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Arggh! Consumers and Czech Pirates Attack Media Industries

by Anthony Kaufman
August 17, 2011 1:42 AM
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In Variety today, contributor Brian Lowry wrote a piece titled "Consumer choices can hurt biz," which suggests that people don't care how technological changes affect the industry, even if it might cripple established industries.

"Consumers aren't afflicted by such concerns regarding collateral damage," he writes. "They want what they want how and when they want it, and don't care if economic staples -- whether that's family farms, domestic manufacturing or traditional content distribution -- suffer as a consequence."

If Web-enabled TVs might potentially obliterate cable and satellite providers as we know them, the response from your average consumer, suggests Lowry, is "Screw 'em."

Indeed, every day it seems there are more and more reports of consumers and activists around the world, flouting standard practices of consumption and inventing new ways to get around paying for content. Call it kind of "information narcissism," as Neal Gabler did recently in the New York Times, a sense of content entitlement, or anti-capitalist activism, but this is the new digital world we live in and it's a little passe to lament the old ways. (To write this post, I got around two paywalls, at Variety and the New York Times, so there's further proof.)

As Mikulas Ferjencik, the vice president of the protest group the Czech Pirate Party, recently said, "I don't want to go to a shop to buy a DVD where I have to wait 10 minutes, and the shop's open only until 6:00 pm, and I decide at 8:00 pm that I want to watch a movie, and it's available for three clicks and I can watch it right away."

The activities of the Czech Pirate Party may be old news to those who follow the exploits of those struggling to liberate content from copyright laws, but they are indicative of a broad-based global movement of young pro-piracy activists and audiences.

It was first announced at the end of July that the group had declared "war" against the Czech Anti-Piracy Union for its persecution of a teenager who had created a links site of pirated material. The CPP's first shot: The launch of a sleekly designed new portal for pirated material.

“By bullying young people," the pirates claimed, "the Czech Anti-Piracy Union, with the help of the state, is attempting in vain to salvage the old business model which has ceased to function in the age of the internet."

The CPP's new site, Tipnafilm.cz ("tip for a film"), provides links to other places to download digital copies of Hollywood material, but hosts no pirated content itself. Their motto: “Linking is not a crime."

Well, the global entertainment industry may have something to say about that.

For example, Sweden-based Bittorrent site, The Pirate Bay, faces millions of dollars in legal fines, after it was deemed to be violating copyright laws.

But the appearance of the CPP and other rogue pro-piracy groups suggests the wild waters of the digital age can't really be policed.

And for those interested in using the site, you'll have to brush up on your Czech. Although I guess the words "Rapid-Share" don't require much translation.

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