Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Why legal actions and blocking access won’t stymie piracy

It hasn’t gone away, you know. Most of us thought that the debate around music piracy would have been done and dusted by 2012. Yet years after the record industry ran the original Napster out of town but never got …

Fri, Jan 27, 2012, 09:39

   

It hasn’t gone away, you know. Most of us thought that the debate around music piracy would have been done and dusted by 2012. Yet years after the record industry ran the original Napster out of town but never got around to properly plugging the gap, piracy remains something to fume about.

Already this month, we’ve seen the Megaupload takedown, huge online protests against controversial copyright enforcement bills in the United States, lots of musing here about the introduction of secondary legislation in relation to copyright law and Irish record labels lining up to sue the government.

We’ve also had Sweden’s decision to recognise the Missionary Church of Kopimism, whose most sacred tenet is a belief in peer to peer file-sharing, as a legal religion. Yes, it’s been a busy few weeks for those in the piracywatch business.

Piracy and copyright protection have become huge, contentious, multi-faceted issues. Legislative moves tend to be heavyhanded and vague, open to a wide range of interpretations depending on the legal eagles you engage and the counsel they tender. It’s not just about record labels ensuring that they get paid for U2, Coldplay and Jay-Z albums.

Writing in media and technology newsletter the Monday Note, Frédéric Filloux makes the case for piracy to be considered part of the digital ecosystem. Instead of “endless legal actions” and “legally blocking access”, it’s only the creation of “legitimate commercial alternatives” which will stymie piracy. Filloux admits this is not new, but he makes the point that such a service without a country zoning system has yet to be tried.

“Today we have entertainment products, carefully designed to fit a global audience, waiting months before becoming available on the global market. As long as this absurdity remains, piracy will flourish.”

And there’s the rub: piracy doesn’t recognise borders or boundaries or statutory instruments. Something tells me this will still be on the agenda a decade from now.

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