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Nobody likes having something stolen from them, and essentially that is exactly what piracy is – theft. Merriam Webster (2012) defines piracy as “the unauthorized use of another's production, invention, or conception especially in infringement of a copyright ”. The two largest supporters of SOPA and opponents of piracy are the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Both of these organizations argue that “online piracy hold that it poses a serious threat to artistic and creative development in the world. They hold that piracy cuts into profits, reducing the amount of money an artist or programmer can expect to make, and therefore reducing the incentive for them to create new work.” (Wisegeek; 2012) The RIAA (2012) states;
It’s commonly known as “piracy,” but that’s too benign of a term to adequately describe the toll that music theft takes on the enormous cast of industry players working behind the scenes to bring music to your ears. That cast includes songwriters, recording artists, audio engineers, computer technicians, talent scouts and marketing specialists, producers, publishers and countless others. While downloading one song may not feel that serious of a crime, the accumulative impact of millions of songs downloaded illegally – and without any compensation to all the people who helped to create that song and bring it to fans – is devastating.
A study deemed by IRAA as “credible” estimates the “ANNUAL harm at $12.5 billion dollars in losses to the U.S. economy as well as more than 70,000 lost jobs and $2 billion in lost wages to American workers.” (IRAA; 2012)
Matt Mason, author of The Pirate’s Dilema, states that anyone one “who copies information without permission [by its definition] is a pirate”. (Mason, 2008 [video]) This means anyone who has ever searched Google Images and downloaded a picture without permission of the copyright or license holder is a thief. In a twist of irony, SOPA author, Representative Lamar Smith, could be one of the very people he is trying to prosecute. (Grandoni, 2012; Taete; 2012) In July of 2011 the website (which has since been redesigned) used a photograph as a backdrop in its design yet nowhere on the website was the photographer given credit. (Grandoni, 2012; Taete; 2012)
Piracy: Innovation versus Ethics (Part I): What is SOPA?
Piracy: Innovation versus Ethics (Part III): Does Piracy Hinder Innovation?