A few years ago, after realizing that blaming consumers wasn't a particularly effective strategy in covering up for the entertainment industry's own inability to adapt to a changing market, industry insiders chose a new strategy: blame ISPs
. That sent them down a path of trying to force ISPs to do a variety of things, such as installing filters, policing their networks for copyright-infringing material and, of course, kicking users off their networks. In the mind of entertainment industry execs, a failure to do any of these things should be a crime. Note how the industry totally shifts responsibility here. Rather than admitting that they
should change with the market, it's always someone else
who needs to change to protect the entertainment industry's obsolete business model.
While the industry has been able to get some politicians and ISPs to agree (amazingly, often against their own best interests), it's now gone a step further. A bunch of the biggest movie studios (Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Disney Enterprises, and the Seven Network) have teamed up to sue Australia's largest ISP, iiNet
, for failing to stop copyright infringement. iiNet, you may recall, is the same ISP that has been mocking
the Australian government for requiring filters. So, naturally, it's response to this lawsuit is rather direct. While the studios complain that iiNet isn't doing anything, iiNet responds that this is not true at all. They pass each complaint on to the police, because if there's a crime, then the police should deal with it:
They send us a list of IP addresses and say 'this IP address was involved in a breach on this date'. We look at that say 'well what do you want us to do with this? We can't release the person's details to you on the basis of an allegation and we can't go and kick the customer off on the basis of an allegation from someone else'. So we say 'you are alleging the person has broken the law; we're passing it to the police. Let them deal with it'.
We are not traffic cops. We can't stand in the middle of it and stop the individual items that might be against the law. These guys are asking us to be judge, jury and executioner.
Even better, iiNet's CEO Michael Malone gets to the heart of the matter:
I think they genuinely believe that ISPs have a secret magic wand that we are hiding and if we bring it out we can make piracy disappear just by waving it. And it doesn't exist.
Indeed, but that might mean that the entertainment industry has to actually take responsibility for their own business model failings, and they can't do that. So they have
to blame others.