Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

US VP of Everything takes on the Jolly Roger fans

It has been an interesting week in the music piracy business. The BPI (the British version of IRMA) issued a cease-and-desist notice to Google requesting them to remove links to nine hosting sites, such as Megaupload, Sendspace and Usershare, which …

Thu, Jun 24, 2010, 10:00

   

It has been an interesting week in the music piracy business. The BPI (the British version of IRMA) issued a cease-and-desist notice to Google requesting them to remove links to nine hosting sites, such as Megaupload, Sendspace and Usershare, which they claim are hosting illegal downloads. It’s a move which has been surprisingly long in the works and signals that the BPI and IRMA are not just going to stick to P2P offenders.

Then, the big guns came out on the lawn. In a classic play from the “I’m-mad-as-hell” school of acting, US vice-president Joe Biden took time out from his hectic schedule to give Jolly Roger flag-wavers a piece of his mind. “Piracy is theft, clean and simple”, said the VP Of Everything (including Wars, Environmental Disasters and Economic Failures). “It’s smash and grab, it ain’t no different than smashing a window at Tiffany’s”. Go on, imagine Sarah Palin coming out with that one.

Biden’s remarks came as the US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, Victoria Espinel, presented 33 recommendations on how the US government will help IP owners to protect their rights.

Espinel had words of comfort for those who are getting their asses kicked by online pirates: “help is on the way”. This “help” consists of such familiar ideas as encouraging ISPs to be more pro-active in stamping out online piracy and lobbying at an international level to get other governments involved in the campaign (they could have said “like we’ve done so successfully in Iraq and Afghanistan).

However, it’s hard to believe that it is really as easy as talking tough, getting the legal eagles in and making even more recommendations which may never be acted upon. Every single one of these high-level attempts to deal with online piracy, from the BPI’s move on Google to IRMA’s ongoing actions against Irish ISPs, appear designed to take us back to the situation which prevailed before the internet was on tap in every corner of the globe. Is it really possible to turn the clock back? Does the record industry think people are going to go back to buying CDs if online piracy is stamped out?

It would surely be better for all concerned to deal with the here and now and accept we’re in a brand new situation. There have been many suggestions made about how copyright holders and content creators can deal with the new realities and get paid. Of course, as is always the case, some of these suggestions are viable and others are totally unworkable. But the suggestions have been made and are there to be tested. Yet the record industry, the sector which has been the most high-profile victim in all of this, continues to rely on courtroom machinations to get its way. Sadly, it seems that the notion of trying out new ideas for size is too onerous for this beleagured industry to consider.

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