26 September 2013

Is sharing now the same as stealing?

Digital media does present certain problems when it comes to sharing. You need to have compatible hardware and software for example.  Since nothing is in physical form, you can’t simply give your copy for someone to listen to, but you have to transfer it to their device. Some media has copyright protection coding that not only makes it hard to share or pass it to a pal, but even to another device that you own. 

Corporations are working overtime to convince people that they don't own the stuff they buy.  If the rights change to another company you might  find stuff you bought disappearing from your hard drive, disabled or charged an additional fee for. More and more consumers have the right to pay for things but have no control what happens to it when they don't want it anymore. If someone dies, what will happen to their giant media collection? Can it be left to someone? Truth is, no one really knows anymore. 

I am not saying that there are not problems to work out with these new technologies or that people should be able to just distribute things without any restrictions but the basic act of sharing should not be so easily made into criminal acts. Libraries could be considered (and maybe are  by some) as illegal entities distributing massive amounts copyrighted material freely to the public. Big companies have managed to extend copyright to a ridiculous extent. The people who created the media rarely get anything from sales anymore and the rights which used to pass into public domain after a few years can now be prolonged indefinitely, long after the creators have passed away. No one should be paying anyone to sing Happy Birthday at this point in time. There needs to be less delay in passing things into public domain and more making money by supporting new products and not just selling other people’s work who can no longer personally profit by it.

Yes there are nuances and complex legal arguments in this discussion to make but, in a way that’s the point I’m making. Its those arguments and the laws created by them that are turning sharing in far too many cases into stealing