Internet A Serious Threat To Creative Media Media
"Want to watch a DVD? Type the name of the film into Pirate Bay, click a link and a few hours later the video is waiting for you on your hard drive.
It's simple and easy and much nicer than going out in the rain to a video shop." (Tom Whitwell, 2009)
For a lot of people the above statement is actually very true and very normal.
Although watching films in cinema is an extraordinary experience, but the evolution of home cinema systems and increasing popularity of large TV screens have managed to more or less create that experience in the comfort and warmth of one's home.
Obviously watching films at home requires some effort to put in in order to get the films, for example one must go to the Blockbuster, which might not be round the corner in some cases, and rent or buy a film.
This means doing a lot to some people.
Their phenomenon is now overcome by introducing the ability of buying or renting DVDs online.
Now we see that internet plays a loyal role to the world of media and entertainment, providing people to have any film they want delivered to them with a very little or some times not at all cost.
This somehow encourages people to buy or rent films online, because it is easy to do so, and hence the increasing number of people purchasing online could even contribute to the film industry.
Internet has been helping the media industry more than we can imagine.
One of the most obvious ways is through advertising, which causes a very fast global recognition of any piece of art, being a film of a music album, etc.
There are now many website such as iTunes, Amazon, etc which encourage official downloading of music albums and films.
This is one of the best ways in which internet could have helped the media industry because more and more people would prefer to buy their favorite CDs and DVDs online rather than having to get out in a cold and rainy weather.
Apple announced that on 25th February, iTunes sold its "ten billionth" song online (Christian Zibreg, 2010).
It is very hard to believe that an online shop can help the music industry this much.
This really is a revolution in digital media industry as to how fast and efficient the music albums can be spread across the globe and how easily it is accessible to everyone.
But this, like everything else, has two sides to it.
There are always people who want everything for free and there are a lot of them, we must call them abusers.
These people do not consider the fact that many individuals have been working to produce a piece of art for us, and in addition to having left a legacy of themselves for us and future generations, they do want to make money out of their jobs.
This is very simple.
These abusers have come out with some ways as to how to crack a DVD for example and then share it online over a vast number of sharing sites like "The Pirate Bay, TPB".
It is interesting to notice that TPB encourages its members to support the website by withdrawing money from its members in many different ways such as donation, buying support wear, advertisement, etc.
These kinds of websites appreciate the fact that they depend on support from society in order to be able to continue on what they are doing, but the paradox here is that they simply disregard the artists' right to also depend upon this support.
"A study, conducted by economics firm TERA Consultants on behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce, said that the UK's creative industries experienced losses of 1.4bn euros in 2008 because of piracy." (BBC, 2010)
This can be really destructive especially towards small scale media producers and artists.
Online sharing websites obviously decrease the number of people who pay for their favorite film DVDs and music albums and as a result the amount of money and profit made in this way.
Although this can really damage large industries like Hollywood, but the scale of damage is many times more drastic when affecting smaller industries.
There are a lot of individual artists who gather and produce a music album in their home studio and provide their work to the society and rely on their support.
Sharing website and internet, in this case, are really damaging and threatening these industries and individuals.
Not only do they not make any money this way, they may also lose their jobs and eventually their media life especially small scale productions and individual artists and independent producers.
So far we have seen how internet can be either a friend or an enemy to the media industry.
People can sit in their homes and easily download music legally or illegally from their computer to the best of its quality.
On the other hand some people may not want to download music digitally and wish to have the original CD with its information pack inside it and lots more.
These people are collectors and would like to have all CDs or tapes of their favorite artist rather than downloading them digitally.
In this case again they can easily order the original CD through many websites like Amazon legally and again not have to leave their home.
This, as mentioned earlier, decreases the number of people who go out to shops to buy a CD.
"The month of July 2010 saw an 18% increase in online sales with UK shoppers spending £5 billion in one month - the biggest monthly rise for three years." (Leon Tong, 2010).
This figure shows how internet shopping is quickly growing and becoming more popular.
Therefore a lot of high street shops that benefit from selling CDs and DVDs are now facing a catastrophe and being threatened of closure simply because they cannot make enough money.
I have personally observed the opposite effect in countries where internet use is not as popular as here in the UK or internet speed is very low.
In those countries, because of the lack of access to the internet, high street media shops are making so much money simply because people cannot download from internet and as a result they have to get their favorite CDs from a music shop.
