Do File-Sharers Have Any Web Rights?
So you like to "share" music, video and other possibly copyrighted information over the Web. Do you have a right to Web access. Yes, if you are a European Union citizen. No, if you live in the U.S.
That's the conclusion to be drawn from a recent BBC News report that explains how European politicians have been rejecting efforts to throw file-sharers off the Web. Apparently, there's a belief among those politicians that civil liberties and human rights trump matters of commerce. Nice, but terribly quaint.
Don't worry -- it will never happen in the good old USofA. The music industry, movie and television studios, the big Internet providers and other Big Media that have enjoyed a tremendous rise in power and profits during the last eight years still have American politicians in their back pocket and the increasingly conservative courts in their scope. So the effort that began several years ago to crush, co-opt and dismember file-sharing sites (and, more amazingly, prosecute the file-sharers themselves) is likely to do nothing but accelerate in the near future.
I still can't fathom any difference between taping a CD (legal) and sharing a downloaded movie file (illegal). The music and movie industries have been squealing for years that sales and profits are dropping because they are losing business to Web pirates. No sympathy here. Your sales are dropping because your products are lousy and nobody wants to pay for them. It's probably much more convenient to whine about Web piracy than to adapt you business model to the new Web reality. Meanwhile, European citizenship is starting to look pretty appealing.