Copyright, Piracy and the 407

The latest hot topic is online piracy and the internet.  To start with let's just get it out there.  Piracy, aka stealing is wrong.  Copyright infringement, and theft are illegal, and there are laws on the books to deal with it.  So the question becomes, is there something special about theft on the internet, and should we put in place new laws to address it.

In the physical world, we had a similar situation with the 407 electronics toll road.  Here we had theft, people driving the highway, but refusing to pay the bills or hiding their license plate so the system could not record their use of the highway.  So, we have ways of addressing and punishing theft, but for the 407 they created a new system.  The 407 was capable of essentially putting a lien on the car, and the owner would not be able to renew their ownership which was required every 1 to 2 years.  This would seem reasonable, except for the fact that the 407 made so many billing mistakes.  They charged the wrong car, sent invoices to wrong addresses, failed to record payments, and as a result many innocent people were caught up in the system, and could not renew their ownership.  Essentially they were not permitted to drive their cars.  Eventually the 407 was told that they would no longer be able to prevent owners from renewing their licenses.

Large content holders are looking for similar actions to be taken with the internet.  They are looking to ban people from accessing the internet (3 strikes laws), they are looking to takes sites off the internet (DNS redirect in SOPA and PIPA), and they seek to do this without court oversight.  They would like to be the sole determiner of copyright infringement.  It is a lot of power, and if history teaches us anything, with power comes corruption.

We all know Napster was a problem, they are now history.  Content companies should be seeking legal action against infingers, and punishments should be reasonable (A million dollar settlement agains a single person for sharing 24 songs is not reasonable).

If content companies were suffering large losses, there may be cause for concern.  However their does not seem to be any evidence of that, in 2009 Hollywood had the biggest box office take in history, while the rest of the economy was getting trashed.  So again, piracy needs to be dealt with but the content companies do not need a "nuclear option".

Content creators have been in fear of every new technology, and their fears have never come true.  I guess it could happen this time, but I doubt it.  Have a read of this article. And hey, the industry has been caught infringing copyright.  They were republishing music on mix CDs and not paying the artists.  They settled for $50 million without admitting any wrong doing.