The Internet has brought about a tremendous amount of change–some for the good and some for the bad. Many people have made their fortunes on the web and some have lost their shorts just as quick. The entertainment industry has felt these changes full on and on both sides of the fence. This last summer I went and saw Toad The Wet Sprocket, one of my favorite bands. It was a great show and I had a lot of fun. The concert was in support for a greatest hits album that had all newly recorded tracks of some of their best songs. During the show Glenn Philips, the lead singer, explained that Sony Music owned the rights to the original recordings and they basically had to pay to play the songs and that did not support the band so they laid down some new and improved tracks under their own label. By using technology and the Internet they were able to do most of the work for themselves and thus able to make money and still be musicians. I went over and bought a copy of the new album to support the band.
One of the biggest ethical issues facing both the Internet and the entertainment industry is piracy; the downloading of content without payment or permission of the owner of the content. In the case of Toad The Wet Sprocket, Sony music had the same trouble with piracy as everyone else, however the band decided to do something about it and let their fans know what was going on and it worked for them. They started making money, recording new stuff and going on tour again this summer. They give away songs on their website, have fun with their fans, and even concert ticket are reasonable. I respect the fact that they are fighting their own battles and have so far figured out how to give good music to their fans and still make a living doing what they love.
Not everyone has had the same luck and piracy is running rampant with the FBI shutting down every download site they can and the entertainment industry trying to get new laws passed to protect their interests. Not everyone feels that more government involvement is the answer. In a article by Cameron English in Media and Tech entitled “Internet Piracy is Not the Problem: It’s Time To Eliminate Intellectual Property” he goes on record stating, “internet piracy doesn’t punish creators and artists. In fact, it is the legal war against consumers that has slowed innovation in the arts, and it’s time we ended it.” He goes on to explain that piracy doesn’t always harm sales and that that the ones stealing were not the ones buying and never would be and that intellectual property laws are not as important as people think and that quality products will still make money.
Not everyone feels this same way, far form it in fact. In a recent article in The Washington Post by Cecilia Kang indicates that Silicon Valley and other tech and media giants like Google, Netflix and Verizon are still watching the issue closely and putting extra money into their lobbying budgets. The article indicates that the courts are going to be busy trying to get these issues straightened out. The piracy issues are long from over and it is hard to say what the future holds. In the meantime I hope other artists and professionals can find a way to make it work for them and keep great art coming our way.
“Internet Piracy is Not the Problem: It’s Time To Eliminate Intellectual Property” by Cameron English on the website Policymic.com
“Silicon Valley faces tough use and piracy issues”, by Cecilia Kang on March 22, 2013 in The Washington Post (http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-03-22/business/37920629_1_net-neutrality-rules-open-internet-rules-aereo)