Why the Era of Online Piracy Is Over
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- While much of the Internet was still celebrating the success of the thousands of Web sites and protesters who rose up to successfully squash the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act -- two pieces of anti-piracy legislation that critics argued would wrongly censor the Internet -- the chief executive of the powerful Recording Industry Association of America penned an op-ed in The New York Times to lament the demise of the bills and call for something similar to replace them.
"Perhaps this is naïve, but I'd like to believe that the companies that opposed SOPA and PIPA will now feel some responsibility to help come up with constructive alternatives," Cary H. Sherman, the RIAA's chief executive, wrote in the paper . "Virtually every opponent acknowledged that the problem of counterfeiting and piracy is real and damaging. It is no longer acceptable just to say no."
|The era of online piracy is over, and it has little to do with SOPA, PIPA or any other recent legislation.|
Sherman is certainly not the first to argue about the threat online piracy poses to content creators, and he certainly won't be the last. What's different now are the lengths the entertainment industry is willing to go to put a stop to piracy -- and the outcry against those measures. Not only is the industry urging politicians to come up with alternative legislation to police illegal downloading, but there are ongoing efforts to finalize international trade agreements that target copyright violations, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, the latter of which has already sparked protests throughout Europe.
Given how aggressively legislators and the entertainment industry are pushing for greater enforcement against online piracy even in the face of the tremendous public backlash, one might assume that online piracy is becoming more widespread. The truth, however, isn't quite so clear cut.
The recording industry typically notes the decline in music sales and the billions of songs downloaded since Napster launched in 1999 as proof that online piracy is rampant, but several independent studies suggest that illegal downloading is becoming less and less common. The number of Internet users who resorted to peer-to-peer file-sharing services to download music dropped from 14% in the third quarter of 2007 to 9% in the third quarter of 2011, according to survey data provided to us by the NPD Group , a research firm. Moreover, a report from the Computer & Communications Industry Association found that box office revenues increased 25% between 2006 and 2010 and the value of the global entertainment industry increased by nearly $300 billion between 1998 and 2010.