internet, it can really kill sales. And, believe me, it costs a lot of money and time to make a movie. And, it is very sad when someone else is making a profit from my creation, when I am not.
            Some people believe that the “File sharing sites” are better than the ones just described, as they appear to be free. They are not. Someone in that chain is making money or these site would not be active. Someone, but not the creator of the project.
            Another path where people are commonly bootlegging other people’s creations is in relation to books. I have found several of my books, copied and put up on sites on the Internet. Now, let’s think about this for a moment. The people who do this may like the book, but they did not write the book, they did not spend the money to have the book printed that was laid out by the publishing company. Yet, they scan the books and are selling people the ability to read them on the Internet. They are the one’s making the money. Not the author or the publishing company.
            Recently, I was popping around the Internet and I found a website that is selling scanned copies of martial art magazines. In fact, this site is selling photocopies of several magazines I wrote articles for. They scan them and then sell them.
            Of course, on this website, the people are not honorable enough to provide a name, address, or telephone number where you can contact them. Which illustrates that they know what they are doing is wrong, illegal, and uncool. So, I emailed them. They did not reply.
            But, think about this for a moment. How long do you think it takes to write an article? Then, you have to supply photographs for the techniques presented in the article. This all costs time and money.
            Back in the day, when these magazines were published, they use to pay me $125.00 per article. The photographs alone used to cost me more than that to produce. So, I personally made no money. And, this is not to mention all the time and money it actually took, on the part of the publishing company, to create and release these magazines. But now, here is somebody on the Internet, who had nothing to do with the creation of these magazines, making money by selling someone else’s hard earned work.
            Ultimately, if you’ve ever created something, that you cared about, and took the time and made the effort to get it published or released, you will understand the problem with what is happening when these websites release this information.
            We all want things for free or for cheap-er. This being stated, whether you are paying to access a site or viewing and downloading content for free, you really should think about the reality of what is going on and how your actions are affecting the lives of creative people before you access these sites that sell and make money off of the creative work of other people.

Internet Piracy is not a Victimless Crime

            I was flipping through channels last night and I came upon the Arsenio Hall Show. Prince was on.
            At first glance, this show was kind of interesting in that this same show could have taken place twenty years ago when Arsenio’s first late show was on the air. But, there they were, Arsenio and Prince both looking quite good for their age.
            I was never a really big fan of Prince back in the day. Though me, being who I am, I do own all his vinyl and most of his CDs. It was later that I came to appreciate his music and his contribution to popular music in general. This, though I do have an abstract connection to Prince in that my high school friend, Lisa Coleman, was his keyboard player for a number of years in the Purple Rain era and an actor, Kevin Thompson, who I have used in a number of my films was a Prince impersonator until that era dried up. In any case, it was an interesting show to watch. 
            When Arsenio was talking to Prince they discussed his love and hate relationship with the internet and how music gets out-there for free which really impacts an artist’s bankbook. Though Prince made his own contribution to the changing evolution of music by being one of the first artists to break away from a major record label, what he said made me think back to the time when the whole Napster thing took place and there were a lot of musicians out there rallying against people getting their music for free. I remember when they spoke to Dave Grohl, (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, etc.), and he said, “Why should I care, I’m already rich.” I believe that is an important, and oftentimes overlooked statement to keep in mind when one views this subject.
            There is a certain group of people who now expect to get everything for free on the internet — whether it is music, movies, books, or whatever. But, by taking those items for free you are really causing the person who created those things to not earn money for their creation. As money is one of the most essential elements to life, it is what we must have to survive. And, by taking these creations for free, you are really creating karma for yourself.
            It is one of the most instrumental laws of understood spirituality; do not take things for free or steal things because then karma is created. One should always extend a payment for whatever they receive, as then karma remains clean.
            But to view this subject in a little bit more in-depth manner; first of all, do you think the websites who host these downloads are doing it for free? No, they are not. They are earning money by being in existence or they would not be there.
            From a more philosophic standpoint, (if you want to make excuses for yourself), downloading movies and music financed by major studios or corporation can be viewed as, “Sticking it to the man,” if you want to view life from an anarchistic point of view. But, for people like myself or on a much higher scale someone like Prince, who finances all we do out of our own pockets, it becomes a very different ballgame. For me, I can’t make the same claim as Dave Grohl. So, every dime taken out of my pocket really changes my reality.
            The other side of the issue is that there is nothing I can do about it. My books, music, and movies are out there on this offshore websites being offered for free. Do the people or corporations who run those websites care about what affect they are having on me and the other creative people in my predicament? Probably not. Why? Because they are generating money to support their lifestyle based on the creations of others.
            There is just something wrong in that equitation.
            This is what people really need to think about when they do what they do, whether it be downloading things for free, without thinking about what effect it has on the creator of the work, or simply not taking the time to think about the impact they are having on this world by their various actions.
            What you choose to do and how you choose to do it affects everything in this world. How you choose to live your life affects the next evolution of this Life-Place. So, if you are doing things that negatively impact other people, don’t cry when karma comes calling. Because you are the one who set it in motion.
            Internet piracy is not a victimless crime. And, the victim may end up being you.

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