Digital Piracy and the Artist

Digital piracy is the ultimate fear for any artist. To do something for a living without receiving the rightful pay is pretty aggravating. But everyone has illegally downloaded something or other at one point in their lives. That’s the world we live in.

Digital piracy was at one point mostly popular with music. “‘If iTunes started three years earlier, I’m not sure how big Napster and the subsequent piratical environments would have been, because people would have been in the habit of legitimately purchasing at pricing that wasn’t considered pernicious,” said Richard Sarnoff, a chairman of Bertelsmann, which owns Random House, the world’s largest publisher of consumer titles.” This is an interesting point that he makes. I’m inclined though to believe that there will always have been some sort of digital piracy for music, or anything else digitally available, since people always want more for less. Perhaps we would not have been as hungry for free music, but to some degree YouTube makes that hunger a reality. If we can listen to it for free, why can’t we have it on our iPods for free?

Digital piracy has expanded since then to not only music, but films, and since pdf’s and e-books, print as well. “Now, with publishers producing more digital editions, it is potentially easier for hackers to copy files. And the growing popularity of electronic reading devices like the Kindle from Amazon or the Reader from Sony make it easier to read in digital form.”

Though published in 2009, this article still remains timely as self publishing (through companies like Amazon and Apple, who have the Kindle and tablets) is growing and challenging traditional publishers. In fact, I would argue that the need to have more content for a smaller price, even free, is becoming worse. Although now Amazon is allowing authors to set their content at their own price, many buyers are very stingy, and authors, especially in fiction, know they cannot overcharge for their books. After all, the consumer is who the writer writes for, and without pay, the write might write, but certainly not for a full time job. Consumers have the power to drive prices down, but thankfully, there are still avid readers who still believe in paying authors and creators their rightful royalties.

Digital piracy definitely does not have the same affect on artists who produce paintings, drawings, and other forms of art in that respect. However, if you Googled Van Gogh’s Starry Night, not only is it readily available, but you can find it in a wide range of sizes, versions, colors, etc. So it’s definitely there for all types of art, but does not affect them all equally.

While reading this article, I was really surprised to see Wattpad listed. When I was in high school, I posted content on Wattpad, and I really liked the website for one reason: it had copyrights for every user for free. No matter how large or small of a portion the site’s content is made up of piracy, this violates authors’ copyrights to their content. And it obviously doesn’t end with Wattpad; all piracy is a violation of copyright. Copyright is especially aggravating because not only is it a violation of the royalties that rightfully belong to an author, but it also somewhat violates their privacy and intimacy with their own ideas, content, and time and effort that they’ve invested in their book or whatever it may be. This might be a stretch, but that is certainly how I would feel if my book was being pirated.

Works Cited

Rich, Motoko. “Print Books Are Target of Pirates on the Web.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 11 May 2009. Web. 6 Nov. 2015.
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