Tag Archives: intellectual property

Today, in doomed Government stupidity

Yep, feels pretty much like he’s got his eyes on all of us…

My position on copyright infringement and piracy is pretty clear, I think. It hurts creative industries and helps to foster a culture in which somebody’s art doesn’t have any value – if you can steal it via the internet then why would you think that the MP3 or movie file you’ve downloaded would have any financial worth?

That said, the UK government has a new, asinine idea in the fight against intellectual property theft which adequately illustrates how genuinely clueless they are about technology.

Under new proposals, if you’ve been accused by a rights holder of illegally downloading their creative works, you will have to pay £20.00 for the privilege of defending yourself.

Whilst this would be a fine way to conduct ourselves if the process of bringing somebody to court for these kinds of offences was in any way clear-cut, the nature of wireless broadband connections, unsecured routers and general I.T. ignorance means that any number of entirely innocent people could find themselves facing charges and having to pay to defend themselves purely because they lack the wherewithal to securely comport themselves on the internet.

For that reason alone, I can’t see this kind of legislation standing up in court – we would have to live in a culture where it was a legally enforceable condition of internet use that your hardware was secure and password-protected, so as to prevent such potential miscarriages of justice from occurring.  And how likely is it that your ageing ‘Silver Surfer’ relatives are going to be taken to court because they neglected to stop a grandchild from torrenting porn or the new Bruno Mars CD on their internet connection through ignorance of securing their laptop and router?

I’d love to see the government which tried to enforce that law.

Given that we live in a society where nuisance legal firms and shady right holders troll the unaware and get rich on the basis of spurious ‘pay up or be sued’ requests based on nothing more than an IP address – not the safest of identifying characteristics – I worry that this kind of thing will target exactly the wrong, tech-illiterate folks and let those savvy enough to circumvent elementary barriers to get away with merrily torrenting all the while.

Paying to defend yourself against potentially baseless allegations from cynical rip-off merchants – isn’t it great to know that you live in a country where the idea of being innocent until proven guilty is a thing of the past?

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Kevin Smith on piracy

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“I try to give away as much as possible. At SModcast.com, we’ve got thousands of hours of my best work, as well as the funniest shit you’ll ever hear: My true life’s work. And we give it away free.”

More over at Techdirt.com.

Fabulously foul-mouthed auteur Kevin Smith’s not wrong – I’m a long-time fan of Smith’s work and I’ve often found episodes of his Smodcast or “Hollywood Babble-On” podcasts far funnier than many a screen comedy that I’ve been expected to pay for (and even Smith’s own work – I couldn’t make it through the ghastly, wholly unfunny section of Cop Out when I rented it).

Hollywood’s preferred model of punishing people who pay to see movies by front-loading movie screenings with adverts, treating regular consumers as potential thieves with anti-piracy ads on DVDs and Blu-Rays and concentrating on reboots, rehashes and tv show adaptations has been biting it in the ass for quite a few years now, so its fun to see that one of its own sons actually gets the fact that changes to the Hollywood model are long overdue and might actually save it from going the same way as the recorded music industry.

The internet isn’t the enemy – it should be a partner or a vital distribution channel, but as long as Hollywood insists on  not doing the work and expecting to reap rewards for its inaction, things are only going to get worse for Big Media…

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ACTA is the new SOPA?

Now that the internet has calmed down a bit about anti-internet legislation SOPA, should we all start worrying about ACTA instead?

ACTA Demotivational Poster via Very Demotivational.com

If you’re not up to speed on your legal challenges to a free, unregulated internet, ACTA is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and purports to do as its name suggests and enforce the regulation of intellectual property rights in signatory countries.

This proposed legislation won’t be debated fully before the European Parliament until June,

but a prominent MEP has already resigned, citing behind-the-scenes manoeuvres by officials preparing the agreement for his reticence to participate in a debate which, it seems, is less of a debate and more of a signed, sealed and delivered mandate which doesn’t really resemble democracy or the practice thereof by my understanding.

Of course, one might argue that a 14-year-old kid firing up a sweet Torrent client and illicitly downloading the new Drake album or a dodgy copy of the new “Sherlock Holmes” is engaging in a form of anti-democratic activity which is ultimately far more harmful to musicians, producers, record labels, CD pressing plants, distribution companies, retailers and a myriad of inter-related interests and we should be doing something about that, but I digress…

Colours nailed to the mast, I feel that we need to allow musicians to make a living from making music.  I’m not at all certain that SOPA and ACTA do anything more than bolt the stable door long after the prize pony has made a run for it, but if they do anything, they might just set some alarm bells ringing in the heads of folks who use the internet and don’t think twice about downloading music without, y’know, paying for it or even thinking about the implications of what they’re doing.

Lots of people in the world are finding their respective economies tough to deal with and I absolutely understand that – things like entertainment are a luxury which many people have to think twice about before paying out money for, but a dubious downloaded file isn’t an answer and only ends up screwing over a singer or band who’s at the bottom of a long line of music industry people who get paid long before the artist does.

I’m damned if I know what the answer to this problem is – we have a generation of kids now who don’t view ‘owning’ a physical copy of music or a film as being at all relevant to them and I think that’s partially what terrifies the established entertainment businesses because they can’t keep marketing new media formats to a demographic who regard their product as being ephemeral and not something that they need to have access to on a long-term basis.  If you get your tunes online, via a phone handset, why do you need to have shelves of CD’s which you might rip once to a hard drive and then never look at again?

So, if I’m reading this correctly, the whole problem with copyright is a generational one and as long as that divide exists, there’s no good solution to it beyond some entrepeneur coming up with a service which gives the kids what they want, gets the suits their cut and somehow doesn’t screw over the creative types either?

Good luck sorting out that problem…

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