As Students, we constantly battle with our never-ending lack of money woes. When it comes to our pre-drinking CDs and lazy movie days it’s simple for us, with the click of a button, to access free-to-view movie websites and mp3 downloading software. Simple and convenient as it is, do we ever stop and consider what laws are being broken to allow us access to this entertainment? Do we feel bad that most of the content we are enjoying over the internet is being shared free of charge?
Recently, US authorities have threatened to extradite British student Richard O’Dwyer, the founder of the popular website TV Shack, due to copyright infringement charges. The search engine website, which US authorities claim to host illegal links to pirated films and television programmes, was shut down in 2010 when UK authorities raided Mr O’Dwyer’s home in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. US authorities had issued a warrant to seize all equipment belonging to Mr O’Dwyer, who is alleged to have earned an estimated $250,000 through the website.
A worldwide petition, directed at the British Prime Minister David Cameron, was set up by Mr O’Dwyer’s mother. It opposes the extradition of her son and has currently received over 23,000 signatures including that of Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia.
The past year has already seen a heightened interest in issues surrounding piracy, with the SOPA bill attempting to implement vast and permanent censorship on the internet. The battle between the entertainment industries and the interests of the general public continues, however, though we may believe that all musicians and music producers frown on people’s ease of access their music for free, many encourage it, as it helps lesser known bands to reach a wider audience. A large number of us may never have heard of the site Mega-upload – a service that many of us would have used unknowingly for streaming our favourite television series’ or music videos.
Mega-upload constituted a massive 4% of the entire Internet before it was shut down leaving the founder, Kim Dot Com, facing life imprisonment for crimes including conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. Kim Dot Com, name legally changed from Kim Schmitz in 2005, commissioned a music video to be made advertising his file storage website, which featured major celebrities such as Will.i.am, Alicia Keyes and Snoop Dogg, who all praised Megaload throughout the video. Upon his arrest and pending the trial, the video was controversially pulled from both Youtube and Vimeo, though copies have since been re-uploaded.
Despite the ongoing piracy battle in the world, do these frequent news headlines affect our attitudes on streaming free entertainment online? Are we prompted further to use these websites which unbeknown to many of us are probably illegal? In my view, unless the entire internet is shut down, most of us will continue to avail of such websites and software materials which every day, are becoming much more easily available.