Wrong in so many ways: TV3 Target segment on Piracy

Hello TV3 and Target. I was extremely unimpressed by Target's recent (3 Nov 2009) segment on "Piracy". Aside from the fact that the segment pandered entirely to the corporate interests (as opposed to the creative artists) of so called "rights holders", it also used very misleading, and in fact, incorrect language.

The issue at stake is the copying of works produced by creative artists and organisations without recognising their right to a limited monopoly over those works granted by the government of NZ. Copying a digital copy of a creative work *is not* "stealing" or "theft". Stealing and theft necessarily involve physical goods, like a bicycle or car or currency. It is also most certainly not "piracy" which is, in fact, commandeering ships and plundering their physical property on the high seas. It is Copyright Infringement, nothing more and nothing less.

You segment championed the position of a now well-and-truly defunct industry - that of corporate "rights holders" who purchase (or, in some cases "steal") the rights to creative works from artists and then try to maximise their income from those works in return for providing marketing and distribution channels. These corporations ceased to be relevant with the advent of the Internet and prevalence of powerful computing devices with recording/filming capabilities in nearly everyone's house or even pocket.

The only culprits in this story are

  • a tiny number of individuals who fraudulently infringe on copyright and then try to make money by selling the copies, and
  • the corporate rights holders who lobby government ferociously to protect their failing business models.

The former should be prosecuted for copyright infringement as per existing laws, and the latter should grow a spine and come up with an honest way to add value to the artistic/creative process, or die off gracefully. It wouldn't be a big loss.

I respect copyright - I'm a copyright holder myself - and I adhere - to the extent that it doesn't compromise my much stronger human urge to share with my friends and family. I suspect most people are the same.

That said, I also recognise the need for people to build on the work of others. I choose, in general, to release work I produce under a Creative Commons license which allows others to remix it. Just about every thought I've had, every idea I've written down uses words and images that other people came up with first. When you get down to it, everything we think or record as a creative artifact is based on what someone else did.

The sooner people around the world accept this, the sooner the work of the Creative Freedom Foundation will be done, and creative people will be able to get back to doing what they do best - being creative and creating artistic works.

Let's get with the programme, eh TV3 and Target.