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"Hollywood vs. the Internet": To Take Action or Not
Kindra Cassidy
Academic affiliation: Oklahoma State University
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In Mike Godwin's article called, "Hollywood vs. the Internet," he talks of the unlawful sharing of files from the Internet. Godwin writes about the different companies and their relationship to copyrighting songs and movies from the Internet. For instance, practically everyone has heard about the company called Napster and how one can download files to his/her personal computer by using it. This file sharing is a cheaper way of obtaining information. Because of this file sharing, industries are worried about losing money. To prevent this from happening copyright laws have already been emplaced, but there are still people out there who have found ways to obtain copyrighted data illegally. Although many are caught, the Content Faction, which is made up of TV studios, record companies and book publishers, wants to make new laws that will make it harder for people to copy files. Also, they have come up with a watermark idea, which they think will be a solution to the problem. The Tech Faction, which is made up of computer makers, software companies, and manufacturers of related devices such as CD burners, MP3 players, and Internet routers, thinks that the copyright laws now are fine and new ones should not be made. Also, they believe that the question at hand should be left alone, because they think everything has been done to prevent this problem from happening and nothing else can be done. These two factions have different opinions on this subject. Stricter laws will have to be implemented and enforced for file sharing to stop.

The Content Faction has come up with an idea to incorporate a "digital rights management" (DRM) feature to digital equipment that will prevent copyright infringement. Digital Television would be the first form of media experimented with. The DRM feature would work as follows: A watermark would be added to all digital TV signals, so there will not be the file copying and sharing. This watermark would let home entertainment systems know if it is legal or not to copy the content. The only problem with this watermark is that it will not work with older digital videos or MP3 players that were made before this watermark idea. The older equipment will not have this watermark feature; therefore, new data would not be able to be played on these types of digital equipment. Even though, the Content Faction is trying to restructure the digital world, this should not prohibit ones' use of his/her digital equipment. Data can still be played on the older digital equipment, just not new data. That is where the problem exists with this watermark idea. The Content Faction just wants to make it nearly impossible to copy copyrighted material; that is why they are coming up with this watermark idea. This idea will not work; this is not the solution to stopping file sharing and copying. Stricter laws are the answer.

The other faction, referred to as the Tech Faction, disagrees with the Content Faction, in the respect that it thinks that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) is enough protection for copyrighted material; there should not be anymore laws prohibiting file copying and sharing. Many of this faction's members, who are Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco System, and Adobe, want to see that "copyrighted works are reasonably well-protected," but they do not see where new laws will help (175). These companies think that someone somehow will eventually find a way around copyrighting material, just as they have done in the past. The Content Faction is in support of a new bill that would mandate a national copyright protection standard, but the Tech Faction is content with the laws already in place. This faction will not help with solving the problem. The Tech Faction needs to understand that if new laws were made and enforced people would begin to stop copyrighting data and the issue would die down.

Disney CEO Michael Eisner stated that, "the future of the American entertainment industry, the future consumers, and the future of America's balance of trade" is what is at stake (qtd. in Godwin175). The movie and music industries are not the only industries going to lose money; it is like a chain reaction, once one domino falls and hits another the rest begin to fall. Eisner is concerned with the future and thinks that things will be negatively affected if file copying and sharing continue to exist. Eisner later states that, "Just as computers make it possible to create remarkable pristine images, they also make it possible to make remarkable pristine copies" (qtd. in Godwin 175). Everyday computers are becoming smarter and faster and before long people will stop buying videos, CDs, etc; that is why Eisner is concerned that if the illegal file sharing resumes, the situation will only worsen and more money will be lost. Eisner wants to be at peace with the situation and is worried that the illegal file sharing will throw things off balance and he does not want that to happen. This is, yet, another reason why stricter laws should be made.

