Internet piracy has become a big concern for companies in the entertainment industry. Whether a company makes movies, television shows, music or video games, they have been impacted by piracy. Websites such as the Pirate Bay and Sumo Torrent, however, seem undeterred by copyright laws that were meant to protect intellectual property. It is important to consider why so many people think that it is OK to take copyrighted material from these sites rather than pay for them through legitimate channels.
What is a Product in Today’s World?
The word product once meant a thing that was made by someone. Today, however, a product does not have to be a physical object. An mp3 is very different from a TapouT t-shirt, yet they are both considered products. Although we all know that these two things are both products that are bought and sold, our sense of ethics might not really understand the difference. Someone who wouldn’t think twice about downloading a pirated album might never even consider stealing someone’s purse.
The Ethical Drag
Some researchers have even surmised that our ethical mindsets see piracy as a good thing. To some extent, human survival has always depended on sharing. This could mean that evolution has given us the inclination to share when we can. Piracy, especially torrents, often emphasizes the importance of sharing with others. It is possible, therefore, that we simply have an ethical drag that prevents us from seeing Internet piracy as theft. It’s sharing, and our brains have been programmed to see that as a good thing.
If people participate in piracy because deep down it feels like altruistic sharing, then no laws are going to change that. Teaching people about the impact of piracy, however, could help remold what we think of as giving and stealing. This approach would likely have a bigger impact than simply suing everyone who has downloaded a few songs without paying.