While standing in line at a major electronics retailer’s technical support counter, I overheard a conversation where the customer asked what software he could download to help assist his ability to download videos from YouTube. He indicated he used to be able to download it fine but something has changed and he was wondering what he could do to restore that capability.

Without looking up, the Customer Support Rep continued to examine the hardware of a computer product and said with mild sarcasm, “First of all, it’s illegal to download off of YouTube.”

Is that true? Let’s go to a United States government source and see what they have to say.

fciwomenswrestling.com article - Wikimedia photo

fciwomenswrestling.com article – Wikimedia photo

According to usa.gov, “It is illegal to make or download unauthorized copies of software or online media, such as books, music, and videos. Whether you are casually making a few copies for friends, lending disks, distributing and/or downloading pirated software via the Internet, or buying a single software program and then installing it on many computers, you are committing a copyright infringement. It does not matter whether or not you make money doing it. If you or your company is caught copying software, you may be held liable under both civil and criminal law.

If the copyright owner brings a civil action against you, the owner can seek to stop you from using its software immediately and can request monetary damages. The copyright owner can sue for as much as $150,000 for each program copied. In addition, the government can prosecute you criminally for copyright infringement. If convicted, you can be fined up to $250,000, sentenced to jail for up to five years, or both.”

That’s good to know.

Let’s ask ourselves a question though.

Do you know anyone who is downloading from YouTube or websites that make no pretense about reproducing pirated movies or software?

fciwomenswrestling.com article - Wikimedia photo

fciwomenswrestling.com article – Wikimedia photo

If the answer is yes, here is the follow up question.

How many of those people that you know of have been prosecuted?

That’s what we thought.

The international business news site ibtimes.com weighs in on this subject as well. “Few would have predicted that more than decade after Metallica took Napster to court to fight copyright infringement, the RIAA would still be scrambling to minimize technology’s impact on its profit losses. After Napster came Limewire and Kazaa, both of which were shut down, but record companies could now have a much tougher fight on their hands with YouTube.

A Nielsen study published in August found that more young people discover new music on YouTube than by listening to the radio or by paying for music on iTunes, according to the Guardian. The problem for those companies is that YouTube is more difficult to monetize than licensing songs to the radio, and diligent music fans have figured out how to save songs free of charge from the video site.”

fciwomenswrestling.com article - Wikimedia photo

fciwomenswrestling.com article – Wikimedia photo

The debate about finding the balance between copyright infringement and freedom of expression ranges on.

Wikipedia educates, “The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was a United States bill introduced by U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) to expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement to combat online copyright infringement and online trafficking in counterfeit goods. Provisions included the requesting of court orders to bar advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with infringing websites, and search engines from linking to the websites, and court orders requiring Internet service providers to block access to the websites. The proposed law would have expanded existing criminal laws to include unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content, imposing a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Proponents of the legislation said it would protect the intellectual-property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, and was necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws, especially against foreign-owned and operated websites. Claiming flaws in present laws that do not cover foreign-owned and operated websites, and citing examples of active promotion of rogue websites by U.S. search engines, proponents asserted that stronger enforcement tools were needed.

Opponents claimed that the proposed legislation threatened free speech and innovation, and enabled law enforcement to block access to entire internet domains due to infringing content posted on a single blog or webpage. They expressed concerns that SOPA would bypass the “safe harbor” protections from liability presently afforded to websites by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Some library associations worried that the legislation’s emphasis on stronger copyright enforcement would expose libraries to prosecution. Other opponents declared that requiring search engines to delete domain names violated the First Amendment and could begin a worldwide arms race of unprecedented Internet censorship.”

Which side of this issue you feel strongly about often depends upon whether you are a consumer or a seller of goods.

fciwomenswrestling.com article -  photo

fciwomenswrestling.com article – photo

In private conversations with many current and former producers of women’s wrestling products the thoughts echoed tend to be consistent. They hate online piracy because it’s shattered their profit margins and in many cases have driven private video producers out of business. The backlash to the customer is that there is less variety in the number of products out there and that menu will most likely continue to shrink.

At times Female Competition International (FCI) writes articles promoting female wrestlers that we wish possessed more fully competitive female vs female matches on their resume but the answer comes back the same.

There is very little money in it.

It’s been reported by ibtimes.com that Google has tried to take steps to attack this problem but in some ways find themselves in a catch 22 because they are clearly benefiting from the viewership. It was reported, “The problem for Google, though, is supply and demand. YouTube-mp3.org attracted an average of 1.3 million visitors every day, and other sites have proven eager to step up. FLV2MP3.com and ListenToYouTube.com are just two of the countless new sites that have risen in popularity, although not without attracting attention from the RIAA.

“These software applications turn YouTube from a streaming site into a download site,” Cara Duckworth, a spokeswoman for the RIAA, wrote in an email to USNews.com. “There is no question that is why these applications are so popular and have been downloaded millions of times.”

Please stay tuned. At this point this appears to be a huge problem with no current effective solutions.

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Sources: nbcnews.com, news.com. cnn.com, Wikipedia, brainyquote.com, wisegeek.com, fciwomenswrestling.com, usa.gov/topics/science/communications/internet/file-sharing.shtml, ibtimes.com