The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) vs. P2P
It began with the sacking of Napster, and has steadily grown to become an all-out offensive against participants of on-line Peer-2-Peer (P2P) file sharing networks. While the Recording Industry, (RIAA), may have fired the first salvo, the Film Industry, represented by the Motion Picture Association of America, (MPAA), from recently jumping into the litigious fray.
On November 16th, 2004, the MPAA announced it would begin launching lawsuits against a select group of P2P users accused of possessing and/or transmitting copyrighted films. These lawsuits, in the same vain as the RIAA’s ongoing legal offensive, are meant to intimidate other P2P users to cease and desist any illegal activities involving movies.
From a distance, this recent crack down appears to be not only acceptable, but also morally unquestionable. Upon closer inspection of the issue, it becomes readily apparent that scapgoating P2P networks is not only an unnecessary and ‘unwinable’ battle, (as the RIAA can attest), but also a waste of anti-piracy resource away from real piracy threats.
Before any discussion on the actions of MPAA can be broached, it is necessary to deliver a brief historical primer on the intellectual property laws, in particular copyrights. To begin with, a copyright is used to protect creative rather than industrial forms. No formal registration is required to gain protection of a creation. The only requirement is that creation must be expressed, that is, an idea or knowledge in and of itself is not copyrightable, only the expression of the idea.
The first form of international intellectual property protection came in 1886 with the Berne Convention. This agreement granted protection to the owner of the copyright for duration of his or her life plus fifty years following, and obligated all the signing member countries to enforce these international copyrights. Periodically over the next hundred and twelve years the laws have been updated to consider new technology and forms of expression, all culminating with the Digital Millennium Act (DMA), in 1998.
The DMA first and foremost was put together to deal with Internet related intellectual property issues. The Act limits aspects of fair dealing, requirements of Internet Service Providers (ISP) to monitor users sites for copyright infringements. It also provides legal backing for newly implemented format security features found on DVD’s and software.
The notion that this crusade against P2P networks as being unnecessary and unwinable can largely be demonstrated from two key vantage points. To begin with, there are some rather severe technical limitations/problems that seriously limit the damage on-line file sharing can accomplish. The average DVD contains between 5 to 8GB’s of information, by any measure these would be massive files to transfer. With this in...