July 20, 2002
MPAA, RIAA, it's all the same to me

Following the brilliantly successful and customer-endearing strategy of the RIAA, the MPAA is taking steps to crack down on those who swap digital movie files online.

Look, I'm not going to defend piracy. Maybe the recording industry really has been hurt by all that scurrilous Napstering, even more than their decisions to throw millions at Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson, and the motion picture industry is wise to take action now before things get worse.

But I think the movie industry is making a big mistake. Never mind the fact that the impact of file swapping on music sales is debatable, as these conflicting stories show. Never mind the fact that you can't stop swapping. Never mind the effect on fair use and privacy - the linked story talks of "legislation that would allow entertainment companies to obstruct the peer-to-peer networks with a variety of invasive electronic techniques".

This is a bad decision by the movie industry because the new technology is as much an opportunity as it is a threat, something which the music industry is finally and grudgingly realizing. There's no reason why it can't be leveraged into something profitable by Hollywood. The time to investigate how is now, not in a few years after you've spent millions shoveling sand against the tide and pissing off your best customers in the process.

The choice is yours, fellas. Try not to screw it up.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 20, 2002 to Technology, science, and math