The low-down on illegal downloads

Two weeks ago, a 20-minute documentary on YouTube went viral. In the YouTube world, a video of that length with 1.4 million views in just two days is not an average rating.

The video documents Kim Dotcom, founder of Mega Upload, who is now under house arrest in New Zealand for his alleged piracy website.

Illegal downloading and uploading has been an ongoing issue globally for more than 15 years. The issue is closer to a resolution that involved legal action against those involved. Based on an informal survey taken of students in Ottawa, most students are illegally downloading and believe it should be legal.

“It doesn’t seem like something that I could get sued for,” said University of Ottawa second year student, Neil Hash.

In Canada, there is a business called Canipre based out of Montreal that dedicates itself to suing companies and people for uploading illegal content. Their clients are mainly production companies. Most people don’t even realize that they are illegally uploading after they have downloaded an item and left it active on their torrent program. That is what they call “seeding.” One TV download can have tens of thousands of seeders on a popular show. Those seeders can be sued.

In 2012, Bill C-11 was passed to protect Canadians from being sued for more than $20,000. This makes it not as worthwhile for companies to sue, whereas in the US, there is no dollar limitation and illegal uploaders can be sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Glue’s informal survey found that 95 per cent of students in Ottawa are downloading illegally from the Internet. Of that, it was mainly music and TV shows.

Dotcom has stated that content on the Internet should be free. He believes that it will hurt the creative industry and governments are “undermining our rights, destroying freedom and censoring the Internet.”

As Dotcom’s trial is underway, student will continue torrent music and videos and discuss questions of personal privacy.

The Mega Upload website even features a quote from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home, or correspondence. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference.”