Look at the two case studies below of people who have become involved in making available or obtaining digital content online without permission.
The first is a news report about a case in Britain where a young man illegally streamed Premier League football from a website at his home.
A man who streamed live football matches through his computer and charged thousands of people to watch it avoided a prison sentence today. Gary G… was only 16 when he started illegally streaming Premier League matches to a website he set up, and undercutting prices charged by official broadcaster, Sky. He used a huge satellite dish, seven computers and nine satellite decoders to run the ‘freelivefooty’ website from his home in Lower Earley, near Reading.
Judge Reddihough told Gary: ‘Companies in this country, such as the broadcasters in this, and the Premier League, are entitled to their copyright and entitled not to have other people using it illegally, as you did. The trouble is that ultimately in cases like this it will be the consumer that ends up paying because if there are less people using it then the prices have to go up.’
At the end of a six-day trial Gary was convicted of communicating a copyrighted work to the public in the course of a business.
The judge told Gary: ‘I bear in mind you were only 16 years old when you started this enterprise and are still relatively young. I have no doubt at all that you were soon aware that what you were doing was illegal and ignored correspondence that pointed out to you that what you were doing was illegal. You carried on and you made not vast profits but some significant gain.’
He passed a six-month jail term, suspended for two years, and ordered him to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,750 towards the prosecution costs.”
Source: Daily Mail – 25th January 2013
- Do you think Gary would have got into such trouble if he hadn’t charged people for watching the football matches? Explain your answer.
- Why do you think the Judge mention Gary’s age when making his ruling?
- What do you understand by the Judge’s logic that ‘it will be the consumer that ends up paying’? Do you agree?
- In the court hearing, the Judge said: “The fact, I’m told, that there are a number of other websites and enterprises conducting the same illegal operations, does not help you. If anything it calls for the courts to impose deterrent sentences.” What do you think he meant by this and to what extent do you agree?
This is the opening passage from an article in The Sunday Times:
A couple of years ago, someone wrote on a student website: “Hey relevant organisations reading this. I download shedloads of illegal music and movies. Please trace my IP address and arrest me.”
Provocative it may have been, but the writer knew nothing would happen. And while it may have been only one person, make no mistake: these are the words of a brazen, law-breaking generation. The idea of paying for the arts is utterly alien to many of them. It’s become so common, even people who work in the arts world themselves do it, undermining their own financial future. It’s so shrugged at these days that when episodes of the new Game of Thrones were leaked online, commenters on one newspaper website were openly telling each other where they could find them…
Source: Illegal downloads of music and movie are killing creative industries – Jonathan Dean – The Sunday Times, 26th April 2015
- Do you agree that young people today constitute a ‘brazen, law-breaking generation’? Explain your answer.
- Elsewhere in this article, one young man who downloads content illegally describes himself as a ‘small fish’. What do you think he means and who might be the ‘big fish’?
- To what extent do you agree with this young man that illegally downloading on a small scale (i.e., being a ‘small fish’) doesn’t really matter? In what way might your perception change if millions of people are doing the same thing?
- What do you think the writer means when he says people who work in the arts who download content illegally are ‘undermining their own financial future’?
- What ‘official’ sources of music downloads or streaming do you know of?
- Look at the average costs of downloading a music track. Where do you think the money you pay for a track goes?
- Find some examples of artists who’ve made their material available online for free. Explain what you think they have got out of this arrangement.