Friday, December 18, 2009

Copyright Hippies

Copyright Hippies is the term I am giving to those who share or facilitate illegal file sharing of copyright works such as music, films or books with complete ambivalence.

The P2P generation seems to have had a profound psychological shift in what is acceptable behaviour with regard to copyright works in digital format. Despite attempts to educate and discourage through litigation, illegal music downloads are not decreasing.

Even copyright authors who have profited from these rights such as Jamie Cullum openly admit to illegally downloading music. Albeit to try the music before buying it legally.

Interestingly despite illegal downloads, legitimate purchases in the UK of music singles has increased with the itunes generation.

My reaction to all this is to ask: What is your favourite film? What was the production cost? Do you think this film would have been made if the producer did not think they would make a return on the investment from copyright royalties? My answer is that it probably would not and I have never had a conflicting answer. What is their incentive?

I went to see Avatar before Christmas and it was outstanding but there is no possible way that this could have been made (or rather financed) if copyright hippies were allowed to propagate.

The French government seem to be the most anti-copyright hippie introducing a new law which will allow the disconnection of users from the Internet if they are found to be illegally downloading three times. Enforcement will be the issue here - will this extend to Internet enabled smart phones for example.

For me it is a simple trade off. Respect copyright to ensure the creation of good content. The BBC is good example we pay the licence fee each year but the content we get (I believe) is strong.

I also believe that illegal downloads hurt the film/TV industry much more than the music industry because of the initial investment required. Music will always be made but big budget films may not.

Will copyright hippies stop in the same way as the flower power movement? My guess is that they are here to stay and only a technology solution will lead to copyright yuppies replacing the hippies.

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