每日英語跟讀 Ep.927: In Culture of Access, a Frustrating Pursuit of Bootleggers
On June 30, 2010, Hana Beshara woke to a sharp rapping on the door of her condo in New Jersey.
“ I’m thinking it’s, like, Amazon,” she said.
It wasn’t a delivery. It was a team of armed federal agents who went through her belongings, confiscating her TV, computers and cellphones — anything with a hard drive.
Ms. Beshara was a founder of a site called NinjaVideo, at the time one of the most popular places online to illegally stream and download TV shows and movies. At its peak, the site attracted 2.6 million visitors a day and had around 60,000 registered members. The site made watching illegal downloads almost as simple as flipping on the TV. Few who used it were surprised when it was shuttered.
To the government, Ms. Beshara was a thief . The Motion Picture Association of America alerted the federal government to NinjaVideo and nine other movie-streaming sites, and they all went dark at the same time. The scale of the operation carried out by several agencies was meant to send a warning that the government wasn’t ignoring the freewheeling world of illegal online streaming and downloading.
But it has proved very difficult to reverse a pervasive cultural nonchalance about what constitutes intellectual property theft on the web. File-sharing, most of it illegal, still amounts to nearly a quarter of all consumer Internet traffic, according to Cisco Systems’ Visual Networking Index. And a recent report from Tru Optik, a media analytics firm, said that nearly 10 billion movies, television shows and other files were downloaded globally in the second quarter of 2014. Tru Optik estimates that 6 percent of those downloads were legal.
Congressional efforts in the United States, like a proposed Stop Online Piracy Act introduced in 2011, met with such strident objections from the technology industry that lawmakers backed down. The Copyright Alert System sends warnings when downloading of copyrighted content is detected . But last year, 1.3 million warnings were sent, a tiny fraction of what Tru Optik estimates to be 400 million illegal downloads in the United States each month.
In 2012, the United States seized and shut down Megaupload, the popular digital locker site that allowed people to share files like movies and music anonymously, and arrested its owner, Kim Dotcom, along with other high-level executives. They have been indicted by the United States on charges related to copyright infringement, although many legal experts are not sure if a case will ever go to court.
The motion picture group says it is not pursuing any new legislation to crack down on copyright infringement online, focusing instead on educating consumers about legal streaming options. The task, though, is “ at this point, never-ending,” said Michael D. Robinson, a group executive. He added, “It is difficult to compete with free.”
One study, by the American Assembly at Columbia University in New York, found that 70 percent of young adults had copied or downloaded music or video free and almost 30 percent got most of their collections that way. The pervasive cultural norm, especially among younger people, is that illegal downloading, at least when it involves material from big corporations, is no big deal.
Andres Monroy-Hernandez, a social computing researcher at Microsoft Research, studied attitudes around ownership on collaborative, user-generated websites. He found that young Internet users became angry when peers used their works without permission, but didn’t see a problem in lifting images from shows or movies for use in their own work. “The farther removed you feel from the source,” he said, “the more likely you are to disregard the copyright and the intellectual property.”
There is another obstacle to stopping illegal downloads, said Andre Swanston, the chief executive of Tru Optik, the media analytics firm. People want access to everything, anytime, and there is little to stop them from having it. Even combining Netflix, Amazon Prime and other such services, “that is still less content available legally than illegally,” he said. “The popularity of piracy has nothing to do with cost — it is all about access.”
Peter Eckersley of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit , said the law should shift its focus to making sure that copyright holders are paid for their work, rather than trying to stymie how people gain access to it. That kind of solution, he said, would create different priorities that go beyond chasing smalltime pirates like Ms. Beshara.
After she spent 16 months in prison for conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement, Ms. Beshara still argued that the movie business was so big that skimming a little did not hurt anybody. Her site, she said, operated in a “gray area.”
Recalling the “old days” of NinjaVideo, she said, “I would never take it back.”
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/267314/web/