How fair is free internet?
Every person in the music industry works hard to be innovative, progressive and creative. This is how they make a living. However, through the illegal spreading of intellectual property, many musicians see their hard work unrewarded. How can the European Union be of assistence to the musician who works hard to make a record, only to see it being downloaded for free?
Brussels aspires to safeguard this creativity and innovation of musicians, scientists and professions alike by enforcing intellectual property rights. With these regulations, the EU hopes to decrease piracy, counterfeiting and illegal trade, whilst at the same time guaranteeing that payments go where they are due: to the author. These regulations are not without reason. Counterfeiting and piracy account for up to 30% loss in sales in certain sectors, severely decreasing the potential of development and innovation. Moreover, major violators of property regulations are said to maintain links with organized crime, making money, for example, through advertisements on websites that spread ‘free’ music or films or the mark-up on counterfeit goods. Though the problems are inmense, methods to tackle them are slim. Legal measures that can be taken are insufficient, and the availability of technology makes it difficult to trace the real criminals. The upsurge in International Property Crime goes by unnoticed, and to an extent unpunished.
Counterfeiting and piracy account for 30% loss in sales
On the other hand, personal freedoms are highly valued by European citizens. Even though problems regarding copyright theft are widespread, unrestricted acces to the internet is considered to be of greater importance. In addition, the availability of free music, films and books give great comfort. Why pay for something when you can get the same product for free? The consumer is surely to gain from the breaking of property rights in the short run, and they should not be blamed for it.
Should the European Union implement regulations that restrict the freedom of the internet? Should a tax on technology be introduced to compensate the creative minds that see their profits end up in the pockets of criminals? In my opinion, a consumer should not be punished for making use something that is widely available. Instead, more should be done to confront those who spread illegal property and reap profits they do not deserve. If the penalties will be raised and rules enforced strictly, there should be no need to bother the consumer with taxes or fines. End the illegal spreading of property rights by confronting the distributors, not by punishing the consumers.