I am an ardent movie fan. As a hobby, movie watching ranks high on my list of things to do when I am not working. So, I am paying keen attention to the recent Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Stop Online Piracy Act. I am not fully vetted on the details of the legislation, but this I know the optics of the MPAA’s conflict with some technology business interests are not good.
More than a decade ago, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) was faced with a somewhat similar challenge. Napster, a peer-to-peer file sharing (mostly music) internet service, was omnipresent among millions of music fans who shared the company’s typically audio MP3 format.
The RIAA fought to shut down Napster because of copyright infringement. Millions of music fans rebelled against
commercial music companies by finding other pirate file sharing internet services to obtain free music. Napster was eventually shuttered, but the collateral damage from closing this popular and well loved internet service was a Recording Industry which no longer was profitable. Several record companies went out of business. Moreover, several of the companies (Tower Records, Virgin
Record Store among others) that sold music closed. Today, the Music Industry is trying to find the way forward from its glory days.
I trust the MPAA will be strategic in dealing with their adversaries during the antic-piracy discussions they are engaged in at the moment. I know, “it’s Hollywood and Hollywood is powerful,” but I would hate to see the same thing which happened to the music industry occur in the movie business. That would be a sad day for me and millions of movie fans.