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Debate: Piracy


Two of our writers, Josh Mines and James Smurthwaite, try to get to the bottom of the highly contentious and topical issue of internet piracy.

Josh Mines: Against

However easy it is to feel angry about the recent news of the tightening of internet piracy laws, I find it difficult to see how one can have any massive opposition to this change. At the risk of sounding like those stern, over the top adverts that flash up just as you’re settling down with your popcorn: piracy is a crime. Don’t do it kids.Piracy_Its_A_Crime_Wide

Personally, I love watching movies, and like it or not, films, whether they are Hollywood blockbusters or nouveau art house, cost a lot of money. Free internet streaming services take money away from the big screen. Though it’s easy to think of the film industry as a group of greedy, corporate suits, the consumer also has a duty to protect smaller emerging companies so we can keep enjoying original and quality film making.

It doesn’t have to be about constantly going down to the old picture house to watch the latest releases either. With the film industry moving on to the internet through legal streaming sites such as Netflix and Lovefilm, offer a slightly more cost friendly alternative to watch the latest movies and TV, without the inconvenience of moving all the way out of your bed. As well as that, who wants a great film undercut by murky picture resolution, constant buffering and pop up ads that often plague illegal streaming sites?

I don’t think it makes you a bad, morally insensitive person to watch the occasional film on a streaming site, but if you love cinema then it only seems fair that you should give something back in some way. The tough economic climate hits film production companies hard too, and as the age old saying goes, every little helps.

James Smurthwaite: For

On 22 November, five more internet streaming sites were blocked by major Internet service providers. The president of MPA described how he wants, “an internet that works for everyone… a place for investment, innovation and creativity”, but I wonder if he really appreciates what he’s saying?

You wouldn’t shoot a policeman then steal his helmet!
Image Credit: Newgrounds

It’s a similar problem to the ‘War on Drugs’, free sharing is always going to happen, you can block five sites, but ten more will undoubtedly replace them. If you remove a (relatively) safe avenue for viewers to go down, you only expose them to more subversive, more advert and malware filled websites, which only serves to bring in more money for the ‘Pirates’.

 Netflix themselves support file sharing, they follow trends on BitTorrent to see which programs work best on the internet, as opposed to live on TV, and therefore the ones they provide for their customers.

Furthermore, Vince Gilligan, creator of Breaking Bad, claims the success of his show is down to Internet streaming. It allowed word of mouth to spread the show’s popularity, an advantage that it would not have gained from its small initial TV audience. This is a sentiment echoed by producers of Game of Thrones.

I say, if file sharing is unavoidable let’s at least try to make it legislated. For people that want to pay for a more quality service, such as Netflix, let them, and I’ll be happy here with my slower to load and slightly pixelated version.

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