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Why It's Wrong

Created on 25/10/2008

Certain things seem so obvious to me that I feel there should be no need to write them in a blog or article. But then something comes along that shakes the foundations of your beliefs.

I am, as some of you already know, a writer and a filmmaker, I am also an occasional media academic. Clearly that gives me a vested interest in the well-being of those sectors. You would think the same would apply to others similarly laboring in these creative areas. Apparently we would all be wrong.

Whilst discussing some recent movies over lunch last week one of my colleagues calmly announced that he burned downloads on the net onto his blank DVD’s. He made it plain, in case I’d not understood him that these were unlicensed copies that he had not paid for. I asked him to think about this for a moment and he laughed, “What, you care for the fat cats that run those hugely rich foreign corporations, why should we care about any of them?”

I was staggered by his attitude, and I imagine it showed on my face. He smiled again, less cocky this time as I responded, “What about the several hundred thousand British people who earn their living in the production of media?” I asked him, “What do you want to say to them when they lose their jobs because people like you are stealing their livelihood.” He now colored in embarrassment, and he said, “I’d never thought about that really.”

If there were no British creative industries the actual amount lost to our Treasury would be something in the region of 10% of this country’s Gross Domestic Product and it employs more than 600,000 people. This is not an argument about semantics, this industry is far more important than car production, steel, coal and several other industrial sectors added together.

Think about it, this lecturer is a man who teaches young impressionable people about media and he didn’t realize there was anything morally or economically wrong with pirating other people’s work.

Surely this is a perfect example of what teaching without context can bring.

During the same discussion it also became apparent that most of the media teachers around the table are also not paying their TV license fee. They dressed this up as a form of Robin Hood like act of defiance against authority, when the truth is that they are simply trying to defend the indefensible.

You cannot opt out of laws you don’t like. The option we all have is seek to change such laws, or vote for people with similar views to your own. It is totally unacceptable for our teachers to preach general anarchy like this because it is both immature and dangerous.

We are left to shake our heads and ask how our students will learn to understand the difference between right and wrong with teachers like these?

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