Haven’t posted here in a while, and I’m really sorry… There’s so much going on… The investigation into theMassacre of innocent Iraqi civilians at Haditha, the guilty verdict against Enron execs, the Justice Department’s plan to spy on your internet usage and so much more.
However, the thing I’m really pissed at for the moment is something far less important in the scheme of things. It’s really pitiful that I could get so pissed off at this when there are so many more important things going on right now, but The Pirate Bay has been seized by Swedish officials who reportedly aren’t even sure whether or not a crime has been committed. Here in the US, the MPAA and RIAA have been pressuring Sweden to crack down on The Pirate Bay, one of the most visible torrent tracking sites. Now, keep in mind, there are NO copyrighted files hosted on that site at all. They merely provide the means for people to share their own videos, CDs, programs, etc. Of course, it’s a big grey area. In the US it’s pretty much illegal to share things you have legally bought with others. In Sweden, the copyright laws are much more liberal, so The Pirate Bay has been able to thumb its nose at the US and the monolithic entities that are the MPAA and RIAA and say, “we aren’t hosting any of your files, so tough noogies.”
That all changed yesterday when The Pirate Bay’s hosting area was invaded by some fifty Swedish law enforcement officials and they made off with the company’s servers.
The MPAA immediately released a holier-than-thou statement claiming victory and noting that, “Various rights-holders have sent countless cease-and-desist letters to The Pirate Bay, requesting that its operators remove pirated content from the site, and have been met with mockery and scorn, such as the operators posting the letters and their replies on thepiratebay.com.”
See, the thing is, the operators can’t “remove pirated content from the site” because there IS no pirated content on the site. All the site has is a list of who has a copy of that content. And the sooner the MPAA and RIAA recognize that they’ll never be able to stop peer-to-peer sharing of files, the sooner they’ll get onto coming up with new ways of generating income without worrying about the piddling amount they’re losing to people sharing songs & movies.
I have a feeling there are a LOT of file sharers like myself. I have an extensive CD collection. When I like an artist, I buy their albums — usually from the artist directly if that’s possible so they get the most amount of my purchasing money. When I love a movie, I buy it on DVD and hope there’s lots of bonus features. $20 for a DVD with a couple hours of extras is a deal in my book. When I want a particular Xbox game or PC game, I buy it.
When I “share” files, there is usually one of a very few reasons why I do it. When I don’t like an artist enough to actually buy their albums, and there’s a 99% chance I’d never pay money for their songs, I “share.” When there’s a game I’ve heard about but I’m not sure if I’ll like, or if I know for a fact I just want to try it out and will never play it for more than an hour, I “share.” When there’s a movie I want to watch but would never in a million years go to see it in the theater or spend the bucks to buy it on DVD (if I wouldn’t see it in the theater, why would I actually want to OWN it??), I “share.”
But perhaps the greatest reason I “share” is when I’ve missed some television program that I wanted to see, or if it’s the only way to get something like the second season of “Twin Peaks” which, to my knowledge, has never been officially released on DVD. I download it to watch it. The networks are finally waking up and realizing that people would like access to shows that they missed, so they’re offering streaming versions of popular shows so people can watch if they’ve missed it that week, but the quality needs to be better. Do I really want to watch a pixellated version of LOST that I’ve blown up to HDTV size from the 320×240 window that ABC allows me to stream? Nope. I’ll download the HDTV version, thank you very much. And then when I’m done watching, I delete.
I have a feeling there are a lot of people like me out there who “share” under very similar circumstances. So you see, RIAA and MPAA, you’re not losing any money from my sharing.
In fact, if you would like more of my money, I have a couple particular suggestions for the MPAA. It’s called simultaneous release. Folks like us, approaching our 40s rarely step foot in a cinema these days. It’s become the domain of the young folk… Teenagers mostly, at least in our area. They go out as a social event. The only time I go out to the theater is if I’m on a date with the wife, or if there is a movie I really want to see in the theater the moment it comes out (rare). “An Inconvenient Truth” is something I’ll want to see on opening in wide-release, but these movies are few and far between. A good unhyped disaster movie will usually get me there as well. But other than that, why not offer Pay Per View within a week of the opening? Charge almost two tickets for it if you want, but why not let me watch in the comfort of my living room a film that I probably won’t go see in the theater anyway? I’d pay $15 for that. Let the theaters get their week or two opening figures, then release it on PPV at $15 for those of us who aren’t going to the theater but will probably forget about the film by the time it’s on DVD at NetFlix or whatever? And while you’re at it, let us download it if we want for $10 or $15. Download or PPV. Take your pick. I think that would be an IMMEDIATE revenue stream that would not cut into theater ticket purchases and would certainly cover any money you’re losing to so-called “piracy.”
This grandstanding and arresting little boys and girls who had the wrong album on their grandma’s hard drive is just going to drive public opinion against your cause. It’s time you stopped the war on people and instead started re-evaluating your distribution plans. There’s money to be had, you just have to start thinking outside the box on how to get it.