Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the most well-known film series in the world, and is a multi-billion dollar franchise due to this popularity. As the title suggests, the central characters are pirates and the main objective of a pirate is to (apart from find treasure) steal from other ships, or in other terms to practice piracy. Piracy still occurs today, not only at sea but over the digital realm of the internet. Online piracy is the illegal copying or unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted materials from the internet (Wise Geek 2012).
With the issue of online piracy has arisen the argument of those ‘for’ and ‘against’ the matter. Proponents of online piracy argue that piracy doesn’t financially impact a company (e.g. music labels) to a large extent; instead in some cases it may aid sales of a product (Wise Geek 2012). They believe that the vast amount of those who pirate videos, music and software are people who would not purchase the product in the first place, thus not effecting sales (Wise Geek 2012). In other cases, some argue that people pirate music to do a bit of a ‘taste test’ – to see if they enjoy it, and if they do will begin to pay for the music, attend concerts, buy merchandise etc and thus feed money into the system that way. On the other end, opponents of online piracy strongly believe that it poses a serious threat to creative and artistic development to the music, movie and software industry. Thus, reducing their profits and the incentives that they need to produce new work.
This has caused governments around the world to prepare legislations that will prevent online piracy. This includes such negotiations as US bills: Protect IP ACT (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Both bills are aimed at foreign websites that infringe copyrighted material (Newman 2012), and thus if the bills are enacted it would be made possible to block American internet users from accessing foreign websites accused of infringement (Newman 2012). However, the bills also pose problems for major search engines and websites who share copyrighted information without authorization, causing major website Wikipedia along with other sites to protest against the bills in January 2012 with blackouts lasting 12-24 hours (Paul 2012).
For the time being SOPA and PIPA have been shelfed, a sign of relief for many major sites and internet users. However, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which was first presented in Geneva in 2008 with similar aims as SOPA and PIPA, has 31 signatures and awaits those of another six countries in order to come into effect (Ray 2012). It is evident that the major issues that arise from these bills is that the internet no longer presents itself as a free platform to enjoy and share content. If ACTA is implemented, internet servers will be made to monitor each and every individuals online movements – all information going in and out will be surveyed (The Revolution is now 2012). If you are found on more than one occasion to send or receive copyrighted information your internet will be blocked and you will be fined or imprisoned (The Revolution is now 2012). This is as simple as uploading a video of you and your friends at a party and in the background copyrighted music is playing – you are in breach of piracy.
Therefore, if ACTA, SOPA or PIPA are implemented the internet may very well be on the brim of destruction – how will sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook continue to exists?
Wikimedia, the organisation that run the not for Profit Corporation Wikipedia (Paul 2012) stated: “It is the opinion of the English Wikipedia community that both of these bills [SOPA and PIPA], if passed, would be devastating to the free and open web.”
As Wikipedia has stated, the internet will no longer present itself as the open and boundless playground that it has always been – imagine being fined for posting a picture of yourself on Facebook because there’s a Coca Cola poster or other copyrighted material in the backdrop of your photo… it seems that the term ‘piracy’ for ACTA, PIPA and SOPA has alter from ‘robbery’ to capturing copyrighted material in any form (i.e. through photography, sound recording, and/or video recording etc).
Newman, J 2012, ‘SOPA and PIPA: Just the Facts’, PC World, accessed 14 April 2012, <http://www.pcworld.com/article/248298/sopa_and_pipa_just_the_facts.html>.
Paul, I 2012, ‘Wikipedia, Other Sites to Protest Anti-Piracy Bills with Blackouts’, PC World, 17 January, accessed 14 April 2012, <http://www.pcworld.com/article/248274/wikipedia_other_sites_to_protest_antipiracy_bills_with_blackouts.html>.
Ray, L 2012, ‘International IP Agreement May Change Net Forever’, Tharunka, accessed 14 April 2012, <http://tharunka.arc.unsw.edu.au/international-ip-agreement-may-change-net-forever/>.
Solution is now 2012, What is ACTA, online video, accessed 14 April 2012, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8Xg_C2YmG0>.
Wise Geek 2012, what is online piracy?, Conjecture Corporation, accessed 14 April 2012,< http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-online-piracy.htm>.