Hold on to your hats folks, it’s going to be a dry one (and I’m going to use the word ‘creator’ way too much). Read at your own behest.
So copyright is a thing, and I’ve been trying to get my head around it a bit better. If you are somehow unaware, copyright is “a form of intellectual property that protects the expression of ideas” (copyright.com.au, 2015). Basically, copyright is designed for content creators, so that they can control how their content is used, and so no-one else can profit off of the creator’s work. What copyright tries and succeeds in accomplishing is making creators feel secure in the creation of ideas and content, without fear that someone else is going to see their work and replicate it, essentially diverting the revenue stream from the original creator to the replicator.
This in itself is a hugely important function. I mean, who in thier right mind would ever create new content if they knew that as soon as they did, a thousand copycats would spring up. Maybe some would be worse than the original, maybe some would be better, but that isn’t relevent. It would distract and confuse consumers, and absolutely detract from the revenue of the original artist (different word for creator – I’m trying it out). Yes there is going to be some who do it purely for the love of the craft and the need to tell a different story, but I feel that for every one of these truly creative people, there would be 10 willing to exploit their work for a less work-intesive buck. Coming up with new ideas that will resonate with an audience is hard. Taking them is not.
What about a different look at copyright? The ethical side. The ethics of copyright, you say? Surely it’s clear cut. Don’t steal other people’s ideas and content and pass them off as your own. Well yes, that is clear cut: don’t profit off of other’s work when you did nothing to deserve it, got it. But what if I’m not profiting, but still not looking copyright straight in the eye? What I’m talking about is piracy.
Not that sort of – wait, actually yeah, that sort of piracy. Picture source: wondergressive.com/, 2013
Like an estimated 8.9 million others, I was recently awed by the season 6 finale of Game of Thrones (I picked that show back up from where I left it several seasons ago just to watch season 6 – totally worth it). What I want to know is: does that viewership number (variety.com, 2016) also include those who pirate it? Furthermore, it this a breach of copyright? Yes, and that is why torrenting is bad news. On an aside, the reason torrenters get punished and demonized by the law so harshly is not particularly because of what they downloaded, but rather because of what they uploaded to other torrenters – read more about how torrenting works by someone who knows more than me at How Bittorrent Works (Warning – mildly technical).
The point I’m kind of meandering around and have not quite got around to making yet is that I don’t think that piracy is necessarily a totally negative thing (Wishy-washy, Charlie Brown!). I don’t want to suggest that it is a positive influence, but the greatest thing about piracy is that it is available to everyone. Which means that anything can have a totally global audience, but the catch is that the audience isn’t paying to see the work. This is less of a worry to me than it is to large Hollywood studios who are actually affected by this loss of revenue, but I get eh problem in this picture. All I’m saying is, it lets me watch Game of Thrones before I find out the latest spoilers via a meme on my Facebook feed. That I am all for.