There have been little murmurings in the news recently of a crackdown on illegal downloads. Broadband providers are seriously considering ‘turning you in’ if they realise that your internet use is composed of a lot of time on Pirate Bay.
Yes, Sky and Virgin are actually thinking about suspending your account if you are a repeat offender. They’ve also promised to make it more difficult for users to find illegal download content. I’m sure the film industry – much like myself – is absolutely rejoicing at the news.
Why? Well, whatever way you look at it, it’s theft. In the same way that shoplifting pushes up the prices for regular, paying customers, ‘stealing’ a film by illegally downloading it pushes up the price of cinema tickets and DVDs. “Going to the cinema is too expensive!” is the usual phrase rolled out by those who download. It’s so expensive because there are so many people not paying to watch the films.
Not that I’m harping back to those classic piracy adverts – You wouldn’t steal a car, you wouldn’t steal a handbag etc – but that’s essentially what these major internet providers have agreed upon.
Anyone who thinks that it’s a victimless or harmless crime – I’ve actually heard “At least I’m not buying dodgy DVDs, it’s just a wee download” – is wrong. Illegal downloading costs the film industry an average of £60 billion a year. This transpires to the loss of 8,000 jobs per year in the UK. No wonder a cinema ticket is more than a tenner.
I’m thrilled. I feel like a mug because I pay for Sky, Netflix and a Cineworld card whilst I frequently hear people talking about films they’ve watched on Kodi or some other site rather than going through the proper channels.
And whilst the purchase of a Kodi box is perfectly legal in itself – they sell them on Amazon after all – everyone knows fine well they’re not buying it for legal uses. They want Sky programmes or recent cinema releases they wouldn’t otherwise have access to because they haven’t paid for it. Under this new initiative, Kodi users who are found to be streaming such content will also be penalised.
It makes me so angry that people are so casual about blatantly flouting the rules whilst others are paying their fair share.
Google and Microsoft are also cracking down on illegal downloads on the grounds that it is theft of ‘intellectual property’ (i.e. because all these films have copyrights). It’s amazing that such big names firms are backing the venture. Especially when, for years, they have clearly turned a blind eye to it.
Netflix is £6 a month. You can get a Sky basic package for £11 a month. A Cineworld card is £17 a month – use it twice and it has paid for itself. In this day and age, when access to TV packages and streaming services has never been cheaper, there is no excuse for illegal downloads.
I love the experience of going to the cinema. Sitting in the comfy chairs, smelling the popcorn, the shared experience of laughing along with an audience. I even keep my ticket stumps. I can’t understand why you would swap that for yet another night in with your laptop or in front of the TV. It’s just not the same.
I should point out, of course, that illegal downloading isn’t a criminal offence. It’s covered under civil law. That means that the person or company you’ve ‘stolen’ from can sue you to try to get their money back, but you can’t be sent straight to jail. However, it is reassuring to know that major players in the internet search engine and broadband game are going to introduce tougher measures.
After all, you wouldn’t steal a car, would you?