“Even the good become pirates in a world where the rules seem absurd”
(Lawrence Lessig, Remix)
I think you all know about PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) by now. In case you don’t, Wikipedia’s links will do the job. The acts’ approval has been postponed due to the widespread protests and boycotts, but the issue is far from being over. So… what do I think about online piracy?
First of all, let’s define piracy.
– Someone enters a theatre and starts recording the movie with his/her camera. Than He/she posts it online or makes DVD and sells the copies.
– Someone edits an homemade video of his/her holidays adding a legally bought Prince song (not a random reference, see the Lenz v. Universal Case) as soundtrack. Then he/she posts it online.
Well, these are very different cases. Yet, according to lawmakers and copyright supporters, these two people are both perceived as criminals.
So, firstly: the crime of piracy lacks a real definition. And before acting on penalties and consequences, I think it’s essential to define WHAT really arms
society copyright owners. Secondly: I think it’s totally wrong to apply “real world” rules and common beliefs to “virtual world”. And I’m saying this because PIPA and SOPA supporters have made a major case out of it (see here). We live in a digital era that requires new points of view about matters as copyright and intellectual property. We live in a world where technology actually ALLOWS copies. The possibility to copy is now an intrinsic feature of all texts and works of art (just to paraphrase Walter Benjamin). And here we go: the market enters the game.
A few days ago I found this article by Tim O’Reilly that explain what I think better than I’d actually do. Summing it up: piracy is the result of a market failure (“the unwillingness or inability of existing companies to provide their product at a price or in a manner that potential customers want”). Traditional companies were so busy fighting online “pirates” that they retarded the growth of new business models more suitable for the digital era. Who won? Not pirates. But new services as Amazon, iTunes, Netflix. So “The solution to piracy must be a market solution, not a government intervention, especially not one as ill-targeted as SOPA and PIPA. We already have laws that prohibit unauthorized resale of copyrighted material, and forward-looking content providers are developing products, business models, pricing, and channels that can and will eventually drive pirates out of business by making content readily available at a price consumers want to pay, and that ends up growing the market”
That’s pretty much all, folks.
And now: what do you guys think about it?