I’ll admit it: For those who undergo the files on my computer, you’ll find songs that I downloaded from Napster and other illegal file-sharing sites. On the time — for me it was 2001-2003 — downloading songs illegally was seen as a goof, even harmless. How could a few downloaded tracks hassle a multi-national record label or some millionaire rock stars?
That attitude was totally, utterly unsuitable, in fact, and by the point I woke as much as this reality, the recorded music industry was beginning to spiral downwards. Fast. CD sales had begun to plummet and it became clear that piracy was considered one of the large contributing aspects.
My pirate ways were killed endlessly by iTunes. It was just easier to pay 99 cents/$1.29 for a high-quality audio file than endure terrible sounding, often incomplete, sometimes virus-ridden MP3s downloaded from god knows where. Who wanted the trouble of finding torrents and seeding sites with latest material?
Then there was the difficulty of metadata, ensuring that the songs were labelled accurately. Oftentimes, a torrented song would have the unsuitable title, spell the name of the artist unsuitable, or not include all of the crucial tags. You’ve got to then organize the songs in some way in your library. Besides being unsuitable and immoral, music piracy took an excessive amount of work.
I’ve since amassed hundreds of legal digital downloads. As I write this, iTunes tells me I actually have 79,640 items (564.5 gigs) in my library. Not all are paid-for downloads, in fact. There are various, many CD rips together with other audio similar to interviews, with much being related to my work with The Ongoing History of Recent Music.
When streaming began to take off in Canada around 2010, most believed that this might be the top of music piracy. Why would you hassle to steal something when you would: (a) pay a modest monthly fee and have all of the music you would possibly want; and (b) enroll for the free tier on Spotify and for the worth of getting to take heed to a couple of ads, pay nothing in any respect for all of the music within the universe?
Piracy was conquered. Except it wasn’t. And Canadians are still stealing stuff.
In response to essentially the most recent report by the International Mental Property Alliance (IIPA), a gaggle that represents the interests of not only the recorded music industry, but TV, movies, videogame publishers, and more, we Canadians are thieves. At 241 pages, it’s a protracted report, but it will possibly be summarized on this statement: “It is sort of unattainable to overstate the magnitude of the piracy problem in Canada.”
Drawing from information in a report from the Canadian Web Registration Authority (which administers all of the .ca domains, amongst other things), Canadians are among the worst in the case of pilfering American copyrighted works. We already watch a whole lot of TV and films and take heed to loads of music, however the reports contend that the actual numbers are higher as a consequence of people consuming pirated content.
I quote: “Evidence persists, nevertheless, that the digital marketplace for copyrighted content in Canada continues to face challenges in realizing its full potential as a consequence of competition from illicit online sources. In 2022, 22.4% of Canadians accessed pirate services.”
Nearly 1 / 4 of us? Wow.
We’re doing a whole lot of stream-ripping, apparently. This involves using software to record the stream of a YouTube video or songs streamed from Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, or another DSP (Digital Streaming Provider). “Dozens of internet sites, software programs, and apps offering stream-ripping services find an eager marketplace in Canada,” says the report.
It continues: “Use of peer-to-peer (P2P) sites stays high, with BitTorrent indexing sites including Rarbg, The Pirate Bay, and 1337x popular in Canada. Cyberlocker sites, similar to Mega, Uptobox, GoFile, and Rapidgator, are also a typical option to illicitly access recorded music.”
Theft of music is an enormous issue, but video piracy is where the vast majority of the motion is. The report says that we’re “actively involved” in all the various ways we are able to get around digital locks and technological protection measures.
Pirate IPTV (Web Protocol Television) services — sometimes seen advertised on light poles at intersections — have plenty of consumers. And likelihood is you already know a man who knows a man who can fix you up with more free TV than you’ll be able to handle with a special set-top box. Just Google “IPTV Canada” and watch what comes up. I’ve even seen these boxes on the market in retail stores.
More from the report: “Mimicking the appear and feel of legitimate streaming services, infringing streaming web sites proceed to overtake P2P sites as a highly popular destination for Canadians searching for premium content in each English and French. … Canadian piracy operators remain involved within the coding and development of infringing add-ons and Android application packages (APKs) that enable subscription piracy services and mass-market [set-top boxes] to access streaming services without authorization.
“Few resources are dedicated to prosecutions of piracy cases; prosecutors generally lack specialized training in prosecuting such offenses, and too often dismiss the file or plead the cases out, leading to weak penalties.”
So what’s being done? The IIPA believes that the RCMP is just too busy to research the situation. Local police forces even have their hands full with day-to-day policing. There have been a couple of crackdowns here and there, but nothing to actually dent the pirate market. The IIPA is demanding more federal funding to fight piracy, the creation of specialised groups to pursue illegal IPTV sites/sellers, and is encouraging Canadian officials to work along with their American counterparts.
And also you thought that Canadians were so nice and law-abiding.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with Q107 and 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.
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