Like many Americans of my generation, my first encounter with intellectual property piracy came with the band Metallica. Metallica sued Napster over its unique file-sharing program that enabled users to share music with each other through the magic of the Internet. Ultimately, Napster (in its free-for-all connotation) was shut down. Napster’s demise unleashed the forces of creativity. Services from Netflix to iTunes to Amazon and others now offers all of convenience of videos and music downloads, with none of the added burden of breaking copyright law.
According to an American Consumer Institute’s Consumer Pulse Survey, the American people are on board: 78% believe that intellectual property theft (including online piracy) hurts the American economy and 76% believe that patent protections, at least “somewhat”, encourage more innovation. IN fact, even among those under-25s (i.e. those kids probably doing the most illegal downloading), the numbers remain positive with 55% believing that IP theft harms the U.S. economy, and 69% believing patent protections are good.
With American jobs and American economic growth are on the line, American consumers need some real innovation in the fight against piracy–so innovation can safely flourish in the marketplace.
Zac Morgan currently attending George Mason University School of Law.