When is stealing, well, stealing?

Monday 8th of January, 2007 - 11:32 – Permalink

Merriam-Webster defines stealing as follows: "to take the property of another wrongfully". There are also a lot of media organizations who accuse peer to peer application users of stealing their property. If you ask a media executive, every downloaded copy of a movie is a stolen, unpaid for copy. There are two huge problems with this reasoning: 1. A digital copy leaves the original intact. 2. Every download can't possibly count as a lost sale.

I admit to using P2P applications, and I have downloaded stuff I legally shouldn't have. On the other hand quite a few of the movies and TV-series I've downloaded have eventually ended up as bought DVDs. In my case my horrid piratism has convinced me that I do want to shell out 200 Euros for all 10 seasons of Friends on DVD. Ironically, my bought Friends-DVDs won't play on a computer without installing a special (and crappy) player. I also get to watch a bunch of piracy warnings not present on downloaded copies. And the best part is, thanks to 'Lex Karpela', if I were to rip my legally bought DVDs to watch on my wireless media player without the disk swapping I'd be breaking the law.

There are some good news though. Movie download services are finally beginning to appear, even though they still are much more cumbersome than P2P downloading. Most media companies are finally beginning to realize that alienating their customers by calling them criminals is bad for business. (Legal) Suppply may yet meet the demands (already met by P2P) of the market.