Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Suing your customers

In this story we read about 19-year old Jhannet Sejas who recorded about 20 seconds of the Transformers movie with the video mode of a pocket camera, and was promptly arrested for video piracy.

In the comments (from another site) someone writes:

"i took out a cell phone in a theatre recently, to check the time, and put it on vibrate. a guy can down from the projection box apparently, asked to see my phone. i ask why, he says to check if it had a camera.

So. It seems that the MPAA is tearing a page from the RIAA's handbook, and throwing the baby out with the bathwater: they are pissing off the very people they depend on for survival, their customers.

The absurdity of hassling people for recording (or, in the case of our commenter, simply opening his cell phone) a movie with a pocket camera, or cell phone, cannot be overstated. Within hours of a movie being released (or in some cases, before it's even been released), a high-quality bootleg is typically available on the Internet. These are sourced from prerelease DVDs that get leaked, or are telesync recordings that are made by the video camera operator himself. What possible threat, then, is a barely-watchable, and necessarily incomplete recording made by a patron for fun?

RIAA and MPAA have apparently decided that the best way to deal with sagging record sales and movie viewership is to have their customers arrested. Yet these are the people who are actually still going to movies, and still buying music! These are fans of Hollywood, the very consumers of their product! This kind of legal action has no effect on piracy as everyone knows. Movies and CDs continue to proliferate freely around the internet.

I believe in paying for a product, even if I can get it for free, if it's a good product. I buy CDs and DVDs all the time. But when I read stuff like this, it doesn't exactly make me feel good about supporting them.

This continued hostility towards their own customers shows how shortsighted the entertainment industry is. More than eight years after Napster forever changed the way people consume music, they still aren't getting it. Where once there was an opportunity for these organizations to embrace the technology to the benefit of everyone, instead they continue to dig their own grave as the world marches on around them.

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