In the wake of SOPA and PIPA and the millions of voices that shouted outcries to legislators not to shackle the one of the few profitable industries that America has left, internet piracy still remains. What is internet piracy, and why does it get so much attention?
According to CNN, digital music sales surpassed physical CD sales in January, 2012 [source]. According to Billboard, revenue from global recorded music industry dropped in 2012 by 3% to 16.6 billion, sourced from the Digital Music Report 2012 [source]. According to that same report the following countries showed the following as digital sale percentages of overall sales:
- China: 71%
- South Korea: 53%
- United States: 52%
So what gets pirated the most? Rap music is pirated the most, with jazz holding rear guard.
Who’s Responsibility is Piracy Protection?
While the government already has laws in place that make piracy illegal, some question whether or not the government should play a more active role in piracy issues. But what analogies can be made for the same case? Take a software company like Microsoft as an example. Their software is exploitable, and they take steps to prevent it. The steps that they take are very similar to building walls around your house as a defense against intruders. The higher the wall, the more sense it makes to dig a hole underneath it. The lower the wall is built into the ground the more sense it makes to crawl over it. There is always a weak spot because the entire defense is based upon limitations of the resources and knowledge of the software, and that will always be one step behind the crowd-sourcing public incentive to try and crack the security for fun, self-interest, or to make a reputation.
But who’s responsibility is it to prevent piracy? That’s a tough question. In the case of nearly every other industry, the government leaves it up to the industry to protect its own assets to a reasonable degree before offering protection. One cannot simply leave a pot of gold out in front of their store and then get help from the government when pieces go missing. There is an expected level of due care that the music industry should take to ensure that their material is protected. Judging from current trends, perhaps the music industry is becoming more wise to the concept of software and intellectual property protection measures.
Google and other search engines play a role in getting first-time users connected to resources that allow pirating activities of music, software, and other digital media. Google, while being strongly committed to non-biased search results – seems to be pandering to the music and software industries to facilitate more cooperation with the music industry. Google is most likely driven by the a desire to keep their brand identity associated with the positive aspects of web search and downplay the negative implications of connecting users to theft-related web results. In reality, Google officials have to walk a tight line between being purist in their business model of serving users the most relevant results regardless of the type of search, and the real-world politics of the ethics of not regulating the power search engines place in the hands of the searchers.