This story has shades of the 2600 fiasco as well as shades of 1984.
Over the past few days, there has been quite a hissy fit over this:
09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0
That is apparently the “key” to unlock new HD DVDs. Well, it was. The Trademark Blog reports that it is now obsolete.
Anyhow, this series of numbers and letters wound up on some sites linked to by Digg, and as Marci Hamilton knows (she’s the professor that wrote this garbage I lambasted a few weeks ago), linking to anything that could help infringe copyright is killing babies, helping Al Quaeda, and making us all unsafe, just like lite-brites in Boston. (Caveat, I usually agree with Prof. Hamilton, and I think she has some great theories. On balance, I am a Hamilton fan. Nevertheless, she was off the deep end on that one. Eh, we all go there sometimes, but I get very hostile toward linking causes with the scare the crap out of everyone and shriek “terrorism” or “protect the children” arguments).
Therefore, cease and desist letters followed. Digg deleted the tags. I understand why. A rebellion broke out. Digg raised the Pirate Flag and off we go to see just how corrupt the judicial system might be, once this becomes a legal case. Hopefully the abortion of the DMCA will finally be upended.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I’m firmly within the camp that believes that we must read both halves of the copyright clause – and when “promoting progress” will not be served, copyright law should deactivate.
I must confess, I am on the side of the Pirates.
Then we must consider the argument “but if there is no profit to be made, or profits aren’t big enough, then there won’t be any more movies.” While considering my response to that, I looked in my thesaurus to find a word that wouldn’t be considered “immoral or scandalous” by the USPTO. I think I’ll go with bull-pucky. (Definition 1, not Definition 2)
Piracy might actually be a good thing.
Aw, hear me out – actually, I don’t even believe I’m expressing much of an original theory here, so please clue me in if anyone has written this in a more articulate manner:
Piracy does sap profits. Excessive piracy will cause the film industry to adapt in a way that *they* say is negative. For example, no way, no how, that Titanic would be made again. I say “Thank God.” Or, more to the point, thank Darwin. Why? Because it is just like evolution of the species — sometimes a parasite comes along and wipes out a species, clearing the way for something that is more adapted to its environment. Yes, excessive piracy will save us from ever having another load of steaming fecal matter like Waterworld or Titanic or most of the crap that Spielberg deposits on our cultural landscape.
On the other hand, smaller “sundance” style films can still be made with a low budget. So films will have to cost less to make in order to maximize profits. Tom Cruise will be a dinosaur – because paying his rates for films will no longer make good business sense. Instead of multi million dollar special effects, (oh, here comes some real blasphemy), perhaps the marketplace will begin to demand good writing! Imagine a world in which Napoleon Dynamite or better yet, Repo Man is not an anomaly, but the norm.
Now I firmly believe that Pirates are cool and Ninjas suck. And anyone who thinks otherwise is both wrong *and* lame. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirates_versus_Ninjas. See also http://www.ninjasandpirates.org and http://www.piratesversusninjas.com/prototype/
However, that is not why I am on the side of the Pirates. I support Piracy because I believe that it is a cleansing force in culture. Piracy is a parasite that will eat away at the largest of the entertainment beasts – and we all know that the bigger the beast, the bigger the steaming pile of turd. I’m kind of sick of turds in my culture.