MPAA Whacs A Few More Moles, Declares Premature Victory While Making Movie Fans Worse Off

from the good-luck-with-that-strategy dept

The MPAA gleefully announced on Tuesday that it had shut down the main fork of Popcorn Time along with torrent site YTS (and its associated release group YIFY). Of course, if we go back through the history of file sharing, we can find plenty of times when the MPAA similarly declared victory over the shutdown of other file sharing sites -- and not a single one did a damn thing to slow down piracy rates. People just move on to something else. And yet, the MPAA thinks that it did something important here:
“This coordinated legal action is part of a larger comprehensive approach being taken by the MPAA and its international affiliates to combat content theft,” said Chris Dodd, chairman and chief executive of the MPAA, in a statement.

Dodd also says, "By shutting down these illegal commercial enterprises, which operate on a massive global scale, we are protecting not only our members’ creative work and the hundreds of innovative, legal digital distribution platforms, but also the millions of people whose jobs depend on a vibrant motion picture and television industry.”
Dodd is wrong. He's not protecting anything, other than perhaps his own job. Shutting down these sites doesn't decrease infringement -- the infringement just moves elsewhere. It's a giant game of whac-a-mole that the MPAA (and RIAA) have been playing for over a decade, and never seeing any kind of different result.

We highlighted this just last month with our Carrot or Stick research report, which made it clear that these enforcement efforts don't do a damn thing to slow down piracy, and don't do anything to help content creators or the wider creative ecosystem to get paid. You know what does do that? Allowing more innovation to flow. Popcorn Time was popular not just because it was "free" but because the interface and usability were incredible. The MPAA should be learning from that, in understanding how to help offer better products rather than celebrating shutting it down.

Again and again we've seen that when people are presented with good, convenient and reasonably priced options, they massively decrease their infringing activities. But the MPAA has actually made that difficult by burdening most services with ridiculous requirements (like forcing people to watch a movie within 24 hours, or limiting things so that the market becomes fragmented and people can't find the content they actually want to see). If the MPAA were truly concerned with making sure that revenue was supporting the creative ecosystem it would be looking at what Popcorn Time did right, and creating a legal service based on it. Cheering on the fact that you whac'd another mole, while everyone's already moved on to something else is hardly something worth celebrating.

Filed Under: copyright, enforcement, file sharing, innovation, popcorn time, takedowns, yify, yts
Companies: mpaa

Reader Comments

The First Word

It's not about the money

It's never been about the money.

It's about the competition and control.

Could they adapt, learn from sites and services like the ones listed and offer something similar? Sure, but that would require them to offer their movies on the terms that the public wants, rather than the terms they're so used to dictating.

If people with essentially zero funding can throw together wildly popular services for movies, Hollywood, with it's billions, could easily craft a superior service, and make an absolute killing doing so. And if all they cared about what the money, you can be sure that they would.

So why haven't they?

Because doing so would require them to give up the control that they cherish, even more so than the money they love so much. No more geo-blocking or release windows, no more DRM infections locking down movies to be watched only on certain devices and in certain ways, no more lucrative licensing deals for 'exclusive access'.

If they could decimate piracy rates such that the overwhelming majority of people were willing to sign up for the 'official' offering(and make no mistake, done right a service like that absolutely would, like Netflix on steroids) then there would be no justification for restrictive laws to 'protect' them, no massive burdens on everyone else to play unpaid copyright-cop.

That services like Popcorn Time exist shows what the *AA's could do, but chose not to, so of course they do everything they can to kill them off. It's easy to convince people that bread and water is a great meal if that's all they know, but after they've experienced what real food tastes like, selling that bread and water becomes a lot more difficult.
—That One Guy

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2015 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re: It's not about the money

    There is a difference between DVD distribution and Online streaming, the MPAA members can control access to the DVD presses, but they cannot control access to streaming services. They want to discourage streaming as its widespread adoption will increase the competition to their output because they cannot gate keep the means of producing copies. That is DVD production is a a limited resource which can be leveraged to control what content is published, while streaming is an unlimited resource available to anybody who wants to distribute content.

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