Disseminating culture and all of its trappings has become accelerated to the point where no sort of information is exempted from being leaked. Anything from music to film can hit the hard drive of an eager internet denizen after only the most cursory of searches.
Beginning almost a decade ago nascent file sharing servers like AudioGalaxy and Napster, which at the time were web based as opposed to functioning around a single piece of software, opened up the possibility for the world’s citizenry to share ideas and interests. Almost immediately, a slate of lawsuits necessitated augmentation of each site’s content.
“A group of 27 recording and music publishing companies led by the Recording Industry Association of America trade group filed suit against AudioGalaxy,” according to a May 29, 2002 article from the Austin American-Statesmen written by Kirk Ladenorf. The outcome of litigation not just with AudioGalaxy and Naptster, but more recently with Sweden based Pirate Bay resulted in the closure of sites and millions of users being disallowed from sharing media. Granted, a great portion of the files being shared on any of these sites were copyrighted, but a portion was not.
Brazilian author Paulo Coehlo, in contrast to record labels and various Hollywood studios, has found that making his work available for free – or “pirating his own book” – benefits sales according to an article posted on Tech Dirt by Mike Masnick in April of 2009.
Solutions, though, have been figured by some companies. After being sued during last year, Mininova has disallowed copyrighted content from distribution on its site and instead features an array of “legally licensed files” says Ed Berridge in a November 2009 article from The Inquirer. The conclusion that Miniova arrived at is obviously based upon the threat of legal action, but still points towards a very specific remedy for the problems that media companies as well as web companies face.
As technology continues to advance and it becomes easier to distribute data, new adjustments are going to be needed. The steady stream of lawsuits may be abated, but not before there’s a changing of the guard at various media conglomerates. That’s not to figure that all of their decisions are going to be detached from new and bold ideas, but adjusting to a shifting digital-world hasn’t occurred as of yet and may not too soon.
Convincing the studio system that a partnership would be beneficial, Netflix, a company devoted to DVD rentals delivered to homes via the United States Postal Service as well as streaming video, identified an underserviced market and filled a hole. The rental company saw a thirty percent increase in profits over the final quarter of 2008 according to Engadget, a website devoted to new technologies and media. The anonymity of the internet still allows for legal transgressions. And while it’s not morally right to continue on in the same manner, piracy will always exist. File sharing then makes it imperative for Hollywood to address websites like the Pirate Bay or Mininova in less confrontational manners in order to arrive at a logical and obtainable solution.
Lacking understanding of file sharing, how new technology works and what the benefits might potentially be to embracing these concepts of distribution are the only ways for the film and entertainment industries to move forward. Major motion picture studios won’t cease to exist if the digital issues aren’t addressed properly, but new generations of film enthusiasts are using their DSL connections instead of the plush seats at over priced theaters.