Hey kids! Wondering what to do with your life? Why not consider a career in copyright law? Sure, it means selling a part of your soul to Beelzebub, but you’ll never be wanting for work, seeing as how movie studios refuse to wake up to the fact that litigation won’t stop piracy.
The latest case of film companies knee-jerk attempts to stop copyright infringement is to sue Aussie ISP iiNet. According to Asher Moses over at SMH, all the big studios are in on the action – Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox and Disney are all in on the lawsuit, plus The Seven Network (because filesharing of Sunrise is running rampant).
The argument is that iiNet infringed copyright by not stopping its users from illegally downloading copyrighted content. They apparently provided iiNet with “about 18” separate notices of the infringement and iiNet did nothing.It constantly astounds me how the studios can be prepared to spend so much time and money focussing on litigation rather than trying to really deal with the problem. In the same SMH article Chris Chard, MD of Roadshow Entertainment, said that “as broadband speeds and internet penetration increased, more and more people were turning to piracy.”
The question Chris doesn’t ask is: “why are people turning to piracy?” The answer is simple: There isn’t a decent alternative. In Australia, if you want to legally download a movie, you have two options: iTunes or BigPond. And while iTunes is relatively cheap and easy, it’s so restrictive in how you can watch it (you’re either stuck at your PC, on an iPod or iPhone, or if you own an Apple TV, you can watch it on your TV). BigPond is more expensive, the selection isn’t as good, and you have to watch it through their proprietary software which means watching it on your PC (or potentially a TV if you’re PC is directly connected to the screen). Not to mention that for most people, you need to pay for not only the purchase of the movie, but also the bandwidth as you download. Using Bittorrent is quicker, easier and (obviously) cheaper. If the networks were serious about stamping out piracy they would be making a seriously concerted effort to provide more and more legal alternatives as well as pushing for a better broadband standard for Australians.
Seriously guys – try and fight for the consumer and not against them, and you’ll suddenly find that the consumer will start respecting you and your copyright…
In any case, it will be really interesting to see how this one goes, as it will almost certainly set a precedent for copyright lawsuits against ISPs throughout the country. I really, really hope that iiNet wins – if an ISP has to start filtering copyrighted content or dedicating manpower to stop piracy, that can only mean one thing for the end user, and that’s higher fees and potentially slower broadband.