Piracy, in strictest sense of the term, is defined as “copyright violation”. It is strictly the realm of law to define the various provisions and it’s literal meaning. The purpose of this post is not to go in the legalese but to define the reason behind this “growing phenomenon”: Broadband.
I remember the days of pathetic 56 kbps access on the telephone modem. The dial up access was atrociously expensive, the lines faced frequent disconnections and the overall experience was laced with frustrations. I writhed my hands in despair when I heard about Napster allowing unrestricted exchange of music residing on the hard drives. While I don’t condone this (for legal reasons) but it allowed unrestricted exchange of music one never knew ever existed! Napster died a horrible death due to unrelenting legal challenges by MPAA.
MPAA is a quasi union to protect the interests of the content creators. US has been a test bed of the way this contentious issue has evolved over the years. The MPAA has garnered a lot of bad press from the people who fuel the peer to peer networks. There has been a dissent generated from the ISP’s who claim that this kind of traffic chokes their network and cite FUD campaigns to announce the imminent breakdown of Internet; that the bandwidth would soon run out with the kind of content that is being shared.
In the Web 2.0 arena, interestingly, none of the players are making serious money but follow the basic “Christy” method of “harvesting of souls“. Content is created to dumb down the masses in name of entertainment and people hooked on to the “opium of masses” (based on the loose misrepresentation of Marx). Frankly, content creation involves mega budgets and creators look for perpetual “evergreening” of “copyright” in order to milk whatever is worth it.
In this scenario, it is a double pronged attack on the people who share something that is inaccessible or content that has been blocked because of complex copyright issues. For example, a movie having a theatrical release in US quickly goes through it’s DVD sales and then released “worldwide”. Peer to peer networks (Torrents or it’s variants) has changed the game altogether. The moment a DVD is released, it is “ripped” and uploaded for all. The “seeders” abound for the “leechers” and the cycle continues.
The speeds are an issue worldwide. Primarily, the governments have encouraged faster speeds by tax breaks and other incentives to promote digital lifestyles and the positive spinoffs from that. Asian countries like Singapore, South Korea and Japan have lead the way. Recently, Australia announced it”s grand plan to push rural broadband impetus. US has had an acrimonious debate about the role of FCC (their version of TRAI) and the paltry definition of broadband access at 256kbps. Despite the intensive lobbying, nothing really has come out of it.
Piracy has kept pace with the “increasing” speeds so as to say. Legislation has not kept pace with the attempts to thwart this growth. Europe has seen some activity which led to confiscation of Pirate Bay servers and as a result the public rose in revolt against this “misstep” and formed a “Pirate party”. Interestingly, it even managed to win at the hustings and got a seat in the parliament.
I feel that “rooting” out the piracy is impossible. If Governments find means to thwart Internet access or even “slow down speeds”, there are people to bypass these issues in the name of unfettered access.
I don’t endorse piracy in the present form (to be on the right side of law) but there is an inherent need for people to share. This basic impulse cannot be wished away for times to come.
Broadband is going to change the equations in the way we connect. I don’t have any teary eyed dreams of a “global connected village” though but it’s a good feeling that resources can be shared by one and all.