The case of the content owners vs. the file-sharing software companies is all over the news. Given that I make my livelihood as a publisher, you might be surprised to hear that I’m pulling for Grokster on this one…
I’m a big believer in technology and innovations resulting from new technologies. I think it would be a huge mistake to create unnecessary barriers that might prevent the next giant leap forward in content distribution. By the way, it’s interesting to see Sony on the content side of the table, fighting against innovative distribution technologies – weren’t they on the opposite side in the ‘80’s, claiming that their VCR’s didn’t infringe on copyrights?
Although I’m not a gun advocate, I agree with the old saying that “guns don’t kill …people kill.” The same logic applies to this debate: Software companies don’t steal intellectual property…people steal intellectual property.
It’s one thing to install a file-sharing program on your computer. It’s another thing when you elect to use that software to cross the line and illegally share copyrighted material. Yes, I realize that most of the download and file exchange activity going on these days involves copyrighted material. If you’re downloading or exchanging copyrighted material without permission you’re breaking the law, period. Don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for you. Anyone doing this is as guilty as the guy that robs the local liquor store.
So how do we fix the current problem? To start off with, let the software companies create their programs. They’re not the problem. Secondly, the content companies need to continue prosecuting anyone they find illegally redistributing their content. They need to be more visible with their efforts, though. People aren’t going to stop doing this until they feel there’s a high likelihood they’ll get caught and fined.
How about reversing the power of the peer-to-peer networks? When one person gets busted for illegal downloads, offer them reduced fines for ratting out other thieves, anonymously, of course. Publicize this program so that the cheaters don’t know whether they’ll get caught by the authorities or turned in by their friends.
Where do you stand on this issue?