Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Torrent of Oscars

Those cheeky lads and lassies at the Pirate Bay are having a party this weekend. Its being hosted at

OscarTorrents is the Oscars as it should be -- everyone can download the year's nominations using the popular BitTorrent service, watch the movies, then use our rating system to choose their favourites. Why restrict the voting to a few bought-off jurors when the whole world can have their say?
I can understand their point but I think it is a bit of a case of "poking-the-old-blind-lion-with-the-stick". This is, I think, only going to reinforce the perceived threat that P2P networks are endangering civilization; very much the Hollywood line. Benkler in The Wealth of Networks (which is incidentally freely available for download in a variety of formats from the wiki that supports the book) writes that:

[...]peer-to-peer networks, and what Fisher has called “promiscuous copying” on the Internet, have created a perceived threat to the very existence of the major players in the industrial cultural production system—Hollywood and the recording industry. These industries are enormously adept at driving the regulation of their business environment—the laws of copyright, in particular. As the threat of copying and sharing of their content by users increased, these industries have maintained a steady pressure on Congress, the courts, and the executive to ratchet up the degree to which their rights are enforced. (p409 in the paper text)
Of course these efforts have largely failed to stem the flow of P2P copying but that is not stopping any of the paradigm players involved from giving up and abandoning their parallel industry of copyright protection, violation and detection. It would be better to abandon the whole Oscars circus and start something new, using the power of torrents to bring it into the lives of millions.

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