Letter to the editor


Dear Editor,


Downloading entertainment from the Internet has been a common act nowadays. It is known to be illicit but a substantial amount of Net users still do so despite the risk of getting caught. Recently, the government has successfully convicted a person of infringing copyright as he had used Internet technology to upload movies and allow other users to download them. Ergo, I am writing to comment on the rights and wrongs of downloading entertainment from the Internet and whether I think people will continue to break the law when they risk being prosecuted.


Downloading of entertainment from the Internet is wrongful in different ways. Legally, downloading music or films from the internet is wrong. Every piece of music or movie has its copyrights which no one should infringe. Except the online-paid ones and free offers, all entertainment should be bought through CD albums, cinemas, DVDs, etc., instead of just clicking the download button on some websites. This act is considered as violating the law and once discovered, the offender will face prosecution. Huge penalties or even imprisonment may result. It is definitely unlawful to download songs or movies from the Net.


Apart from the legitimacy matter, downloading entertainment from the Internet is also morally wrong. Clicking the download button can be so simple but the creation of those songs and movies certainly is not. All the performers, producers and related staff must have used every endeavor in order to produce the entertainment products. They have put tremendous effort and they surely deserve a return which is the money earned from those CD albums, cinemas, DVD copies and the like. Downloading entertainment without paying at all is a total disrespect to those involved in the production. If this undesirable trend of downloading entertainment from the Net continues unstoppably, those “creators” in the entertainment field will lose the incentive of making new songs or films anymore. Eventually, the once glamorous entertainment industry might even decline.


Despite the illegality and immorality of downloading entertainment from the Internet, this act can be right for certain reasons. One of them is that the prices of the entertainment products have been shooting up these days. Most music albums and DVDs, especially those of the superstars, cost hundreds of dollars, which is most likely beyond people’s affordability. Having known that those entertainment products are exaggeratingly costly, people have no choice but resort to downloading the songs and movies directly from the Net. Downloaders may not be the ones to be blamed after all.


Furthermore, downloading entertainment from the Internet can be right since the security measures of the entertainment products are overly strict, which makes them very non-user-friendly. Take CD album as an example. Owing to security and copyright reasons of the records companies, the songs in most of the CD albums in the market nowadays are in WMA format with DRM protection. This disables the songs to be converted into formats like MP3 and AAC which are compatible to most music-playing devices. With those format and protection, the music in the CD simply cannot be played with the music devices people usually use nowadays. There is almost no point at all to buy the albums since those buyers cannot listen to the songs in the simplest way they want. Thus, it sounds alright to download entertainment from the Internet as the entertainment products are just not made for music lovers’ sake from this point of view.


As mentioned, downloading entertainment from the Net without paying or any sort of permission is prohibited under the law. There is always a risk of being prosecuted for doing it. However, I think people will still continue to break the law even though they will risk getting caught. Like any other crimes such as theft and burglary, although they are known to be criminal acts, they still happen. Not to mention, the internet is a place where surveillance capability is very low. There are numerous download sites which “Net Police” does not even know of. One can easily download a song or video without anybody else noticing. Downloading entertainment from the Net without being caught is as easy as lifting a feather. This extremely low potential of being prosecuted surely cannot act as a deterrent to those who download entertainment from the Internet. Therefore, the probability that people continue doing this in spite of the risk of prosecution is very high.


There are various rights and wrongs of downloading entertainment from the Internet. Nevertheless, what really matters is what the people themselves think about this act. Education may be a way-out to all this though it might take lots of time and effort.


Yours faithfully,

Chris Wong 

Chris Wong