Creating Responsible Netizens

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Filesharing December 3, 2011

Filed under: dean — dean @ 9:53 pm

So as I mentioned in my previous post, the RIAA is trying to take a stand against piracy after being faced with declining music sales. Some of what they’ve tried so far is a publicity campaign likening piracy to stealing (“You wouldn’t steal from a poor paraplegic old lady on a bus, would you? BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE DOING WHEN YOU’RE DOWNLOADING MUSIC”) and suing file sharers for large sums of money.

So are these tactics working? According to a PC Magazine article from 2010, it isn’t. France had recently instigated an antipiracy law (High Authority for Copyright Protection and Dissemination of Works, or HADOPI 2) but has instead encountered a three percent increase in piracy. This is a three-strikes law where after two warnings, the third time someone is caught pirating content would result in banning the user from purchasing internet service from French ISPs.

While it may seem counterintuitive, it’s worth to note that there was a decline in P2P sharing which was being monitored. However, what ended up happening was people switching to HTTP downloads (such as Mediafire, Rapidshare, Megaupload, etc) which isn’t covered under HADOPI. The US is also considering a similar plan, based on an article from TechDirt on July 2011. However, instead of a three strikes plan like the French one, they’re considering a five strikes plan instead. What makes advocates worried is that it’s based on accusations, and if you’re accused, you need to pay to have the accusation reviewed.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has an interesting plan that I thought would be really interesting. Basically, they’re suggesting a plan where music can be freely downloaded. In exchange for a $5/month fee or something similar, they would be granted immunity by the record companies for whatever they download. This money would be distributed to artists via something like Nielson ratings where they see which artists are the most “frequently downloaded” and pay them accordingly. Since there’s so many people who pirate music online, it is conceivable that music companies would actually make more money.