Arrrghhh Pirates. Let's think about piracy for a moment, as in classic piracy on the high seas, not Johnny Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean. You see in the olden days, pirates used ships to sail the high seas and then find other ships carrying valuable cargo, and commence an intricate battle that may or may not involve swashbucking swordfights. They boarded those ships and pillaged and plundered and stole the cargo. Let's be clear here, they removed the cargo, depriving the rightful owner of the cargo the rights of ownership. So chests of pieces of eight, and baubles of gemstones etc. were taken. That is piracy.
Flash forward to the days of Yahoo! instead of yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum, and we get the label piracy attached to just about anything. But in the case of the Internet, or as former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens once said, the tubes, piracy has morphed from an action that deprives ownership to one that simply deprives profit. That's a whole lot of important distinction.
You see, making a copy of something doesn't deprive ownership. The original is safe in the hands of whomever owns it. But now another replica exists. So instead of one person enjoying the use of let's say, a post card of a bottle of rum, two or more people can enjoy the same postcard. There is no loss of ownership.
But wait, you say, what about if the original owner wanted to sell that postcard. If there are all these copies that you can get for free, no one will buy the original. Well that's an interesting philosophy there. But we already know what happens when massive amounts of copies get made that are free. What happens is that more people become aware of the original and not surprisingly, want to buy it. We know this because of the lowly VHS tape. Remember those?
Jack Valenti, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) had this to say in 1992:
But now we are facing a very new and a very troubling assault on our fiscal security, on our very economic life and we are facing it from a thing called the video cassette recorder and its necessary companion called the blank tape. And it is like a great tidal wave just off the shore. This video cassette recorder and the blank tape threaten profoundly the life-sustaining protection, I guess you would call it, on which copyright owners depend, on which film people depend, on which television people depend and it is called copyright.
The threat of people using a blank VHS tape and recording copyrighted material without paying for it threatened the MPAA because they assumed that no one would pay for movie studio copies of copyrighted materials when anyone could get that material for free. But a funny thing happened. Movie studios reaped millions more of profit because they suddenly had a new distribution model, people who wanted to own copies of their favorite movies. By 2000, the top selling VHS movie was Tarzan which grossed 210 million dollars on 10.5 million units. Grossed. As in people paid to own copies of the movie, despite all those blank VHS tapes floating around.
But the historic record on VHS tapes wasn't enough for the MPAA, then it was the evils of the CD, the DVD, the computer and now of course the Internet. The music industry has fared no better, fearing the cassette tape, CD and MP3 player. And we can see how that all shook out too, after all those music sites allowed people to share music for free and Apple came along and said, hrmm, why not charge .99 cents for each song and see what will happen. By 2010 iTunes accounted for 28% of all music sales with online sales overall accounting for 40% of all music sales.
So when the MPAA and RIAA buy expensive lobbyists to get more legislation that claims that piracy on the Internet "steals" profits, they aren't being truthful. You see, without the Internet and free form distribution, they would have to pay someone, somewhere to get all that awareness or publicity and develop their own new distribution platforms. They don't exactly talk about that do they? Instead they claim that they are losing all these massive profits to "piracy." Yet they still own their content, and they still are able to sell it and record levels to new customers that they did nothing to acquire.
And then there's congress. You know, that legislative body that for all intent has been unable to come together to do anything, anything about the major issues affecting the economy. Except they practically fell over themselves in a rush to get SOPA (Stop Onine Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) passed. Without public input. Without the tech industry input. Without even understanding the difference between tubes and what the Internet is.
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian spoke with Soledad O’Brien on CNN Wednesday, about why Reddit was in blackout mode:
"If you look — last year, $94 million was spent lobbying to get this bill — to get these bills made. It’s just so frustrating because we look at Congress and we can’t see them do anything that’s important. They can’t solve the problems of unemployment, they can’t solve the problems of the deficit. Yet as soon as a lobbyist shows up with $94 million, Democrats and Republicans line up to co-sponsor it. Something is wrong.”
Something is wrong.
Motion Picture Assn. of America Chief Executive Chris Dodd, the former Senator from Connecticut, accused technology companies such as Google, Mozilla and Wikipedia of resorting to stunts. . . .
“It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and who use their services,” Dodd said in a statement. “It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today.”
Three commonly cited estimates of U.S. industry losses due to counterfeiting have been sourced to U.S. agencies, but cannot be substantiated or traced back to an underlying data source or methodology.
First, a number of industry, media, and government publications have cited an FBI estimate that U.S. businesses lose $200-$250 billion to counterfeiting on an annual basis. This estimate was contained in a 2002 FBI press release, but FBI officials told us that it has no record of source data or methodology for generating the estimate and that it cannot be corroborated.
Second, a 2002 CBP press release contained an estimate that U.S. businesses and industries lose $200 billion a year in revenue and 750,000 jobs due to counterfeits of merchandise. However, a CBP official stated that these figures are of uncertain origin, have been discredited, and are no longer used by CBP. A March 2009 CBP internal memo was circulated to inform staff not to use the figures. However, another entity within DHS continues to use them.
Tell Congress not to censor the internet NOW! – http://www.fightforthefuture.org/pipa
PROTECT-IP is a bill that has been introduced in the Senate and the House and is moving quickly through Congress. It gives the government and corporations the ability to censor the net, in the name of protecting "creativity". The law would let the government or corporations censor entire sites– they just have to convince a judge that the site is "dedicated to copyright infringement."
The government has already wrongly shut down sites without any recourse to the site owner. Under this bill, sharing a video with anything copyrighted in it, or what sites like Youtube and Twitter do, would be considered illegal behavior according to this bill.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill would cost us $47 million tax dollars a year — that's for a fix that won't work, disrupts the internet, stifles innovation, shuts out diverse voices, and censors the internet. This bill is bad for creativity and does not protect your rights.