There is growing concern, discouragement and helplessness among writers, screenwriters, directors, composers and performers, due to the increase in piracy in creative works. It is also a concern of the entities that bring together the different creative branches such as the Argentine Authors’ Union (SADA) which is in a deliberative state due to this serious problem. Let’s see that the conflicting issues are appropriate and that have escaped all control and logic.
The current piracy impoverishes all kinds of authors. The social isolation caused by the pandemic forced a boom in the consumption of series, movies and music through digital platforms. The restrictions on public shows accelerated a trend that had been hinted at since previous years, although it was thought that this conversion would be consolidated in the next five years, however, it was crystallized in 2020 and there will be no return “to the normality of the past” . One of the most disastrous consequences is that with these changes piracy would alter an exponential jump and those “pirate websites” became “pirate platforms” with the ability to steal content automatically at the very moment of an online release.
Immediacy/cloning/scale and occultism. Once upon a time, a movie, paper book or music album had at least some immunity in the release period of the work. There was a first window of exploitation where the work was not reached by piracy. The entire process of digital theft requires time to prepare and distribute physical supports (DVD’s, digital conversion and upload). Today, with the expansion of the networks, that time no longer exists since the capture and distribution is immediate at the time of the release of the same work. Before, the quality of the pirated work was lower because the copy and reproduction methods never reached the quality of the original, however today all “copies” are “clones” of the original work.
With the online distribution of pirated materials, a movie, book or music album no longer reaches hundreds of users but hundreds of miles anywhere on the planet.
The occultism of the illegality of the business is made invisible today due to the disappearance of mechanical reproduction media such as that DVD where the trace of the crime could be followed to the pirate caves. Vernacular piracy like Cuevana, for example, does not have offices or addresses in sight, they are anywhere and nowhere.
The Google problem. The world giant is between symbolic support for the author and complicity with the pirate. There would not be such a scale of hacking if Google collaborated more frequently with creators, but we know that the issue also involves the Achilles heel of Google itself, since its rise as a monopolistic company is partly due to having created an algorithm that links content created by others, breaking borders, national and international laws. It is that, if we ask ourselves: how do you access a pirated movie, book or music album? We will end by talking about the responsibility of Google always because it is the search engine that will finally be able to access it (more than 90% of the world’s searches are done through its platform). It is also true that it is the Justice that should make more precisely visible the criminal nature and the responsibility of the intermediary as an “illegal trafficker of content”.
Demoralizing creators. Some clichés and falsehoods that authors receive to not worry about piracy:
Those who download from pirated sites are probably not the target market the creator intended to reach.” (Who says so?).
Some authors use piracy as a marketing strategy”. (Only those who control the market could realize the luxury of such losses.)
For ordinary authors and creators, the invisibility of their work is a much greater threat than piracy. (Affirmation comparable to “we strip you to make you famous”).
Those who download your work from a pirate site never pay for your work, so they do it because they are free”. (Then let the creator decide when and how he wants to offer his work for free.)
“Art-loving viewers, listeners and readers prefer to buy works rather than download stolen copies.” (unverifiable).
The work is not legally available (yet), and since it is difficult (or expensive) to access it, the pirate is on your side because it helps the dissemination of your work. (They make you an accomplice).
Some of these fallacies hide alienation with an imaginary narrative that seduces neoliberals and pseudo-left nerds alike with simple slogans like “free, unregulated, decentralized, unrestricted download internet”. Furthermore, gratuitousness is confused with freedom. The theft of the creator’s work is naturalized and the pirate’s responsibility is diluted by stating that “we are all lazy with papers”. However, what is invisible is the escalation that piracy has taken. Content theft has become a more profitable industry than content production.
The work of creating The work of creating music, narrative, interpretation or films is not something that is learned in schools or colleges nor is it found in the curricula of formal education, but is a parallel learning process, generally in solitude, sometimes self-taught, other times taught in institutions. deprived of payment and mostly professionalized with work. It is the same authors who experience that the work of daily creation is not a “breath of inspiration that invades the soul” but is the result of an activity subject to complex norms and structures of training, discipline and exchange relationships. The creative act is generally a muscle that works through permanent exercise work, trial-error and multiple creations and corrections.
Writing a feature film script means working on a manuscript for approximately six months. A two hundred page novel can hardly be written in less than four months. How many hours, days and years of training and rehearsals does it take for an actor to be able to perform in front of the cameras? The job of directing a film involves mounting more than a hundred scenes on fifty different sets, in six weeks, and to do so, he needs to choreograph fifty specialized technicians and another fifty artistic cast. Although the pirated work is free, it is also very true that the “user” does not have free access to the Internet; he must pay for his equipment, software and the connection to be able to access the content “for free”. In other words, for music, watching movies and downloading books, the user is already spending money, however, that spending spills over to the invisible beneficiaries of the Internet, those who control their data and their consumption preferences. What seemed idyllic as a decentralized, democratic, free and free network is not such a thing. Once again, Google, hardware-software and telecommunications mega-companies are indirect beneficiaries of piracy, since the more data traffic they earn, the more they will earn regardless of the content of what is being trafficked. Piracy is simply the theft of the work created and produced by another.
Creators, let’s do something now. The greed of piracy has evolved in such a way that it mainly harms the original lone creator, the one who hardly has the will, patience, money and legal capacity to sue the pirate. Justice discourages those who need a quick resolution to be able to live on a daily basis from their job of creating content. Putting the complaint in the author’s head implies intoxicating his main source of resources, that is, his intellectual production.
However, authors should know that there are necessary laws to confront content thieves and collective organizations that defend intellectual property, and even when this fight between authors and pirates seems unequal, on our side there is legal protection; it is necessary that all creators realize that they have the laws at hand to wage this battle.
We must overcome the discouragement that produces an ambiguous and slow Justice and that it is possible to execute the “express blocking” of a URL denounced by the authors. We need a Ministry of Science and Technology that knows how to differentiate between a technological innovation and a simple aggregation of links. From a Ministry of Labor and another of Culture that is firmly expressed in defense of the genuine income of creators. Mega companies like Google must show which side they are on and the “Users” (audience)… too.
*Screenwriter and filmmaker.
You may also like