Whilst TMV wrote about the SOPA legislation last week we were barraged with comments from the Anti-SOPA camp – many of them rather anti-free speech if you consider the personal attacks and the rage associated with me presenting my opinion on the issue. Folks regardless of opinions from either side, free speech is a universal right that TMV does agree with.
However, TMV does not condone ISP’s and search engines profiting from facilitating piracy of content, whether it be intentional or not. The DCMA act was passed in1998 a long time before the current and very real scourge of file sharing on the Internet and SOPA. The DCMA legislation is out of date and not fit for purpose in today’s world. Why should just the content creating industries be one hundred percent responsible for policing content online when content creators do not control access to the Internet?
SOPA was by no means a good piece of legislation, yet the content industry has attempted for years to negotiate with both ISP’s and search engines to reach a compromise where both parties take some responsibility so a workable solution could be agreed. Despite this both ISP’s and search engines have continued to ignore collaborative calls to reach a solution. So, the content industries make a decision to push for a very one-sided piece of legislation. Labels overseas had previously stated legislation is in no one’s interest, but left with no one to negotiate with clearly, they decided on the ‘Nuclear Option’.
Private companies such as ISP’s make money from charging users for Internet access and have a direct customer relationship with file sharers. Search engines such as Google link to file-sharing sites and in some cases share profits from serving up network advertisements on these file-sharing sites. When this occurs Google generally receives 50% and the files-sharing site receives the other 50% of money made from serving up these digital advertisements.
Examine the chart below which outlines that torrent sites take up 13.5% of overall Internet bandwidth in the United States. In comparison to iTunes, which only takes up 2.7% of overall Internet bandwidth. ISPs are making money of selling this bandwidth to their customers in the United States. Is it right that they take no responsibility for their customers that use Torrent sites? That is like a business
Source: Evisional Ltd
ISPs are making money of selling this bandwidth to their customers in the United States. Is it right that they take no responsibility for their customers that use Torrent sites? That is like a business in the physical world saying we will sell the keys to the lock on your house numerous times but take no responsibility for any burglars we sell those keys to…
Source: Evisional Ltd
Reinforcing this is the fact that the picture is even worse in the European Union where Bit Torrent sites actually make up 28.4% of all Internet Bandwidth used – that’s more than double the figure in the US. Google provides millions upon millions of links to these torrent sites whilst also like ISP’s profiting from enabling content pirates.
Yes, the music business and labels generally have a lot to answer for in terms of not being transparent in payments to artists signed to their rosters and also attempting to sue individual file sharers instead of sites that facilitate file sharing. On the same note both ISPs and search engines like Google also have to take some responsibility for the fact that their customers use their businesses to carry out illegal file sharing activity.
It is clear negotiation is required on both sides of the coin; however, every party needs to be willing to negotiate. Because if one side refuses to negotiate, then legislation which is not good for either side and/or consumers is what we are left with. As previously stated for better or worse these are the actual circumstances that led to a push for SOPA by the content creating industries.
Now it is all way too easy for the anti-SOPA camp to state legislation is not the way forward. How about being constructive and providing some viable alternative solutions? Yes, SOPA was bad legislation there is no doubt about that whatsoever. However, what options did and do the content creating industries have but legislation if companies that sell the keys to enable their customers to file share content refuse to negotiate and take some responsibility? By this TMV are in no way advocating that these companies should take 100% of the responsibility, in our view it needs to be shared.
So, it will be interesting to see if any SOPA critics, TMV included, can suggest VIABLE solutions to the scourge of piracy. Let’s all be proactive here as piracy affects art and artist’s need to feed themselves and families regardless of the corporate entities that they do business with. It is all too easy and the lazy way out to say legislation is not the way without providing viable alternatives…