The issue of piracy in the States has a lot of untold truths. The first one is that the main reason why piracy cannot be really stamped out is because it is popular, so popular that democratic politicians worry about fighting it. The second reason is that piracy is a boom to telcos as the main reason to get broadband, more broadband and pay more for more broadband is to download music and movies free on the internet. So piracy is huge and the result is something similar to what happens in countries who have poor tax collection systems. When there´s a lot of tax avoidance those who do pay have to pay more, when there´s a lot of piracy those who pay have to pay more. We now live in a world in which movie and record companies truly rip off those who are honest enough to pay but at the same time truly suffer from the masses who don´t. And the threat of sending potential consumers to jail is like stealing a bank and saying if you don´t give me the money I will shoot myself cause in the end angry consumers mean death to a company. What can be done to solve this mess?
One solution is the Spanish solution. Spain is one of the only countries in the world who passed legislation that makes downloading copyright material for personal use not a crime which is fine for most in Spain cause who wants to pay more money to rich Americans but what many consumers don´t realize is that this really hurts Spanish cultural production. The other solution is the American solution which is to threaten and force consumers to overpay and make the others feel like criminals. A pretty bad solution as well.
Personally what I think that is needed is a compromise and this is what I would do. First I think that legislators if they are serious about piracy should allow content companies to flag copyright material and ask telcos and cable operators, to block it. Yes, I know this sounds very Chinese but China and the States are the most brutally capitalist countries in the world (China more so) and it is not surprising that solutions end up being similar. And I would also propose that the cost flagging illegal sites be paid by the content companies. At the same time what the telcos/isps should do is aggressively market all you can eat music and movie services that are reasonably priced, say $10 per month all the music you can eat and maybe $20 for movies. So for less than the price of one CD you have all the music in the planet streamed to you whenever you want it and downloadable to your iPod. These services already exist today and are services like the new Napster, Rhapsody, Yahoo Music, Musicmatch and others. With this combination of stick (strict policing of illegal sites) but carrot (affordable plentiful music for everyone) I think that a good compromise would be worked out.
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