Quick, someone call a plumber!
The internet is leaking all over the place. It’s flooding computers world wide with pre-release albums and pre-printing manuscripts of best selling novels! Someone mop this up mess of stolen creativity before the FBI catches on! Or worse, the artists!
Recently a spate of incidents involving leaked copyright-protected music, books and information have been plaguing the internet. Security has always been an issue online, with blurry lines as to laws. Are consumers sacrificing quality for instant gratification? It seems people are so greedy for instant gratification in our digitalised society that we consider it a right to be able to download music and files that we want instantly. With some false sense of entitlement, people seem assume that anything transferred via the internet is free for their taking in a way that doesn’t apply to real life.
Governor Sarah Palin’s email was hacked by an anonymous party who used the “Forgot My Password” method to access the Yahoo! account. The security questions related to information that was easily available to the public for a figure in her position, such as her birth date and home town. To the hackers’ disappointment, there was no information of interest in the email account except for exchanges from friends wishing her well in the elections and advising she was in their prayers. Palin’s daughter’s cell phone number was also revealed from the email hacking, but as the number can be easily changed this poses little threat. I wonder if the same hacker would have felt comfortable smashing the window of her home, calling the alarm company and faking her identity then stealing her postal correspondence…well, actually, it’s quite possible they would so that might be a bad example.
The download black market
Music has been illegally shared over the internet for years. Popular file-sharing program Napster managed to run under the radar between 1999 and 2001 while record companies lost millions of dollars. Since iTunes arrived on the market with affordable downloads of top quality the download black market for music has weakened. Common fears and complaints from people who used the free illegal music download software were files that contained viruses unwittingly infecting someone’s computer under the guise of a popular song. Napster was shut down in a landmark court case in 2001, though they continue to operate a paid music service with considerably quieter success.
Once upon a time, people would anticipate record release dates with baited breath, line up outside stores over night to be the first in line to purchase them, and handle vinyl records with kid gloves. Now, the digital urgency and impatience from Generation Y who expect information at their finger tips demands that music be available instantly. With a click, you can listen to a sample of music on the artist’s Myspace, without having to get dressed, leave the house, locate a record store, and ask staff if you can listen to the album. With another click and a dollar or two, you can buy a song in about thirty seconds flat. There’s no interaction with people required! No need to put on make up or even deign to look another human being in the eye! No wonder Generation Y thinks the world revolves around them. They want everything right now, often without even having to pay for it.
Blogger arrested over leak
When 27 year old Californian Kevin Cogill leaked a streaming of Guns ‘N’ Roses long awaited album Chinese Democracy on his blog, he was arrested. Charged with violating federal copyright laws, Cogill had put the songs up to be listened to on his site, not downloaded. He also removed the songs instantly when he became aware that it was a problem, and has been billed $10,000.00 in damages to Guns ‘N’ Roses for lost revenue to the band that he does not have the means to pay. Fans have been waiting over ten years for the album to be released. Axl Rose, aging front man of the rock band, declined to comment.
With so little effort involved in file-sharing online, it’s worse than stealing candy from a baby. I think the problem is though that people genuinely don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. Besides, everyone does it…right?
The bands talk back
Some music artists take the perspective that a pre-release leak creates hype and shows that fans are keen to hear the music. Canadian rock band The Dears reacted in the opposite manner to hearing their latest album had been leaked online prior to its official release. They responded by posting the following letter on their Myspace to fans:
So there you have it, friends: our new album and finest work to date, still not due for several weeks, is out there. While we are 100% appreciative that people care enough, The Dears are still pretty old-school. This was not exactly our intention and to be honest, even though it’s kind of cool, we can’t help feeling a little bit devastated. We were always aware of the inevitability, as we are living in the modern age. In fact, we don’t expect anyone to empathize at all. Nevertheless, you now have these options:
a.) download it now.
b.) wait and buy it later.
If we may have any say in the matter, whatever option you choose, we truly hope you enjoy it. We are excited and terrified all at once. Please give it a proper listen, maybe at least four times to start because it is pretty massive, intricate, layered. Much love, much care, and about 16 hours a day for so many, many weeks (months?) went into the making and delivery of it. We work hard for our patrons. In addition, we are not even certain of the quality of the files out there are like but we do know that the official version (out on OCT 20/21 worldwide) is of the utmost quality, mastered by the great Bob Ludwig. The sleeve and lyric book in the packaged version are also very cool so we really do trust that you’ll pick it up when it is released formally.
PS… Hope to see you…
Taking on television
The focus of online file sharing has shifted away from music and moved with the advances in technology to the pirated television and film download market. Ten years ago, internet speeds and the average computer screen quality weren’t advanced enough to download and display files of such dense high quality. Now, however, Australians are watching Gossip Girl on their laptops for free without having to get Foxtel.
I wouldn’t sneak in to an author’s study and photo copy piles of typed pages that make up the manuscript for the next best-seller they have been slaving over for a year. Somehow though, the manuscript for Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows was leaked just days before its worldwide release in book form. Apparently because it was digital and not physically yanked from JK Rowling’s protesting hands, this was acceptable to many fans. Of course, die hard fans of any form of media will always buy the official version once it hits store. But there is no doubt that some revenue has to be lost when a vast amount of people would consider buying the legal properly edited and expertly produced version a waste of time if they have a copy on their computer right now.
Popular teen vampire-theme novelist Stephanie Meyer reacted to the leaking of a draft of her next installment by refusing to complete the work. Devastated, she published the draft on her own site after hearing it was online illegally “so (her) readers don’t have to feel they have to make a sacrifice to stay honest”.
Because you can remain anonymous and not have to look the creator of the work you’ve stolen in the eye, sharing copyrighted works over the internet is easier on the conscience of many internet users. Until it’s your work being pirated, of course.