Retreat of the copyright Police?
A few days can make a big difference in the news. I was away from home for several days this week on a work training course (hence the lack of updates). Before leaving I wrote a piece about The BPI working with ISP’s to implement the ‘three strikes’ rule to ban sharers of copyrighted material. Since returning home I have read several news pieces that show the situation to be getting a lot more interesting.
The first interesting piece of news was that Swedish company Headweb are offering DRM free movie downloads at DVD quality for between 6 and 14 euro. After downloading the content you just burn to DVD and watch when you like. The service is limited to Sweden for trials at the moment with plans to expand to other countries. Sounds like a reasonable service, and there are several aspects that could make it popular. There is no DRM on the downloads, just a digital watermark to prevent you sharing the content online. Downloads will initially be up to 4.5Gb in size (single layer DVD) but will soon be offered in Xvid format at around 1Gb in size. And the best of all, you earn credits by sharing your download with other customers (it’s based on Bittorrent) to reduce the cost of films. Recruiting friends and writing film reviews also earn you credits.
My interest in this is due to the use of Bittorrent. At a time when many ISP’s appear to be restricting bandwidth for file sharing, Bittorrent is finding an ever increasing range of legal uses. Can ISP’s continue to block and hamper legal use of their networks?
More interesing news is that UK ISP Talk Talk has told the BPI where to poke it’s plans to kick filesharing users off the Internet. The full story is at TorrentFreak, but the basics are that after receiving an ‘unbelievably rude letter’ threatening legal action if Talk Talk do not comply within 14 days, the ISP has refused to comply and pay for the BPI’s ‘failure to adapt to the digital revolution’. I think Talk Talk CEO Charles Dunstone is spot-on in his comments, so this is worth a read.
Finally, things have changed a bit since the news of Virgin Media getting into bed with the BPI. Again from TorrentFreak, the ISP has now denied reports that it has struck a deal with the BPI. To quote the article, ‘Calling such measures “draconian”, Virgin went on to say they raise both privacy and legal issues.’
It’s becoming clear that there are two distinct movements within the media world. One is the move to modern methods of distribution and payment, the other is to cling to increasingly obsolete business models that ignore technological change. Which one will succeed? Only time will answer that, but I think the days of media empires fining and criminalising their potential customers may not last much longer.