Friday, January 20, 2012

MPAA and RIAA can't see the wood for the trees

The website MegaUpload has been yanked from the fabric of cyberspace and its owners have been arrested on a raft of charges, including copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering.

How coincidental that this all happens at a time when the MPAA, RIAA and other "parties" are pushing so hard to have the SOPA and PIPA bills passed into law.

It's almost an "I told you so" move on their part -- isn't it?

Spokespersons for the MPAA and RIAA claim that MegaUpload was making around US$175 million per year from this site, while costing their members around $500m in lost revenues.

Hmmm... a stupid person would probably say "oh dear, how terrible!"

A smart person would probably say "clearly, given the financial success of MegaUpload, the MPAA/RIAA are simply pricing themselves out of the market".

Obviously, since MegaUpload's subscription revenues were significant, it's clear that people are willing to pay for the material they were accessing there. Given that, it's not so much about downloading stuff for free as it is about getting value for your money.

If the RIAA/MPAA really wanted to kill MegaUpload -- and any others that might seek to take their place, all they have to do is simply sell their members' products at a price the market finds acceptable -- rather than a price the studio execs would rather charge.

Obviously the studios presently have a huge disconnect from their consumers. They don't realise that digital technology and the internet have changed forever the premiums that could be charged for movies and music. No amount of legislation will change this.

The sooner the studios and publishers wake up to the fact that subscription is the revenue stream of the future the better for all concerned.

I suspect they will eventually wise-up, just as they eventually wised-up to the wonders of selling product via legal downloads.

But don't hold your breath -- they're not the sharpest knives in the drawer -- as the events of today clearly showed.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Is the media suppressing SOPA reports?

SOPA is a nasty piece of legislation designed to empower the US government and those who support it in a way that could see any website or service struck from the face of the internet by little more than an accusation of copyright infringement.

Details of what SOPA proposes and how "the powers that be" plan to implement it are widespread on the Net so I won't repeat them here but I strongly recommend that readers do familiarize themselves with the subject -- it may be rather eye-opening.

So just why is it that such an important piece of legislation that potentially constitutes a major constraint on the freedom of online speech has not been widely reported by the mainstream media?

In fact, if you search the mainstream news sources such as ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox and the like, you'll find very little coverage of this proposed legislation, despite the fact that it is the kind of "big government" that many such news services love to sensationalize.

The answer can be found in the list of corporations and companies which are actively sponsoring and supporting the SOPA bill -- here are just a few:

  • News Corporation (also own Fox News)

  • CBS

  • Comcast/NBC Universal (owners of NBC and MSNBC)

  • Time Warner (owns CNN)

  • Disney Publishing Worldwide, Inc. (owns ABC News)

My oh my, isn't that revealing?

It seems that editorial independence for our major news broadcasters and publishers may be in very short supply when it comes to this proposed draconian law. Their sponsorship of the SOPA bill would appear to be significantly compromising their willingness to alert the public to its presence and its effect. Because these corporations deal in the kind of copyrighted material that SOPA protects, they are naturally very keen for it to be passed into law and that means they do not want the public alerted to the darker side of this draconian legislation.

We can only hope that, through blogs, social networking and other more direct routes, the public of the USA (and the world at large) are educated as to exactly what's being proposed here and what the repercussions to free speech may well be.

I urge you to do your best to spread word of SOPA and its nasty "presumption of guilt" premise to all your friends, families and associates.

If we don't educate "the great unwashed", the first thing they know about SOPA may be when their favorite websites start disappearing without trace for no apparent reason.