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The user is a rapidly evolving creature being defined by possibility.
opinions from the head lemur
[Posted] June 08, 2000

Piracy and the Internet

On or off the web, Piracy is a bad thing.

The Merriam WWWebster College Dictionary defines Piracy as:

  1. the unauthorized use of another's production, invention, or conception especially in infringement of a copyright

This is the definition we will use for this discussion.

I am in favor of the creators of copyrightable work in whatever format having a chance to make a living from their creative efforts. The current battles across the web with Napster and other file exchange programs point out a couple of crucial things that make up life on the web.

  • The Web is global
  • The web is about information.
  • The web is not a private sales counter
  • If it is posted on the web, it can and will be downloaded

Does every Entertainment Conglomerate CEO who gets a chance to talk about the Internet have no sense? In the past few days a number of entertainment company chief executives have been stepping up to the plate to tell the world how to run the Internet. These folks are primarily in the music and movie business.

First Up, Micheal Eisner

In a story at Andover News, Mike Eisner the big cheese at Disney said:

"People who download copyrighted material off the Internet like music and movies are criminals", Eisner said. "There's no way around it. Theft is theft, whether it's aided by a handgun or by a computer keyboard," he said.

Mike, If you want to keep your material virginal,

DO NOT PUT IT ON A WEBSITE!!

You will see this Material Again----Make a Note of it!

Mike, You need to face reality.
First
People who upload copyrighted materials are your target.
If it is video , it must be captured, reformatted into a file that a web browser can recognize, can be downloaded and played or viewed. The same thing goes for audio recordings, text, photos and anything else you can display in a browser.

The very act of viewing a web page makes every internet user a criminal under your theory.

Every Graphical Browser caches text and images on the viewers computer so that on subsequent visits to a site it will load faster. So get out your lawyers and sue Microsoft, AOL/Netscape and the Opera folks.

Also send them to every public library and confiscate every copy of your movies. Because, with this ideology you might as well go whole hog and get that pesky fair use business out of your way.

( Ask Your PR department if calling every internet user and potential customer for your products and services a criminal is a good thing.)

Second,
In the United States, Publication confers Copyright.


Third
Registration of Copyright is what allows you to go to court for Infringement and Theft.
But then, your lawyers should know this stuff.

Then it was reported that:

In a later talk with lawmakers, Eisner suggested Congress force computer companies and Internet service providers to recognize copyrighted materials by blocking users' ability to download for free while studios try to come up with anti-duplication technology.

This is so far out to lunch, your shareholders should take a serious look at Not Letting You Out In Public Without Adult Supervision.

One
Force? Your buddy Bill Gates has been found guilty of forcing. It's called Anti-Trust.

Two
You cannot hold ISP's liable for what is on their servers. Talk to your lawyers about this.

Then You said,

``The Internet can only achieve its full potential if it is governed by a regard for property rights as grounded in the United States Constitution,'' he said. If not, ``the development of the Internet will stall and we will risk undermining one of the most positive contributors to our nation's balance of payments.''

What part of GLOBAL are you having a problem with?
The Internet does not belong to the United States or any other Country.
The only Internet stalling that will take place is your lack of understanding in how to generate revenue from your website.
Take a few moments and go to one of your studios and have a computer USER play a DVD Movie on a 19'' monitor for you.

See, you don't have to worry about computers being the way to watch movies. I have over 400 VCR movies. I like watching them on a bigger screen.

It also seems to me that box office receipts are up across the board. This is one area I where I will take your word.

Mike, If you want to keep your material virginal,

DO NOT PUT IT ON A WEBSITE!!

You will never ever come up with any protection scheme that will not be broken. The folks who broke the DVD encoding were teenagers wanting to watch DVD's on a linux box.

Steven Kings E-Book made it maybe 10 days.
Were these crimes part of a vast international conspiracy to take bread out of your mouth? No, they were intellectual exercises done for the hell of it.

You need to understand the Internet is an open expanding resource. It is a collaboration tool for sharing information and ideas, hopes, fears and dreams. It currently has the appearance of a vast commercial bazaar filled with midway barkers, grifters and get rich schemes but, this too will pass.

Stick to movies Mike, you are out of your league on the web.

Next Up Edgar Bronfman, Jr.

Chairman and CEO of The Seagram Company, which also owns Universal Music & Video Distribution. This is the same person whose UMVD signed a Consent Decree with the Federal Trade Commission just three weeks prior to this speech.

Record Companies Settle FTC Charges of Restraining Competition in CD Music Market

NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation.

Edgar made this statement to the Real Conference 2000 in San Jose, California on May 26, 2000.

This speech was to rally support for his un-named website, utilizing un-realized temporarily propriatary technologies, to enable his companies to distribute video and audio content from his Universal Music & Video Distribution company.

But, like I advised Mike above, from the first peek, it is only a matter of time before any protection scheme falls to another person or persons to break just because they can.

One of the illuminating things you said was;

"The Internet does not exist, and cannot prosper in a world that is separate from our civilized society and the fundamental laws upon which it is based."

The very fact that you are reading this points out the fallacy of the first part of your remark. The internet exists without and in spite of you.

The second part of your remark regarding prosperity is also false. Witness the sites that are making money. Also check out the sites selling CD's and the rapidly appreciating market share from this segment of your retail market.

You then went on to outlining your vision of the future of the internet, which does not include anonymity or free speech.

"Technology exists that can trace every Internet download and tag every file. These tools make it possible to identify those who are using the Internet to improperly and illegally acquire music and other copyrighted information. While adhering to the principle of respect for individual privacy, we fully intend to exploit technology to protect the property which rightfully belongs to its owners."

How much will this protection cost? And will you share this draconian windfall with the artists whose work you are protecting, or will you use more accounting magic and add it to the production cost burdens that chain artists now?

Later on you said,

Let me now turn to my fifth point. We must restrict the anonymity behind which people hide to commit crimes. Anonymity must not be equated with privacy. As citizens, we have a right to privacy. We have no such right to anonymity.

Are you really serious here? The FTC Consent Decree mentioned above does not register in your mind at all? Under your theory, your company should not have been allowed this option. You should have been taken to court, have all of your records, notes and other communications brought into the daylight and either been found guilty or innocent. Who is playing the anonymity game now?

David Fielder in his Refresh Daily Column, recently commented on this very same speech and his response was,

"Anonymity does not imply stealing or criminal activity. It implies the right to blow the whistle on a corporation commiting crimes without losing your job. It implies the right to publish the truth without worrying that some company or government goon will attack you physically in your home. It implies the right to talk to other people online, perhaps baring your innermost thoughts, without fear of exposure or embarrassment."

You may have an enormous amount of economic power in the music and movie business, but on the web, you have no more power than I do. Here we are equal. This equality will ensure that your proposals for the seagrams web will never bear fruit.

George Orwell would be proud.

References

Disney CEO Derides Internet Piracy- Andover News

Record Companies Settle FTC Charges of Restraining Competition in CD Music Market

Edgar Bronfmans Remarks

David Fielder Refresh Daily

All Registered and or Trademarked Names are the property of their respective owners.

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