Philosophically Opposing Views of Online Media Piracy

Shaun M. Johnson Web Design

In the article “Is Music Piracy Stealing?, editor of Apple Macintosh news and reviews of products and trends, Charles W. Moore expresses his opposition and philosophical views concerning the legal ramifications and conviction of users that freely download or share copyright infringed music and/or video online. Moore challenges the character of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and the legislation that backs the laws by not arguing the fact that it is technically illegal, but whether the laws and consequences against obtaining free copy written media are just and fair.
Ad campaigns launched by the MPAA and press articles released by the RIAA stated “copying is stealing” and to “educate”, or in other words, teach lessons to and make an example of random Internet users who end up getting caught with unauthorized copies, downloads, and/or swapping infringed media files with others (Moore page number here). Although not a pirate, Moore appears to be enraged seemingly, by this issue and continues very colorfully by questioning the character and integrity of these groups, accusing them of legal terrorism and calling their legislation, draconian. Backed by surveys conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, he offers many staggering percentages of various demographics and very stern numbers indicating all-in-all that, most people know it’s illegal and just don’t care. He then goes on stating similarities to actual, physical shoplifting and questions the fairness of corporation monopolies.
By raising questions to turn the light bulb on in one’s mind, he argues his justifications by giving examples like: Is it unethical to photocopy reference pages in the library? , song sheets for the church choir?, or what about pages in books or magazine articles? Stating that, in the case of downloading online music or video, “the copyright holder is no worse off materially than he or she was prior to the piracy“( Moore 244). He goes on questioning, whether or not ruining someone’s life by putting them in prison is petty considering what else happens when government backs big business legislation. For the parenthetical documentation, you need to give the author’s last name (the author of the article not the person who is being quoted) and the page number where the quote appeared as your citation. If you give the author’s name in the sentence, you only need to give the page number at the end of the sentence. For example: Winn stated “this is your quote” (231). The period always comes after the citation.
He continues his tear on the self-righteous hypocrisy of big corporations, analogically comparing businesses like GM Foods and the government backing of its monopolization of seed genetics, chemical patents and processes, client relationships and questioning its ethics and morality. He finishes by summing up with his philosophy on the comparison between the tangibility of “actual” physical property and not “intellectual” content, stating that ultimately the fight is about money, power, and control. His argument questions the legalities and ethics of it all. Yet, only some “pirates” can be taught the lessons, which will not bring about the end of the already “doomed” copyright and the “malicious stealing” of media by the average Internet user.
Each side has their own reasons for feeling just in whatever the opposing issue is. The higher authorities will not budge and will protect their common interest until “a high enough proportion of society decides that a law is unjust or unfair and chooses to ignore it (Moore 248)”. There really are many similarities between photocopying magazines and downloading a song or movie, especially if the “guilty” does not use the material to claim as their own, trying to make money by selling it illegally.

Works Cited
Moore, Charles W. “Is Music Piracy Stealing?” The Blair Reader Exploring Contemporary
Issues. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner, Stephen R. Mandell. – 6th ed.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008. 243-249.