Okay, I’m finally catching up. This should be one of the last “old news” posts for a while. I may have one or two more and then the focus will return to more current items.
As blogged on Lockergnome and BoingBoing, the MPAA has disgracefully acted to shut down an entire city’s public Wi-Fi network due to one user downloading a copyrighted movie. The latter article references the Coshocton Tribune’s original story.
The town of Coshocton, OH, maintained an open public Wi-Fi connection hosted at the courthouse at 318 Main Street. (As you can see from the map, the Tribune’s offices aren’t far from it.) Sometime during the days prior to 2009 November 09, when this story was printed, a complaint came in from Sony Pictures Entertainment to the county’s ISP, OneCommunity, which in turn notified the county.
So now, there is no free Wi-Fi by the courthouse, at least for the moment. The county is looking at installing a filtering program in an attempt to squash those who want to use government resources to get their illicit movie fix, but that does not come cheaply: $2,000 for equipment, then $900 annually for the filtering software license.
The BoingBoing article has choice words for the MPAA, which I am a bit inclined to agree with. They refer to “the MPAA’s spokeslizard” who is identified as Elizabeth Kaltman in the Tribune’s article, who not surprisingly uses the loaded term “piracy” to refer to copyright infringement.
It would be much more reasonable to expect respect for the MPAA’s copyrights if its member studios charged reasonable prices for its movies. When DVD displaced VHS, not only did the studios pocket the lowered expense in producing the former versus the latter, but often upped the price. $20 or more for a DVD movie is still not unheard of; note that the titles that cost $5 to $10 at a discount store are rarely the same ones that one would ever find on a BitTorrent tracker or similar peer-to-peer network. (The RIAA did something similar during the transition from vinyl records and cassette tapes to CDs, charging more for the same music even though production costs went down.)
There is plenty of money to be had by charging a reasonable ($15 maximum, $12 average) price for a DVD. Yet Hollywood (the MPAA) sees nothing but dollar signs, even during the recession, and keeps the price tag arbitrarily high. And then, they wonder why more people get it from BitTorrent or Limewire than Amazon, Wal-Mart, or Target.
If the MPAA’s member organizations don’t like the return on investment they get when setting a reasonable price, maybe they should consider producing higher quality product (movies). Jacking the price up is a no-win for everyone.