A recent High Court judgement has ordered a number of Irish internet service providers (ISPs) to block three websites hosting copyrighted content – Primewire, Watchseries and Movie4K, as a result of legal action taken by members of the Motion Picture Association (MPA). The court heard that around 1.3 million people in the Republic of Ireland could be involved in illegally streaming or downloading content, which studios and representative bodies say impacts on Exchequer revenue and job losses.
It can be argued that we have seen, or are seeing, a cultural shift, one created by a generation that has grown up viewing illegal downloading as something of a norm. In Post-TV: Piracy, Cord-Cutting and the Future of Television, Michael Strangelove argues that “hundreds of millions of people simply do not buy the argument that downloading television shows and movies is theft. This is part of a wider cultural shift that is occurring as we move into the post-television age.”
Clearly this represents a problem for the companies behind these TV shows and films, which have consistently argued that illegal downloads and piracy is theft, stealing revenue from hardworking creatives across the industry (and their coffers). On the opposite side, others might argue that they can’t afford to buy the content and therefore illegally downloading it makes no difference to the creator, that copying digital content isn’t the same as theft, or that piracy becomes a viable option when simple, paid alternatives are unavailable.
Irish downloaders don’t appear to be deterred by copyright law and stern words from the likes of the MPA or the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA). In a submission made in advance of Budget 2017, the Audiovisual Federation noted that in 2015 alone, digital piracy cost the Irish Exchequer €71 million in lost revenue and resulted in the loss of more than 500 jobs, though it’s difficult to quantify the exact impact.
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