Internet comes with a number of conveniences in today’s daily lifestyle, especially in accessing information. It is easier to access whatever information on demand at a click of a button, unlike in the past that required the reading a library of physical books. However, the continued development of the internet has led to a number of challenges when it comes to protection of intellectual property. Film and music industries are the most affected by the ability of the people to share information over the internet without permission. Creativity deserves compensation, thus making illegal sharing is a serious crime that denies the owner some earnings (Liebowitz 12). In the recent past, the government has put measures to ensure that people pay for downloads in order to benefit creators of the information. Of course, such measures have had various impacts to the illegal downloading.
The availability of various materials in the internet makes it easy for various people to access and download music and other materials without paying. This becomes the major problem to the persons who may not have the ability to afford the paid downloads (Rothman 1). Therefore, the presence of file sharing sites over the internet should be the main concern of the regulators who work towards encouraging paid downloads. Ethically, it is understandable that the creator deserves to get compensation for the content. However, challenges still exist on the manner of making people to pay for downloads. At present, United States leads in the number of prosecutions when it comes to the illegal downloading, imposing heavy fines to the consumers who are found guilty. The UK and Canada have also come up with certain laws that will see illegal downloaders prosecuted and forced to pay fines or face jail.
Therefore, laws that enforce paid downloading have made illegal downloading a serious crime that is punishable. In the United States, illegal downloading is a criminal offence that may attract very large amount of fines or jail term. For instance, committing an online infringement of copyright information can lead to a three-year jail term or millions of dollars in fines. Such measures are meant to discourage the people who thrive on sharing the content with copyright protection. According to the US law, repeat offenders risk imprisonment of up to six months. One basic argument lies in the purpose of the illegal downloading. Some people may make an argument that illegal downloading for non-commercial use is allowed. However, the law may make such a person civilly liable to the damages and loss of profit, leading to fines. In order to seize persons committing such offences, the industry has special tracking elements in the file-sharing sites in order to get IP addresses of the downloaders.
Paid downloading ensures that the creators of the content receive their return of investment. When it comes tomusic production, many stakeholders are involved in ensuring a successful production of a song or album. In most cases, an artist signsa contract with producers or promoters before the production process. In most cases, the artists are given advance payments for their work before promoters start selling the products. All the agreements are made in anticipation for the sales of records using different platforms. Paid downloads is one of the ways of making sales from the wider global internet market. Therefore, illegal download and sharing denies the promoters and the artists their rightful dues (Rothman 2). Imagine of a situation where the promoter makes an advance payment to the artist and then fails to realize sales of the product; this is a real loss to the many stakeholders involved in the production process.
Paid downloading deprives the illegal downloading sites from undue economic advantage. In most cases, illegal sites that share online content provide a platform where different companies make advertisements. These sites may not gain from the sales of the illegally downloaded materials; however, the paid adverts provide steady revenue for the owners of the sites as well as other companies like Google. Therefore, paid downloading is important when necessary laws are in place to regulate some of the illegal downloading sites. In today’s, it would be difficult for most of the people to buy a music or program online while the same thing is available in another site free (Liebowitz 8). Copyright laws are the major platform that will help in promoting content creators.
Arguments arise as to whether illegal downloading is the main reason for the decrease in paid downloading. Statistics show that the number of music album sales continue increase each year, as compared to a decade ago. This brings into question the real impact of illegal downloads in comparison to the paid downloads. Is it true that stopping all illegal downloads would lead to people resorting to the paid downloads? Music copyright advocators believe that controlling illegal online downloads would automatically lead to the increase in the online sales. Nevertheless, this argument is debatable, owing to the fact that live performances contribute the bigger percentage of the revenue in the industry. Statistics show that most artists in the music industry get their livelihood from the live performances. That means that people may use to illegal downloads to find out some of the latest hits of an artist, with the purpose of attending the live performances. On the same note, it may not be mean that less or lack of illegal downloads will lead to increase of paid downloads.
In Britain, it has been difficult to make a balance between the interests of the internet user verses the industry. Many publications show that illegal sharing of online files leads to the loss of millions of sterling pounds each year. Currently, the government has put in place measures to ensure that the illegal sharing of files does not happen. In order to support this initiative, the government works hard to collect and share the IP addresses of the users who practice the illegal practice. By this, it is easy to find the identity and prosecute the culprits from any part of the Kingdom. Digital Britain and Ofcom are some of the institutions with responsibility to ensure compliance of the laws in place in the UK. However, for Britain, it has been difficult to ensure a serous for all users. Making internet-downloading criminal is not a positive aspect of control, especially for the internet user. On the same not, prosecuting under-age teenagers who download material in their bedrooms is also a case for consideration.
Paid download ensures safety from viruses and spyware from the criminals. Illegal downloads are mostly done from the peer-to-peer software sites. Such sites may lead to a serious risk of damage and breakdown to a computer. Most of the files for the peer-to-peer sites that allow sharing of files do not guarantee the authenticity of the source material. That means that the files may contain malicious software that may cause serious damage to a machine. Other dangers of downloading files that are infected with viruses include excessive pop-ups, identity theft as well as the interference of the internet connection speed. It is regretful that an active antivirus may not fail to protect the user against the spyware or virus from a peer-to-peer site. Therefore, paying for downloads leads to the authentic, verified and secure internetmaterial. Therefore, file sharing software need to be avoided in order to ensure safety. Unfortunately, some of thissoftware once activated may share a file, even without authority; it makes it available to others for download (Liebowitz 21).
In conclusion, it is important to ensure that proper regulation is in place when it comes to downloading of materials. On the same note, paid downloading has various advantages to the user and the producer of the material. For instance, the owner will get the reward for the copyright while the user gets an authentic and original material. It is important to remember that illegal downloading comes from the available sharing sites within the internet. Therefore, the law should go ahead to ensure that such sites are unavailable over the internet (Rothman 1). At the same time, their needs to be objectivity when it comes to the amount to be paid for various online products. So far, the US laws have worked towards ensuring that illegal downloading of materials, especially music does not take place. Many people have been found guilty of this crime, leading to huge fines that run to millions of dollars. Above all, paid downloading is a safer and secure option than the illegal downloading.
Liebowitz, Stan. File‐sharing Creative Destruction or Just Plain Destruction?University of
Texas at Dallas USA, 2006. Accessed on January 30, 2017 from
Rothman, Lily. “Illegal Music Downloads Not Hurting Industry, Study Claims.”Time, March
21, 2013. Accessed on January 30, 2017