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Streaming Entertainment Lessens Piracy … But is it Enough?

Written by David Jones on September 9, 2014

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Entertainment piracy has come a long way since it began. Bootlegging movies in black and white and recording tapes from the radio to sell to your friends never had a fraction of the impact that modern, digital piracy has had on the entertainment industry.

As with Internet security in general, every measure of technology invented to crack down on piracy has been met by a more skilled method of undermining it. “Piracy is a form of theft, hands down,” declares criminal defense attorney Channing Neary.

“You are enjoying a product without giving back to the industry or to the individuals who created it. This practice is inarguably unlawful and unethical.” As a result, the entertainment industry continually seeks ways to defeat digital pirates.

Where enforcement and controls have failed or been overcome, entertainment experts say compromise will more likely diminish the frequency of illegal downloading. Different sectors of the entertainment industry are taking steps to end piracy and uphold the integrity of the work.

Music

The music industry has changed immensely in the last decade. From the advent and popularization of torrent file-sharing systems such as Napster, LimeWire, and Kazaa to the more recent option of downloading mp3s from YouTube at no cost, filling your home library with music has become a steal … literally.

There are few ways to moderate these practices, but officials have been cracking down and lawsuits have been filed. The music industry has seen a slight decline in piracy due to legal streaming.

Licensed Online Streaming (LOS) sites such as Pandora, Spotify, 8Tracks, and others offer a place for music lovers to create playlists or stations of the music they enjoy. The material is licensed to these sites, which renders the practice completely legal.

This provides a benefit to listeners, who can create playlists and fine-tune their listening experience toward their preferences while the entertainers get paid.

On the downside, listeners have to endure ads and an inability to skip tracks unless they pay to upgrade. Despite a slight upturn in legal sales since licensed music has become available, these sites do not satisfy all listeners.

Access to and ownership of every song a music fan enjoys is still too easy to snag without consequences.

Movies and television

Another area of entertainment affected by piracy is the visual sector. Movies and TV shows are pirated every day through ripped discs or video recasting.

Search your favorite program or film on YouTube and you can probably find entire episodes or features. Worse, it’s fairly easy to Google them and find downloadable seasons or feature films with the commercials or preview ads stripped.

Research indicates most illegal downloaders are not reselling for profit. Still, it only takes one illegal distribution, whether for profit or no profit, to disrupt the deserved income for the entire cast and crew of your favorite movie or show.

What’s available to stop this practice? The answer is live streaming; or, as they say, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

People want to stream movies and television shows without having to buy DVDs or wait for prime time. The industry struck back with a vehement “fine, then,” and offered services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Instant Video.

These outfits allow viewers to stream shows and movies through their computer or gaming console, as well as offering disc-by-mail services to your home. This approach has had greater effects and garnered more membership than music streaming services — though it’s important to recall that television and film industries had experienced less piracy than music to begin with.

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