Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Pirates of The Internet

"This is a song Charles Manson stole from The Beatles - we're stealing it back!", said Bono introducing Helter Skelter on the Rattle and Hum album. He could not possibly have used a better phrasing for stealing and robbing, which was what Charles Manson mainly did (besides killing people).



This week a fierce debate has taken place all over the place, on the Internet and in social media as well as "old media". Many news sites have covered the topic of anti-piracy legislation contemplated by U.S. authorities in order to fight piracy on the Internet.


I'm all for the freedom to share information on the Internet. It's now obvious that the SOPA & PIPA legislation was badly thought-out. This action seems to have stemmed more support for a free Internet than was even conceivable. The blackout of Wikipedia in protest of the SOPA & PIPA bills was supported by a multiple of websites representing Internet and Technology firms. In Wired you can read more on this subject and the economics of the issue: SOPA, Internet Regulation and The Economics of Piracy. 


It's quite right that Internet pirates like the file-sharing site Megaupload are shut down. You can read about the bust in NYT: 7 Charges as F.B.I. Closes a Top File-Sharing. Kim Dotcom, a 37-year-old with dual Finnish and German citizenship, is one the founders of Megaupload. I'm not too proud of the fact that the chief villain has a registered office in my hometown. Rather infamous! And the guys behind Megaupload made tons of money by not paying for the copyright to those who own the materials shared on the Megaupload site.



Outright stealing is wrong as Bono put it so well. Personally I pay for my music as well as the books and movies I buy on the Internet, whether it's Amazon, iTunes or some other website. And quality journalism has a price tag, too. I subscribe to many news services and enjoy reading in general. I like to read well written articles and reports on local and world events, as well as phenomena like this week's black-out. That's why I paid for the linked article and related background information as part of my digital subscription of The New York Times, which incidentally I renewed today. I may have read "one or two articles" for free in The Financial Times, like the most recent piece on the lobbying campaign by technology companies on FT.com. But that's OK because FT allows its readers to read 10 articles per month for free (you pay only if you read more news than this). And sharing of these articles on the Internet and social media is OK, too.

So what's my point here. Sharing is ok. Stealing is not. Would you like the book you wrote or the music you created to be given to everyone for free? Whilst you try to make a living out of this work. Look at the guys behind Megaupload - they aren't nice guys at all. Be fair and be square - pay for your content like I do.


P.S. I just couldn't resist adding - here's how much money Megaupload made according to an article in Wired today, 23 January 2012:
Wired.co.uk
"The money was mainly routed through US-based PayPal, which is how Megaupload collected subscriptions from users looking for premium accounts. This wasn't chump change; the government claims that the Megaupload PayPal account has "received in excess of $110,000,000 (over £70 million) from subscribers and other persons associated with Mega Conspiracy." Megaupload also made money through ads, using services like Google's AdSense ( until 2007) and the AdBrite network. Both are based in the US. AdBrite alone paid at least $840,000 (£540,000) to Megaupload."