The Copyright Empire strikes back
Apr 29, 2016
The Pirate Bay Founder Warns of Streaming Services Becoming New Copyright Oppressors, Threatening User Freedom and Decision Power
You like music, and it's very likely that you've already downloaded content or committed "piracy" in the opinion of the MPAA (the American entertainment lobby). Record labels have been downsized to much smaller proportions, and listening to music (and watching movies) has become much cheaper with OTT systems like Netflix or Spotify. But pay attention: you have not escaped danger - it just changed logos, according to Peter Sunde.
Hunted for years by the legal systems of various representatives of the establishment culture, the creators of The Pirate Bay neither give up nor soften. If the situation has changed a lot in the last decade, it's largely due to them, who questioned the legality of a code of laws that does not serve society but serves itself. More than not giving up, the "pirates" have renewed the discourse: Netflix and Spotify, two business models that became viable because of TPB's contestation, are also threats. This, in their mouths, is enough to understand that war is coming.
In 2003, the entertainment industry had already entered and exited its first digital rumble through Napster, which showed how much the current system of copyright was unfair and distorted. That year, The Pirate Bay emerged, the site that would deliver the final blow to the redesign in practice of copyright. If you have been frozen for the last 10 years, TPB is the libertarian refuge of "piracy" or "free sharing" (depending on your ideological hue).
Every time a technological advance happens, society suffers a jolt and needs to learn to cope. Here, learning to cope usually means "regulating," making what society does become law and not creating laws for society to comply with. Now in its third decade, society is completely digitized, and part of the industry still wants to formulate laws that are beneficial to it and not that serve society. The entertainment establishment (or "Hollywood" or "the media corporations" or whatever other term you want to use) will not stop trying to put a leash on society and will lose. It remains to be seen whether the suffering resulting from this battle will be greater or smaller.
This article from Torrent Freak brings the opinion of Peter Sunde, one of the TPB's guerrillas. Sunde is a punk (if you haven't seen the doc about TPB, watch - it's worth it). He refuses to endorse the laws around copyright because - correctly, in my view - he understands that the law does not serve society, but rather a numerically irrelevant group. Sunde claims that services like Spotify can become the bottleneck of media consumption, taking away the user's decision power.
“I stopped using Spotify when they took a bunch of songs off the catalog. Someone decided that I shouldn't listen to that anymore and that's it. I didn't have that saved and lost it. I refuse to accept this,” said Sunde.
Sunde's reasoning is accurate. Spotify, Netflix, and other streaming services are becoming the new repositories of copyright. As the non-digital system has collapsed, it is the new digital corporations that will 'inherit' the role of establishment in the management of copyrights. They will have a lot of power in their hands, enough power to decide who dies and who does not die in terms of revenue. The same way record labels and Hollywood studios were the gatekeepers of vehicles capable of generating the bulk of revenue, Netflixes and Spotifies can determine price without a chance of negotiation.
Where does the situation end? Never. This is not a discussion that can have an outcome in the near future. Copyright is a capitalist invention that recovered the power to censor information that had remained in the hands of the Catholic Church for centuries. Despite having worked well throughout the industrial era, copyright imploded in the digital due to the marginal cost of reproducing any creative work that could be digitized (99.9% of the total). The possible metamorphosis of digital services like Netflix and Spotify, which took power from the previous regime (record labels and studios) in the roles of new oppressors, has an embedded irony and marks the disappearance of the time where good guys and bad guys were distinct characters.
Photo by: n.bhupinder