Just when you think that the self-appointed copyright Gestapo can’t sink any lower they kick the old limbo stick down another notch. Now before you jump to the conclusion that I’m one of those “content wants to be free” activists, rest assured that I am not. All of my career has been spent as a code monkey writing software for somebody else (as a “work made for hire” in copyright lingo). And trust me, I’m all about getting paid. Which doesn’t happen if my employer goes broke because their products were pirated. I’m also a musician who composes and records original material. Now my attitude towards copyright protection is quite a bit different with my music because, as Cory Doctorow says in the forward material to his latest book Makers [you can download the e-book here for free] my problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity. But what about that piracy notion? I just said that I won’t get paid if my employer goes broke because their products were pirated. Well guess what? That has never happened. Not to me. Not to anyone. In short, I’m not opposed to copyright or copyright enforcement.
What I am opposed to, and baffled by, is a business model that comes down to “we aren’t selling as much of our stuff as we want, so we will go after people who are pirating it.” The most recent episode in this ridiculous jihad against customers is reported by Cory Doctorow in boingboing.
The MPAA has successfully shut down an entire town’s municipal WiFi because a single user was found to be downloading a copyrighted movie. Rather than being embarrassed by this gross example of collective punishment (a practice outlawed in the Geneva conventions) against Coshocton, OH, the MPAA’s spokeslizard took the opportunity to cry poor (even though the studios are bringing in record box-office and aftermarket receipts).
That’s right, the entire public WiFi net of Coshocton, OH. The same net that is used by Coshocton County Sheriff’s deputies to complete a traffic or incident report without leaving their vehicle. The same net that out-of-town business people can park and use their laptops to make connections. The very same net that during festival times, vendors use to check the status of credit cards being used to make purchases. And the same net that has a single address used by many people, so it’s difficult to tell who made the illegal download (although the county plans to investigate the matter).
Great job MPAA! Way to look out for your own financial interests in blatant disregard for the interests of everyone else. So what exactly have the MPAA clowns (I love Cory’s reference to the MPAA’s spokeslizard) accomplished here. Several things come to mind:
- Users of Coshocton public WiFi will likely never download another pirated movie again… without going through TOR.
- Users of Coshocton public WiFi will likely never purchase any movie ever again.
As I said before, I’m not a fan of pirating movies. Quite frankly there is so much stuff legitimately available for free or incredibly cheap that I can’t begin to consume everything I might be interested in. But in addition, I can’t for the life of me see how alienating your customers because somebody downloaded a movie and allegedly deprived you of $10 or less (assuming of course that the perp would have actually paid for it anyway) makes any sense at all. What I can say is that cheesy stunts like this almost make me want to fire up bit torrent and snag some episodes of Desperate Housewives. Just on principle. That and I’ve never seen Desperate Housewives. But I can get it from Netflix way easier. And I don’t have to use TOR. But believe me, I’m not going to purchase any movie or TV show. Not now. Not ever.