Running a royalty free music website means that I personally get involved in many discussions about copyright and its implications. In my experience, businesses using music are interested in avoiding legal issues by doing the right thing, therefore moral issues rarely come into the conversation. On the other hand, being surrounded by friends and family not connected with the music industry, I often get into debates with various individuals about the wrongs of downloading music illegally for personal use.
It seems to me that the legal aspect is not well understood in any depth by most people, however, deep down I think people know that it is illegal but they have little regard for copyright law. Furthermore, the moral implication does not figure in their decision to access illegal file sharing. Having had a number of frustrating discussions with certain members of my extended family, the attitude of… “everyone I know does it… and, (insert the name of famous artist(s) here) has enough money anyway”, really p*** me off.
Basically, people will do it anyway because they get away with it, but my concern is the fact that some people have no concept of illegal downloads being wrong. Actually, most of the illegal portals try to give the message that they are not doing wrong and that they are not breaking the law by facilitating sharing. I have actually had people try to tell me that certain torrent sites are perfectly legal! Naive at best!
Anyway, the point is, people need to be educated on the legal aspects of copyright and the moral aspects too. In my opinion, this needs to be a compulsory subject in schools. Maybe if our next generation had a good working knowledge of copyright issues and understood the moral implications of how some artists suffer financially because of this, then maybe we would end up living in a better digital world?
My inspiration for this post was a post by the Electronic Frontier Foundation called Taking Copyright Education Seriously
Their project and website teaching copyright curriculum is commendable and a positive approach in the right direction. If I were to offer constructive criticism on this site, I would like to see more emphasis on other non legal aspects such as, the moral implications, who loses through piracy, how piracy affects lesser known artists / composers, what the affects will be of continued piracy and copyright theft for the future of media.
I also think the website should have a blog / forum and social media aspects too. Also, maybe some kind of accreditation symbol for graduates of the course.
These are just my thoughts for a move towards a better understanding of copyright and what I can only think of as a positive project by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation). Why can’t we have a future where children come home from school and lecture parents about illegal file sharing? I know of a family where the adults and children have all the latest films, music, games and cable TV, hundreds, maybe thousands of items, all pirated. Soon there will be another generation of this family doing the same unless education and attitudes change.
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