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BitTorrent Movies: 'My Daily Downloads Are Illegal -- For Now'

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  First Posted: 01/20/12 04:00 PM ET Updated: 01/20/12 04:50 PM ET

A Scary Text

Personally, I looked at piracy lawsuits as the kind of thing I would never experience firsthand, but recently my friend John sent me a scary text.

“I just got a letter stating that companies have complained about me transmitting copyrighted material and legal action may follow. What now?” the message read.

I had no idea what to tell him. Paramount had caught him downloading The Soloist, and if they decided to pursue him in court, he could face a massive fine. I carefully crafted a short message back to my friend: “DELETE EVERYTHING!”

It’s frightening stories like this that convinced my dad that downloading through BitTorrent is unsafe. After I taught my mom to use BitTorrent, she had been downloading TV shows. But my dad discouraged my mom from using it for fear that they might get caught and end up losing their teaching jobs. After she retired from her life as a pirate, she started using iTunes to download her shows legally for $1.99 per episode.

Way of the Future

The entertainment industry may have scared off my mom, but I still pirate every day and so do my friends. The popularity of BitTorrent is growing and I believe the entertainment industry is fighting a losing battle.

File sharing may be demonized now, but many technologies we consider harmless were also criticized at first. At the time radio was invented, most music sales were made in the form of records. Here was this invention that would make music free to anyone who owned a radio. Eventually, the record companies realized that fighting the invention was impossible, and they had to cooperate with the radio stations to find a new way to make money: ads.

I think eventually BitTorrent will follow the same path and become as familiar to Americans as TV is now. How this will work out legally is beyond me, but there’s no way that this extremely efficient file sharing method can be ignored.

Reprinted with permission. Copyright by Youth Communication/New York Center, Inc. See www.youthcomm.org for information regarding reprints of Youth Communication's copyrighted stories.

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