This to some people may look like an old-fashioned way to get our hands on the CDs that we want, but if we look accurately we see that this so believed old-fashioned system is in my opinion a very good one.
Because in this system everybody is a winner, the music producer, the high street shop and the buyer.
The only problem to it is that it might be considered a waste of time for some people especially for those whose time schedule is busier than other and might not be able to find the time necessary to go out and buy stuff.
It was not a long time since the beginning of file sharing websites to when The Big production companies started to realize and face the threat and take action against these sites.
Napster, known to be the first peer-to-peer (P2P) MP3 music sharing website, started to operate in June 1999.
"Napster was the first well-known music-exchange service, allowing members to download MP3 music files from each other for free.
The system was the first large-scale peer-to-peer (P2P) information exchange, where people exchange files with each other rather than download them from a central library." (Levin, Young and Baroudi, 2007: 142)
"Although there were already networks that facilitated the distribution of files across the Internet, such as IRC, Hotline, and USENET, Napster specialized exclusively in music in the form of MP3 files and presented a user-friendly interface.
The backend system was built by Napster's Chief Architect, Jordan Mendelson.
The result was a robust system whose popularity generated an enormous selection of music to download - at its peak there were 80 million users and 25 million songs but the system never once crashed." (Wikipedia, 2010, Napster, [online]).
On 2ndOctober 2000, A&M Records sued Napster for "contributory and vicarious copyright infringement under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)" (Wikipedia, 2010, Napster, [online]) and Napster lost the case.
Currently there are a lot of online sharing websites such as The Pirate Bay, BitTorrent, LimeWire, etc which use P2P file sharing system.
In this system, when users come online, they can share their library of files over the websites and other users can then browse and find what they are looking for.
In this case when you are downloading files from someone else's computer, they can access your library and download some files from your computer.
Although there are ways by which you can decrease the amount of files that you are providing from your library to these websites, but the fact that others are downloading from your computer at the same time slows down you computer and internet connection dramatically.
Another problem is that because you cannot possibly know every single person who has access to your files and can download from your computer, your pc in vulnerable to different kinds of viruses.
Perhaps this keeps many people away from P2P websites, but again the story doe not end here.
There are many online sharing websites currently present that do not use P2P system to share files and media, such as avaxhome.ws.
In these websites, a user simply uploads a file to the website and then other users can directly download from the website.
This has two advantages, one is that there is no decrease in internet connection and computer speed, and two the risk of getting viruses is significantly dropped.
A lot of these websites even have forums where people request a specific software, film, music album, etc and if someone has it, then they upload it for others.
Some people think that these illegal uploading and downloading of files and media in particular is the responsibility of people who upload them over the internet not the ones who download them.
They think that if there is going to be any sort of prosecution, then the "up-loaders" should face it.
"The controversial Digital Economy Bill has been passed into law during the wash-up period, which sees outstanding legislation rushed through before a general election.
The most controversial aspects of the bill - which could see persistent illegal file-sharers disconnected from the web and copyright holders given the power to block access to websites hosting illegal content - survived the process." (BBC, 2010)
The government goes further than this as to how to fight against illegal sharers of media files.
" £20 broadband charge to fight online music and film piracy." (Philip Webster and Dan Sabbagh, 2009)
Piracy seems to have decreased dramatically in France after having placed the "Three-Strikes Law".
The music industry here in the UK, wants a similar action to take place against piracy.
But still some people disagree and think " that wouldn't be enough,?because the technology would still exist, and these heartless file sharers might use other avenues, or carry on copying CDs somewhere." (Peter Judge, 2009)
We have seen, during this essay, that how internet revolutions have helped the media industry.
The introduction of new advertising tools, advertising via internet, has provided the media with a larger global recognition.
On the other hand, websites such as Amazon, have made the media industry a huge profit through online selling and e-commerce.
Furthermore, the innovation of iTunes with millions of users, has again helped and contributed towards the profits made by the media industry through a more advanced system of e-commerce.
The art of e-commerce has obviously played a vital role in making profit by the media industry, but in contrast it has done the opposite for the high street media stores by decreasing the number of customers for them.
The emersion of online sharing websites such as Napster, on the other hand, has damaged both the industry and the high street shops.
This phenomenon has by far made harm to independent industries compared to bigger-scale ones.
The position that government has taken against the media piracy can lead to a very bright future in terms of cutting down the amount of piracy taking place each year.