What else is going on in Greece these days? Did you guess: a major crackdown on Greek file sharing sites?
On this subject, I’m very pleased to publish a guest essay by Dr. Petros Petridis of Panteio University in Athens.
File Sharing and the Greek Crisis
petros.petridis at gmail.com
According to the major copyright industry groups, Greece has among the highest rates of “piracy” in the European Union. The Business Software Alliance recently put this number at 61% of the software market—exceeded only by Romania and Bulgaria. The IFPI listed Greece in its top ten ‘priority countries’ for music piracy in 2006. The US Trade Representative’s office has kept Greece on its “Watchlist” of badly behaving countries since 2008.
It is easy to see file sharing through the lens of the larger Greek crisis—as part of the wider breakdown and circumvention of formal institutions. But the file sharing story in Greece is both simpler and more complicated than that.
Muchas gracias a nuestros dos traductores, Clio Bugel y Guillermo Sabanes de la Asociación para el Progreso de las Comunicaciones. Y a Geraldine Juárez por el apoyo editorial excelente.
La piratería de medios ha sido llamada un “flagelo mundial”, “plaga internacional” y “nirvana para delincuentes”, aunque la mejor descripción tal vez sea la de un problema de fijación de precios. Los altos precios de los productos de medios, los bajos ingresos y el bajo costo de las
tecnologías digitales son los principales ingredientes de la piratería de medios en el mundo. Si la piratería está presente en casi todas partes es porque también están presentes esas condiciones.
With the takedown of Library.nu (formerly Gigapedia), the major US and UK publishers are joining the war on file sharing. This is a subject we’ll be paying a lot of attention to in the next couple years. Coincidentally, I gave a talk more or less on this issue at the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference on Tuesday.
I’ll say this for jury duty in New York City: they’ve added WiFi in the waiting rooms! Given how much time prospective jurors sit around waiting, it’s a major improvement.
And surfing around, one quickly discovers that the local network blocks certain websites. With some cursory exploration, it’s clear that this is a very arbitrary list that encompasses many legitimate sites. It blocks game sites but also game news sites. P2P sites but also news sites that cover P2P and digital rights issues. Porn sites but also sites like 4chan, that, ok, host a lot of porn but also a lot of legitimate speech. There’s a mysterious BLKLST category which blocks–on my cursory surfing–an Apple news site. Bandwidth management you say? It doesn’t block Hulu, Netflix, or YouTube.
Frederic Martel’s Mainstream (2010) is a very rich account of Hollywood’s (and America’s) global cultural dominance, based on a huge quantity of original research and reporting. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been translated into English (from French–it should be!).
Among many other things, Martel provides interesting detail on the global lobbying and enforcement practices of Hollywood–a subject we treat in our Media Piracy report. You get a clear sense from Martel just how good these guys have been at their jobs, mixing product and politics, working the domestic and international angles simultaneously, and always cultivating the powerful. Chris Dodd’s public threats, post SOPA, reflect how unusual it is for them to lose. Here’s Martel on the history of MPAA lobbying in Brazil and Mexico, cobbled together from pp 28-32. Translation mine. MPA, btw, is what the MPAA calls itself outside the US.
In Brazil, the MPA’s top guy is Steve Solot. From Rio de Janeiro, he coordinates the studios’ business across Latin America. Solot explains: “For the MPAA, South America doesn’t count in terms of box-office, but it’s more and more important in terms of influence and number of tickets sold. American films take over 80% of Brazilian box office receipts. And even for the remaining 20%, you have to remember that many Brazilian films are co-produced with the Americans. Overall, it’s over 85%.” …
Now that we’re post SOPA/PIPA (for now), it’s important to develop a larger framework for how intellectual property law can best serve the public ends of maximizing innovation and enriching our common culture. Last August, we helped organize a Global Congress to do just that. The result was the “Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest.”
What’s in it? A lot of it is pretty obvious stuff, such as: policymaking shouldn’t be secret! And, take evidentiary standards seriously! Some of it is fairly technical, such as defending the first sale principle across borders to facilitate parallel importation. Not all of it is completely settled or specified–150 people contributed to this and we tried to do justice to their disagreements as well as agreements. The point is, it’s a very good place to start a larger conversation about how to make intellectual property law serve public ends–in both national and international law. If that matters to you, please give it a read and consider signing!
In support of The Tree of Life‘s Oscar campaign, and in an effort to explain the broader rent seeking practices behind SOPA/PIPA , and in recognition of all the new visitors to the site because of Meganomics, and finally in the hope that we can collectively beat back the the threat of a publicly-subsidized Warhorse sequel…
We are re-releasing the underappreciated The War Between the States (to Subsidize Hollywood) Tetralogy, featuring:
As last week’s arrest of Megaupload owner Kim Dotcom emphasized, the main character in the SOPA/PIPA debate is the foreign thief. He’s everywhere—robbing Americans of their creativity, jobs, and money. Worse, he’s enjoying himself. As the Chamber of Commerce put it: “The criminals behind these sites are laughing all the way to the bank, stealing the best of American creativity and innovation at the expense of our jobs and consumers.”
The LiMux project–Linux in Munich–is approaching the finish line. LiMux was the largest municipal open-source adoption project in the world when it began in 2003, and was widely viewed as a test case for public-sector adoption. But the path proved difficult–the original 5-year transition became 8 (and counting). Now, some 9000 of the city’s 12-15,000 desktops run Linux, with the remainder scheduled for migration in 2012. Continue reading →
For the MPEE completists out there, the long-awaited “The Making of MPEE” (aka, “Transnational Piracy Research in Practice: A Roundtable Interview with Joe Karaganis, John Cross, Olga Sezneva and Ravi Sundaram” [Lobato and Thomas]) is now available for download. Here’s a sample:
JK: I’d argue that there’s a loose disciplinary story to map onto the last decade of work in this area. The late 1990s and early 2000s were a period of rapid discovery and exploration of the wider significance of IP issues within the legal field, epitomized by the work of Lawrence Lessig, Yochai Benkler, Pamela Samuelson, James Boyle, Peter Jaszi and many others. The lawyers were the first to appreciate the regulatory challenges of digitization and the Internet. This engagement was primarily US-centered, synthetic or case-study driven with regard to methods, and—I would argue—grounded in a positivist legal project that prioritized the task of refining law and legal categories. Creative Commons is the best example of this perspective or disciplinary project. Continue reading →