Lawsuits have been brought against people who have been caught for copyrighting material. In 2003 the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), "announced that it warned more than 200 people they could be sued unless they settled allegations that they distributed copyrighted music over the Internet" ("Sued"). The RIAA had been monitoring people and sent out notification letters to a total of 204 people informing them that they had been caught illegally downloading music and that they had 10-days to consult a lawyer to avoid a lawsuit. If the person chose not to contact the RIAA before the 10-day period he/she could not settle out of court and by the end of the month a lawsuit would be filed. The RIAA warned each individual of what was to come if he/she chose not to contact them. Also, the RIAA told each individual that they needed to consult a lawyer; the RIAA did not have to do this. As of October 2003 the RIAA had settled with 64 defendants with payments from $2,000 and $3,000 each. If there had been a trial, under the DMCA the RIAA could have won over $750,000. The RIAA went easy on the defendants; he/she was warned ahead of time what was going to happen. People think that the RIAA was in the wrong and that the defendants should have been warned the second he/she was caught file sharing; although, each individual already knew that it is illegal to copy and share copyrighted material.

Gigi Sohn a Public Knowledge President, who is in support of "the industry's crackdown on the more egregious copyright violators" ("Sued"), is one of those people who thinks that the RIAA was wrong about suing those people. He says that "the 10-day notification insufficient for the defendant to find a lawyer and prepare an appropriate response" ("Sued"). He, also, states that the RIAA did not alert the users to let them know that he/she was being watched when they were first identified. The RIAA was just expressing their powers as copyright owners and protecting what was rightfully theirs. The people should already know that it is illegal to download copyrighted music; that should have been enough warning. Excuses should not be made for people breaking the laws. There should be laws against these excuses.

The RIAA was nice to notify the people and let him/her know what was going on, before charges were pressed. The RIAA even gave them a 10-day warning before anything took place. Industries should not have to be that nice. There should be stricter laws emphasizing that if someone is caught copyrighting material, then immediately he/she will be brought to court, no excuses. Also, if someone is being suspected of copying or sharing files, he/she should be questioned and monitored periodically. This should make people frightened to share copyrighted material over the Internet. Now, most people are not scared to copy and share files, because it is very rare that people are caught and prosecuted.

A misconception of the Internet is that everything on it is public domain, meaning public access. People should understand that not everything on the Internet is meant for copying and sharing. Highlighting an item on someone else's webpage and then saving it is illegal. This is a false conception that people often do. If the web page designer gives permission to obtain the file, then it is okay, but otherwise, no. Internet users should always ask permission first before copying items from web sites, besides their own; this is known as netiquette. When copying and sharing files on the Internet; netiquette should be taken more seriously. This term is used by Dr. Homa Ghajar , a professor at Oklahoma State University, uses the term "netiquette" in her Computer Concepts and Applications classes. By applying this term, when copying and pasting from the Internet, it will help one to prevent the illegal file sharing and copying.

Copying and sharing copyrighted material is something that is taken lightly by many, but people should think about this issue and practice not taking part in these illegal actions. The copyright laws that are already in place should be enough, but apparently they are not. Industries should not have to go to such extremes as to place watermarks in digital equipment to prevent Internet file copying and sharing, but if that is what it takes, then it should happen. But if watermarks are emplaced, people should not think that it will prohibit the use of ones' digital equipment; the older device can still be used. The Content Faction is right, there should be stricter laws pertaining to copyrighting material from the Internet. Users found copyrighting material should be prosecuted immediately and users suspected of this crime should be thoroughly questioned. Also, the laws already in place and new laws should be better enforced by officials. Everyone has to partake in order for laws to take affect. The Tech Faction should rethink their feelings on this issue and decide what the right thing is to do. These are just a few things that should happen in order for people to stop the copying and sharing of copyrighted material over the Internet. If action is not taken then things will only worsen.

Works Cited

Godwin, Mike. "Hollywood vs. the Internet." Specualtions. Landrum, Jason, Matthew Wynn Sivilis, Constance Squires Ed. Kendall Hunt Publishing Company: Dubuque, Iowa, 2003. 173-178.

"Music Industry Warns File Sharers They Could Be Sued." Online News Hour. 20 Oct. 2003. 9 Sept. 2004. <http://www.pbs.org/newshour/media/media_watch/july-dec03/riaawarnings_10-20.html>.

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