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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Streaming websites present free, ethical dilemmas

 
 

When popularized shows such as “Breaking Bad” or “The Walking Dead” are not airing, crowds are still finding ways to watch. When music isn’t blaring on the radio, people listen elsewhere.
Live streaming is creeping onto computers all across the world, pumping out TV and tunes for the hungry consumer by legal and illegal means alike.
The original issue was piracy – downloading videos for free onto one’s personal computer, which constitutes as copyright infringement. But now, the trend of free streaming has come under scrutiny – if downloading a copy of others work is illegal and, to some, unethical, what’s the case for
free streaming?
Streaming has become one of the simplest ways for people to watch television and movies because it is literally at the click of a button. Sites such as Netflix and Hulu offer thousands of options for instant streaming, but do not always offer the most current seasons or the more obscure shows, leaving impatient viewers to search in other places.
Matthew Velasquez, sophomore education major at Blinn, said he regularly streams videos online.
“I stream stuff all the time,” Velasquez said. “There are plenty of the safe, available sites to stream movies and TV shows from, but they have a small variety to
select from.”
By streaming content without paying, a person is skirting the copyright rules applied to illegal downloads. In early August, President Obama and the U.S. Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force started looking into prosecuting streaming as a felony instead of a misdemeanor, saying it is equivalent to criminal reproduction and distribution.
Though Velasquez said streaming is more unethical than not, it does not stop him from
engaging in it.
“I currently stream everything that interests me because I have no TV,” Velasquez said. “But when streaming is at its highest with me, it is because there is a TV show I’m obsessed over and want to watch it as soon as it premiers.”
Austin Ash, senior environmental design major, said he approves of legitimate and secure sites, but finds the use of what he called “sketchier” websites often unethical.
“It depends on the website you use from,” Ash said. “When I studied abroad in Italy, we would stream the Aggie football games and that is a live stream.”
Mitch Roberts, senior anthropology major, frequents sites on the Internet to stream TV shows and films periodically, and said the current copyright legislation does not allow consumers enough liberty inside the law.
“I feel that the hold that entertainment places on their copyrights does not give the consumer enough freedom to access things without an extra charge,” Roberts said. “Netflix and other sites don’t allow full access to archives unless you pay more, and in some instances they will cut parts from shows to give incentive to pay more. In order to see the more obscure titles, I’d have to stream them or hope the library or school media center carries them.”
Jacob Dees, senior kinesiology major, said he found the idea of punishing individuals for streaming music and television “ridiculous,” as musician’s tours or television commercials would provide adequate monetary compensation for media.
Roberts said the moral standing of streaming is unclear. Though he said the “swollen pockets” of the entertainment industry won’t be impacted by the streaming of individual users, he still said it is unethical to access someone else’s work without compensation.
Regardless of any ethical dilemma, Roberts said almost everyone seems to be streaming shows and music.
“If the content is already out there for people to have, someone is already bound to be doing it,” he said. “While that plays to the clich? of ‘everybody’s doing it,’ it happens to be a real factor.”

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