January 09, 2004

Napsterization of TV and Movies From Internet Piracy?

Holland & Knight, a law firm with worldwide presence, has in their latest newsletter an article on FCC Issues Broadcast Flag Order to Protect Digital Content (by Kristen E. Fligel) about how because of fears of napsterization, the MPAA has pushed the FCC to issue the Broadcast Flag order - meant to combat internet piracy. She notes:

This isn't quite right. It is very important to note that the $3 billion per year piracy figure is actually that piracy that occurs outside of internet piracy (people selling homemade DVDs and VHS tapes on the street, for example, with movie content videoed from a movie theater). Internet piracy is actually estimated by Informa Media (a Media Industry research company) at about $92 million per year as of last year, because so few people will hang out waiting for 24-36 hours to download a movie over their thus-clogged high-speed internet connection.

Holland & Knight/Fligel may believe they are writing in an objective manner, but leaving out this information slants the story in favor of the MPAA's assertion that the Broadcast Flag was necessary in the first place, when in fact the real piracy problem is unrelated to internet downloading of movie/TV content. In fact, the MPAA's own representatives have asserted that the BF has a lot of problems.

And as far as foreign piracy, Fritz Attaway has "admitted that there were currently no recorded losses from piracy of broadcast shows." He also admitted "the broadcast flag would still be completely and utterly useless at addressing the problem. The thing leaks like a sieve." Attaway goes on to admit that existing consumer electronics and the analog airways will keep the BF from being effective.

The H&N newsletter does mention the many issues still outstanding, including the analog hole, the fair use problems for users trying to do normal things like time shifting TV shows, the analog to digital and digital to analog problem, whether existing equipment will continue to work after July, 2005 when the BF goes into effect, whether the FCC has jurisdiction to order the BF, whether the BF will motivate competition, distribution and facilitate the digital transition, but the article offers no solutions.

Posted by Mary Hodder at January 9, 2004 10:19 AM | TrackBack