MegaUpload is the latest victim in the string of intense attacks by the Movie and Music industries, to try and end the "illegal" sharing of copyrighted works on the Internet. They weren't even found guilty of a crime, and yet their entire company and personal assets were liquidated by officials in 4 different countries without a trial.
But MegaUpload certainly wasn't the first and wont be the last, not to mention the thousands of everyday folks that have been mercilessly bankrupted, and completely drained of their last cent, because they shared a few songs on Limewire or Napster.
The Record and Movie industry spends 100 of millions of dollars to basically censor the Internet and forbid the reproduction or viewing of any work that they don't want people to see or hear, without paying the price they set.
We have to ask, how come the Internet has become such a problem for the industry that they have and continue to go to such tremendous efforts in million dollar lobbies to modify the laws in every country in the world to basically effect censorship on a worldwide scale of the Internet? What is it exactly they fear so much?
They make the constant and resounding argument that piracy, especially that found on the Internet, and even more so file sharing services, costs them millions of dollars in lost sales. But is that really true? If someone watches a movie they found on-line that otherwise they never would had even heard of, does that mean that the Movie industry is out of money, considering that person never would had bought the movie in the first place? Or how about the realities of the world economy, where in several countries of the world the average take home pay is a scant of what one makes in the US, or Canada or other nations, with minimum wage salaries often less than 5 dollars a day. So because of this economic difference should millions of people be effectively locked out and forbidden to listen to music or enjoy movies because they cant afford to pay 20 dollars a CD, or movie, or 1 dollar per song as is the current model offered?
Piracy exists because there is a market demand that is not left any other alternative to be satisfied other than by the purchase of pirate songs and movies because the consumers are economically locked out of the traditional distribution system so adored by the industry of current.
At the end of the day, though, in spite of all the ruthless attempts by the media industry to stamp out this world medium, what is realized and what exists is a multi billion dollar market, currently controlled by less than reputable business people, who indeed rake in massive profits (as MegaVideos 200 million dollars), simply because the Movie and Music industry just doesn't get the Internet model, or don't care to understand it.
The Internet model is simple. Offer content to a world audience and let them choose what they want to see and hear. Its works very well for Google, for Facebook, you tube and a score of others. The content is either paid for by a subscription service, or is offered for free but subsidized by advertising revenues, or a combination of both.
When there are literally millions of songs and media works, movies, series, specials, sporting event, etc.., how can the old industry model of pay per song and pay per movie still hold value for them? Especially in this day and age where many movies are just recycled plots seen 1000s of times, people are more and more discouraged to fork over 20 dollars for a DVD only to find out within 5 minutes that its a pile of garbage that should never had been produced.
What the Internet model does is allow freedom of choice and a means to distribute large volumes of media to literally millions of users quickly, effectively, and with less overhead than the industries current system of manufacturing CDs,/DVDs, and distributing them by snail mail all over the world.
What Megaupload did was prove that the Internet model works extremely well for the distribution of this prized media, and is quite profitable. Instead of forcing people to buy each and every movie or song as a separate purchase, they are allowed through a daily, monthly or yearly subscription thats also in part financed by advertising to choose from a large volume of songs and movies, and decide which ones they want to watch or listen to. It works extremely well, especially for giving the consumer more rights over what they purchase. For example if they start watching a movie and in 5 minutes decide they don't like it, they just switch to another one, without being out 20 dollars. The customer is happy and the industry is happy because both win, not as it is currently where only the industry wins without offering any guarantee of quality nor consumer satisfaction.
Its now becoming critical mass, where the industries outright refusal to change their business model and adopt to the Internet model, as probably the most efficient and profitable means for them to distribute their material ever invented, and instead attempt to shut it down, has become extremely dangerous for the Internet's future.
The Internet is transparent, its a medium for the sharing and transfer of information on a worldwide scale in real time. The Internet is not owned by anyone, and is free to everyone to access, use, contribute and experience. The Internet cannot be held responsible for the illegal sharing of copyrighted content anymore than Apple can be held responsible for selling an Ipod that holds 50,000 songs. Is not the latter also encouraging piracy? Or was it the intent of Apple to expect their customers to fork over a few bills for an Ipod and then pay another 50,000 dollars to fill it with music?
Indeed an entire industry has been built up around the Internet, from hardware to software to services to mega corporations as Google. Its a well tested world communication system that has done far more good for social consciousness and advancement than any other human invention. Yet now it stands at risk to become severally handicapped because one select group of industries, instead of taking advantage of the Internet and changing their business model, want to shut it down to force the world to continue to do business by Neanderthal principles.
Indeed the ripple effects of the latest moves have almost paralyzed the Internet in the sense of cloud computing. Many investors and cloud projects have suddenly been put on hold, and many cloud file sharing services have greatly limited their service or completely shutdown, because who can chance the risks of a multi million dollar startup, that it could be shutdown overnight, all its assets seized and its responsible officers be sent to prison because some of its clients uploaded copyrighted material to the "Cloud". Especially regardless of what country or jurisdiction they operate.
I think most agree that its better off that the industry reaped those Mega profits instead of a fly by night flamboyant playboy as DotCom with 100s of luxury cars and a giraffe to boot. But to get there is not resolved by shutting down or attacking the Internet model, rather embracing the same model as the pirateers, but instead run by the legitimate copyright holders. They owe it to themselves, to their artists, to their employees, stockholders and most importantly to the Internet. They have a chance to make more money than they have ever dreamed of, and encourage the growth of this expansive and powerful, world communication system, instead of wasting millions in trying to find ways in how they can effectively shut it down.
They could offer a mixed model, where all new productions for a time period are pay per view, but all the millions of other songs and movies in their massive collection could be liberated and offered to the 1 billion plus Internet users, as a subscription service in part financed by advertising, giving the consumers freedom of choice, and allowing the industry a chance to make money on already existing works of which many currently don't produce even 2 cents in profit in their restrictive state.
It would be a win-win. The Internet would continue to thrive, piracy would no longer exist because the consumer would always prefer to have access to legitimate high quality content than sub rate, pirated versions, and the industry would rake in more money than they have ever made before, at a fraction of the overhead costs.
Ignorance and lack of marketing vision shouldn't be a valid excuse for one industry to severally handicap one of the most powerful and expansive social communication networks ever invented.About The Author
Brandt Hott can be reached at: email@example.com