Copyright laws are in place to ensure the goods and service motion which is in place with physical items is replicated in a digital medium. The restrictions on downloading pirated/ripped movies and music are in the form of severe penalties and the possibility of a less than acceptable level of quality.
We have access to a plethora of media, where pirating is the popular route as a result of us simply not wanting to pay for music/movies if they exist free of charge.
I personally have encountered several websites which provide this type of service; the fuss around Megavideo’s founder Kim Schmitz ‘s arrest re-introduced discussion concerning the dent in the movie industry that movie pirating had created. The rationale is justifiable; there are box office movies which do not suffer but when lesser known indie films and independent productions do not reap the rewards of their labor there is less of an inclination to continue the craft (which in turn bottlenecks the variety in competition).
Cory Doctrow’s post in the Guardian denotes the reason for this gate keeping behaviour as an effort to ensure the best quality of audio and visual content can be accessed through a simple online purchase. This is valid; perhaps the criminalization of users who pirate media is not the best course of action, though. As I only have scope enough to warrant a one sided opinion, I’m sure if (in a glorious utopia) we endeavored to find a reasonable solution between the media houses/gatekeepers and pirates/consumers, we would be able to settle a middle ground where no-one is left out of pocket.
This obvious issue and tension has been lessened slightly with the existence of Netflix and the spotify (along their equivalent media) ; streaming movies and music for a small monthly fee to the artists is pretty nifty and a service I take advantage of. But what of the money that doesn’t reach artists? When the $20 upgrade goes around the artist and into the conglomerate’s pockets; these small and unseen betrayals make me think twice about paying for media I consume daily.