I don’t support piracy of music; I don’t support piracy of movies. As someone who hopes to make a living one day solely from creative efforts, how can I?
Still, it distresses me to no end how stupidly the record companies and now Hollywood have gone about fighting it. If you go to a multiplex these days, you’re subjected to lobby cards and pre-movie ads admonishing you, a paying theater-goer not to commit piracy. If you didn’t know that movies were cheaply available on the internet before you saw the “piracy hurts stuntmen” ad, you did after it. Hey, great idea. Advertise to a paying audience that they could be seeing the movie for free or for a few bucks from a street vendor. Idiots.
Hollywood argues — or at least strongly implies — that technology companies could stop copyright infringement if they wanted to, but have chosen not to do so. I have often wondered whether Hollywood really believes this, or whether the claim is just a ploy to gain political advantage.
Such a ploy might be very effective if it worked. Imagine that you somehow convinced policymakers that the auto industry could make cars that operated with no energy source at all. You could then demand that the auto industry make all sorts of concessions in energy policy, and you could continue to criticize them for foot-dragging no matter how much they did.
If you were using this ploy, the dumbest thing you could do is to set up your own “Perpetual Motion Labs” to develop no-energy-source cars. Your lab would fail, of course, and its failure would demonstrate that your argument was bogus all along. You would only set up the lab if you thought that perpetual-motion cars were pretty easy to build.
Which brings us to the movie industry’s announcement, yesterday, that they will set up “MovieLabs”, a $30 million research effort to develop effective anti-copying technologies. The only sensible explanation for this move is that Hollywood really believes that there are easily-discovered anti-copying technologies that the technology industry has failed to find.
Tinker is right. Hollywood would be better spending all this money, and the lobbying money that got a bill passed that over-criminalizes camcording a movie, on a digital distribution network that is cheap, efficient and with high quality control — something the pirates will never be able to match.