At first glance, my title might appear to be concerned with two separate issues, but hopefully by the time you finish reading this you will realise that the media industry and politicians in the U.S. and many other countries are trying to make this one issue. My thoughts on these issues aren’t new, but I feel it’s important to post about it, especially considering the dubious new legislation being proposed.
Wikileaks has forced politicians and the media industry, particularly in the U.S., to try and tighten their control on the use of the Internet (https://www.eff.org/coica), which is not surprising because only now (more than a decade late) are they realising that the Internet, more often than not, puts the power in the hands of the users. Wikileaks has also put the fear of God into government and big business because these institutions now realise all their corrupt and underhanded dealings could end up on the Internet for the whole world to see.
It’s high time the media industry and those they are paying bribes to, are exposed for who they really are. When I refer to the media industry, I mean the RIAA, MPAA, and all other organisations and third parties they use worldwide to supposedly enforce copyright infringement. The days of operating like a cartel and blatantly overcharging consumers are over and the practice of slicing up of the world into geographic regions where each local entity of the larger media company is free to overcharge and exploit the consumer, should also end.
If the industry weren’t so arrogant, they would realise how much money they are losing by preventing consumers from other geographical regions from being able to buy from Amazon, iTunes and other media streaming websites. One has to ask the question why the media industry doesn’t seem to understand economies of scale. A recent article on the issue: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/03/report-piracy-a-global-pricing-problem-with-only-one-solution.ars makes for interesting reading.
Instead of adjusting their business models to allow for worldwide legal digital downloads, the media industry have resorted to suing their buying audience and lobbying politicians for legislation that protects there archaic business model and greed. Furthermore, I recently heard someone from the industry blaming all their problems on piracy and lying about the true cause for their woes before Congress (so much for the oath). Refer to http://torrentfreak.com/piracy-has-all-but-dismantled-our-recorded-music-industry-110217/ to view their tirade.
When RIAA members hold press conferences, they always bring out their flagship artists who represent a small minority of their clientele. These press conferences do not paint a true picture of the manner in which the media industry treats its clients. Any other industry in the world would be investigated and heavily fined if they treated their clients in the manner in which they do. However, it is not surprising since the RIAA has paid off all the necessary people to ignore their dubious practices.
The MPAA has recently instigated a lawsuit against hotfile (hotfile.com), part of which alleges the website encourages and rewards users for uploading illegal content. The irony of this is that if MPAA members adjusted their business model and devised their own system allowing for legal worldwide digital downloading, the need for file sharing hosts would be almost non-existent. Just imagine all the dollar amounts paid to hotfile and many other file-sharing hosts going to MPAA members for an annual subscription for legal digital downloads. However, it is highly unlikely that this will ever happen given the MPAA’s greed and ignorance of digital technology.
Next on the agenda are the recent actions of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with regard to the seizure of domain names. One occurrence could well be a coincidence, but three times, most certainly not! Yes, they have seized innocent domains together with supposedly guilty ones on three occasions and now they have gone even further, seizing the domain of a person who was linking to streaming sites. Refer to: (http://act.demandprogress.org/sign/dhscomplaint/?akid=344.320406.sJSEV7&rd=1&t=2). Despite what they claim, questions need to be asked regarding the competence and motivation of the agents as is evident in the affidavit in the above-mentioned case and various TV interviews.
Who would have thought in 2011 we would be discussing U.S. government institutions violating the right to due process, accepting false and misleading information from the MPAA and others as sufficient grounds for the issuing of warrants. We usually witness this type of behaviour from so-called “rogue regimes” but it does not surprise me since most politicians have been in cahoots with big business and special interest groups since at least the 1960’s.
When the Obama administration took up office, we heard about former RIAA lawyers joining the Justice Department. We all know how it’s supposed to work with regard to what they can and can’t work on, but one can’t help but wonder, especially in light of all the recent domain seizures and the COICA legislation and other activities, what they are actually working on. Here’s an example: Joe Biden was a close Senate ally of copyright holders, and President Obama picked top copyright industry lawyers for Justice Department posts. Last year, Biden stated, “piracy is theft.” Refer to http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20043421-281.html
Therefore, to conclude, I’d like to share some advice as to what you can do about all this. If you live in the U.S., ask all your elected officials if they are receiving any money from the RIAA, MPAA or any of their members and similar organisations. If yes, then tell them you will no longer vote for them. You can also remind them that piracy is only part of the issue and that the media industry must be forced to adjust their business model to allow for legal, worldwide digital downloads of movies, music and TV episodes.
It is also critically important to tell them to support organisations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others working to defend the rights of the public in the digital world, exposing suspicious legislation, fighting for transparent debate on proposed legislation and ensuring that outdated laws are updated as soon as possible. Lastly, tell them that piracy and Wikileaks are unacceptable excuses for blatant Internet censorship. Refer them to the terrorism buzzword and the Patriot Act for a good example.