By Stephen Cook
The Center for Copyright Information (CCI) has created a new ‘Copyright Alert System’, partnering with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in an effort to crack down on piracy.
The system is designed to alert individuals when they have downloaded an illegally shared file from a peer to peer network, according to the CCI website. Major ISPs, such as AT&T, Time Warner Cable or Comcast, will display a message telling you there was illegal activity. If the activity continues, then users will be able to receive up to six alerts before they are issued a “Mitigation Measure”. This will include consequences such as reduced Internet speed or the requirement to complete an “online copyright education program”. The CCI said that ISPs will not be able to use account termination as a means of a Mitigation Measure.
In light of its recent debut, the program has received some negative responses regarding its methods and processes.
Patrick Lafferty, assistant professor of interactive media, believes that although the program is “low enforcement”, it is arbitrary and is not set up to be transparent. It is dangerous to allow private corporations to police what he called “the most important communication tool.”
Lafferty said it is all about how systems have not yet caught up to the modern world.
“We don’t have the same protections on opening an email as we do opening a snail mail,” Lafferty said. “I can mail you a letter and it’s illegal for anyone else to open that, but everyone can open my email to you.”
The way people go about purchasing and discovering their music has changed too, according to Lafferty. Thanks to the Internet, fans can buy directly from artists, allowing the band to be fully supported monetarily.
“Piracy is an industry problem,” Lafferty said. “We as fans want to support the artist; I really don’t care about supporting the guy in a suit, who’s making millions of dollars off that artist.”
Kevin Tehan, student, said he stays away from pirating because it runs the risk of ruining a computer. Additionally, Tehan said it comes down to an artist’s rights.
“There are some people who it might not hurt, but there’s definitely principle behind it,” Tehan said.
Since these files are available to anybody with an Internet connection and a computer, Tehan believes that people pirate because it is easier than paying for it.
“It’s a shortcut,” Tehan said. “It’s always out there.”
Piracy is a worldwide issue, Lafferty said. If there is a movie or music available in another part of the world, some people turn to the Internet and file sharing to obtain it if it’s unavailable in their country.
“Personally, I think that information wants to be free and I think that we are seeing a transitional time,” Lafferty said. “It really started with the birth of the Internet but it’s come into focus since Napster.”
Free music doesn’t always mean piracy is involved. Brian Padavic, adjunct assistant professor, music, said the freedom of distributing one’s music depends on whether the artist is with a record company or is independent. Padavic, who teaches songwriting and digital audio classes, said artists who do not have a contract are less restricted than those who do.
“I think it comes down to an individual’s choice, how do you want your music to be heard and how do you want to make a living off of it, some people, some artists only do their art,” Padavic said. “Whereas if you have a full time job or maybe you’re a part time or full time instructor, you’re making a decent income and you might not be as restrictive on who owns your music.”
However, although giving away your music for free can give you good publicity, Padavic said. You have to step back and see what you are really gaining.
“At some point you’ve got to ask yourself, when am I losing financially and what am I gaining globally,” Padavic said. “At what point is it a risk that you’re giving away your music for free or that people are just burning CDs and [handing them out].”
Padavic said he believes it is up to the artists to decide for themselves what the best way is to distribute their music or movies.
“I think we live in a very special time and I think those who adapt to the times are those that are going to be more successful,” Padavic said. “Only time will tell where this technological age is going to take us. But I think it’s a beautiful thing and I’m embracing it and I think a lot of other artists are too.”
Contact Stephen Cook, editor-in-chief, at firstname.lastname@example.org.