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July 15, 2021

US government attacks downloaders, sinks movie pirating sites

Looking to save some money at the movies?

While taking in a matinee, subscribing to Netflix and swapping DVDs among friends are all smart ways to save money on films, being frugal to the point of breaking the law is another thing altogether.

Illegal downloading seems to be commonplace these days and isn't taken very seriously, but all that may be changing.

Last week, U.S. Homeland Security agents shut down several popular websites devoted to online video streaming. While shuttering these sites will hardly make a dent in the number of sites offering the same service, it’s clear that US officials are getting serious when it comes to cracking down on pirating.

Warrants were issued for several US citizens and their associated bank accounts and the perpetrators are looking at heavy fines and even jail time if their prosecution is successful.

But not everybody is on board here. Academics such as Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig, the founder of the Creative Commons movement, argue that restricting the way people can appropriate and even rework media will actually hamper our ability to further develop our culture.

But that doesn’t necessarily provide license for those who would view the Internet as one big quarry for everyone to mine for free.

The practical issue becomes even less clear if you look at the use of BitTorrent, which is often criticized as the most common method of illegal filesharing, even though it has many legitimate uses.

BitTorrent leaves no one individual to be held accountable for the millions of files floating around in cyberspace, simply waiting to be grabbed by an individual with the correct software. But does this lack of accountability make it ok?

Let’s face it: People like free stuff. If you concede that downloading will always be with us in some way, where does it fit in your life?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...