Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The War of the Business Model

The movie studios and the music industry's crusade against what they refer to as piracy continues, but I am very glad to say they've received a nice punch in the head by Aussie authorities.
The short end of the story is this: Some months if not a year ago, the movie studios / music industry combined together to file a lawsuit against Australia's third largest internet provider (ISP), iiNet, for allowing its users to infringe copyright laws via file sharing on bit torrents. I guess the first clue for their mischief is in going at number three: they didn't aim at number 1 (Telstra) or number 2 (Optus) because they know very well that these two giants can pay for enough legal counsel to knock them a few light years off; so they went for a small fish. And iiNet's openly expressed antagonism towards Conroy's proposed internet censorship made them a nice fine target.
But iiNet didn't cave in, and last week it won the trial: the judge decreed that copyright legislation doesn't call on anyone other than the copyright owner to defend copyrights, therefore iiNet did not do anything wrong when it let bit torrenters go on downloading. Hooray for common sense: if iiNet was to be found at fault, I would have sued the government for paving roads on which people speed and my electricity company for supplying the electricity with which people run their computers when they use bit torrent.

However, we're not in the clear yet.
The movie studios / music industry's fight to protect their existing business model still continues. What are they to do when they find that the law has them in the wrong? Well, they use their heavy back-pockets to influence our democratically elected politicians to change the law. And how do they go about doing this incredibly unpopular move? Under a shroud of secrecy, of course.
As reported by The Age here, international talks are taking place about this very subject as we speak. And if you want to know what they're discussing you're in for a disappointment; they won't let you. Who do you think you are, anyway? What right do you have in saying which laws you need to abide to? Only big money has a right to talk; you go stand in your corner. And don't let me hear a whisper coming out of your mouth!

I just can't believe how stupid the movie / music industries are. If they really think there is a problem (I'm not so sure about that: movie revenues keep on climbing, and even music revenues have been climbing lately), they can solve it in two and a half seconds by making their contents easily accessible online for free (with ads) or for a very cheap price.
I rent Blu-rays, the best quality material one can get, at two dollars a film. It's perfectly legal and at this price level I don't even dream of the download option. I also download the occasional iPhone application for $1-$2, and maybe even more when something really good is beckoning (but not much more). So why can't I access other content at similar price levels? Why do I still have to pay around $20 to download a music album at inferior quality lossy compression, and why can't I download TV or movie material at all?
Simple: They don't want me to do so because they can't be bothered to change their business model. Well, read it and weep, evil industries: You've been losing this war ever since it started, and you'll continue to lose is no matter what secret meetings you hold with our distinguished leaders. I mean, just look at the way these leaders tackle global warming: they're totally useless.
The balance of power is so heavily tilted in our direction, the consumer end, you're only prolonging your misery. Change now; it'll be good for you.

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