Copyright and Piracy

Copyright and Piracy

Robert A. Schultz (Woodbury University, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-779-9.ch009
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As I noted in Chapter II, information technology’s basic feature of easy reproduction of digital information gives rise both to new benefits and to new ethical problems. Easy reproduction allows new—and sometimes unwelcome—ways of sharing material previously much harder to copy, such as digitized music and movies. Napster, based on the brilliant and revolutionary idea of distributed storage on millions of machines with no centralized profit-taking, was defeated by centralized profit-takers. Of course, there was also an issue of copyright violation. Currently, movie and music companies are aggressively pursuing digital copyright violators. The response of the record and movie companies might have been different. The earlier technological advances of cassette audiotapes and VCRs facilitated copying music and video but did not elicit a wave of court cases against consumers. After an initial attempt to block any copying, the recording and movie industries realized that amateur copying was actually promoting sales. However, since the inception of Napster, music CD sales have gone down significantly. It is an open question whether copying or poor music quality is more responsible. Music commentators state that current industry producers have strong incentives to promote mediocre music in familiar genres.1 An accompanying issue is control of channels of distribution to reduce competition against mediocre music.2 In fact, much of what these companies now treat as piracy had always been considered “fair use” in other areas.3

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