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File-sharing vs Intellectual Property – who will win?

January 21, 2012

SOPA Resistance Day!

Image by ~C4Chaos via Flickr

A good friend asked me tonight about the recent SOPA/PIPA battle – who will win? According to the latest news reports, many of the supporters for SOPA and PIPA are rapidly removing their support.  These two acts have proven very unpopular with too many of their constituents, with too many high technology corporations and this almost overwhelming grassroots protest caught the authors and proponents of these two bills clearly by surprise.

The Motion Picture Association of America or MPAA and the Recording Industry Association of America or RIAA have very deep pockets and a looong history of strong-arm tactics, attempting to prevent illegal copying of movies and songs. The supporters of SOPA and PIPA were heavy benefactors of ‘entertainment’ dollars. Now it appears the MPAA is going after former supporters.  The business model of both the MPAA and RIAA no longer work, they are not staying current with rapidly developing technology and it appears they are attempting to just stay relevant.  Just staying relevant is not a good thing if you are supposed to be the mouthpiece or a unifying figure for your industry, associations need to be constantly pushing the envelope on behalf of the association members (gee, where have I heard that before?), staying ahead of the technology curve and seeking to mold future conditions for both the short and long term benefits of their members.

Their beef is actually with file sharing sites because it’s already been proven that every copyright protection technical fix is broken practically the instant it’s implemented.  Going after the file-sharing sites is their best bet, the FBI‘s latest target was MegaUpload.com.  They can go after all these file-sharing sites, but then new sites will pop up.  We also saw that when it seemed PIPA and SOPA were close to blocking many of these sites, workaround solutions were already being developed.

MPAA and RIAA are saying they’re losing revenue, but sales receipts do not bear out that story, they’ve been proven wrong all too often.  So we know that MPAA and RIAA are lying to the public.  MPAA and RIAA have a heavy history of pursuing file-sharers with near ravenous enthusiasm. I recall some little old lady had a huge fine levied against her for innocently sharing one or two files…  and there are quite a few other cases. There is almost universal disdain for MPAA and RIAA in the high technology sector.  My gut feeling is SOPA and PIPA would not have the support they do if we did not see donations to Senators and Congressmen to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars – per Congressmen and Senators (especially some authors…).

When I mentioned to a good friend that I buy most of my songs for my iPod through iTunes, he thought I was crazy.  I have been lead to believe that a large percentage of students illegally download their songs and movies.  It is incredibly simple, especially using torrent files. I recall doing a search on a friend’s new book and found it in mere seconds, using a torrent search site.  Scary stuff. I shared that with him and he was not pleased, not at all.

My sister is a professional musician and has complained for years that musicians are not fairly compensated for their work.  RIAA siphons a large percentage from the musicians and she sees little pay from her work. It’s a crazy mixed up world and it’s not fair.  Not fair to anyone.

Predication: Senator Leahy has already stated he will rework the wording and release a son-of-SOPA/PIPA.  Something will eventually pass, but it will be followed by workaround solutions almost instantly.  As long as there is demand for free music and videos, there will be a way to get it for free.  There will always exist ways to prevent that, but by doing so the laws will tread on the freedoms we hold so dear. It’s a delicate balancing act.

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