Voltage Pictures and the movie the “Hurt Locker” have been making headlines this week after a lawsuit was filed against 5,000 John and Jane Doe defendants for illegally downloading the movie.
Whenever I see these lawsuits I have to wonder what the point is. Now I understand that downloading a movie is against the law and that when you do it you are committing a crime essentially but these people who are sued are rarely charged with crimes just civil suits. Civil suits are expensive and are a long and hard process so usually a positive end result is necessary to want to endure it. These cases in the past end in huge judgments that the defendants would never have the means to pay in a lifetime. So I have to wonder the point?!?
Even in the very best scenario, which is them winning a large monetary judgment from each defendant as well as having all their legal fees covered, how many of the people who they sue actually make that kind of money in a lifetime? So they get a big judgement but they likely see a small fraction of it ever come back and they still have very real legal fees that have to be paid. So even if they win big they actually lose.
I guess it could be said that it makes an example out of the people and will scare some people “straight” into not downloading illegal media anymore. However, that theory totally disregards the fact that people download movies and music from these sites because it’s the only place it’s available in the format that people want. There is nothing the movie or music industry can do to drive us back in droves to the movie theater or standing around the corner of a music shop all night waiting for a CD to come out. Those days are gone…these industries have chose not to keep up with what their consumers want and the best answer they have is to go to war with their customers.
Up until now the movie and music industries have given us nothing to get media the way we want it. We get tiny little teasers such as hulu.com (which I love) which offers limited choices of the last 4-5 episodes of television shows and mostly made for TV movies and documentary’s. There is iTunes which requires you are tied to apple products to use so there is no choice in that. iTunes also doesn’t let you really own your music, they own it and are nice enough to let you listen to it after paying them for it. There is Netflix.com which offers more movies and entire TV seasons but the movie industry won’t let us watch anything on there until almost 6 months after it’s initially released. So every choice we are given has a hold back to truly just being able to buy and watch what you want to when you want to and until they do that illegal downloading is going no where.
Another point to be made is these lawsuits do nothing to stop the actual distribution of movies, these movies will always be available illegally and there will always be ways you can mask yourself from ever being seen from downloading them. The more people learn about encryption and other ways to protect their privacy on the internet the harder it will become for the RIAA or the US Copyright Group to even try to figure out who is downloading what. Not to mention with the amount of computers in the world that are infected as bots someone could be using your connection right now to download a few movies and it looks like it’s coming straight from your house. Some experts claim as much as 60% of computers in the US are infected with bots. Which means that 60% of the computers can be used by other people to connect to the internet and it’s services.
So I just fail to see how the music and movie industry think investing money in a lawsuit is a better idea than investing money in the proper technology to serve us music and movies they way we want. Blockbuster.com can manage to give me a movie let me watch it for 24 hours and give it back to them…..so why can’t all these highly paid executives at the record and movie industries come together and create a system that works in the world they live in today and not the world 20 years ago they are hoping to bully us into going back to.