Archive for January, 2011

Can we ever solve the piracy issue?

 

In the mid of last year the US Customs and Homeland agencies seized the domain names of nine popular video streaming sites sighting piracy issues. The seized domain names include popular websites including PlanetMoviez.com, NinjaThis.net, TVshack.net and Links.tv. Visiting these streaming websites displayed the following message from US authorities:

SiteSeizedNOTICE

According to the US government these domains were seized for copyright infringement and illegal distribution of pirated movies and other video content. These websites usually charge a minimal subscription fee and provide users with the illegal content. Also the related bank accounts have been seized in addition with four residential search warrants in New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and Washington. An interesting fact about these websites was that all of them were ranked among top 10,000 in Alexa.

So the situation right now is that these websites cannot be accessed but does that means that the issue of copyright infringement and piracy been solved? Unfortunately, the answer is negative. These measures can only slow down the illegal content distribution but it is not the permanent solution. Why it is not the permanent solution? Lets have a look.

Let us take the example of TVshack.net. The website’s hosting service was provided by a Netherlands based company Ecatel. However the domain name was registered through a US based company and this was the main reason why the domain is inaccessible now. Ecatel is providing its hosting services to a number of companies/websites but none of them had a share on the server like TVshack. This can be supported by the fact that Ecatel’s overall traffic went down 25% after a few hours of the takedown of TVshack.

So have we really blocked the pirated content from TVshack? Unfortunately, the answer is negative. Though the content of the website is not available on TVshack.net, the owner of the website registered a new domain TVshack.cc which contains all the content of the previous domain. This time the domain registrar was a Chinese company. Later in the year the US authorities blocked this  domain and the website owner registered a new domain and moved the content there. Similarly some other confiscated domains are also functional under their new domain name containing all the previous pirated content e.g. Movies-Link.tv is now working under domain Watch-movies-tv.info.

The matter of fact is that the rest of the seized domains will probably be registered under a new domain outside US and more pirated content will be available again in the coming future. In the next few months these websites will again have the same number of visitors they earlier had or probably more. So how much piracy issue been addressed by taking all these measures? You are not going to like it but the fact is that the issue is still the same and nothing changed a bit. The US law enforcers only managed to slow down the process but they failed to prevent it even a bit.

Now lets come to the solution. The first question is that is there even a solution for piracy? One thing is certain i.e. we can minimize piracy but it seems impossible to completely stop it. The problem is that different countries have different rules for piracy. One act can be considered as an offence in one country but the same act cannot be considered as crime in another country e.g. the case of TVshack. This also indicates that many countries don’t even consider piracy an issue and hence they are not taking serious measures to tackle it.

An international body should be formed which would only focus on addressing issues related to piracy. With the collaboration of international community this organization should constitute an international piracy law which would be applicable to all the member countries. This international body would work similar to INTERPOL i.e. it would collaborate with all the member countries to address this crime. The main focus should be on the implementation of this law because certain countries already have some laws but they are not adequately implemented. If this happens, it would definitely help reduce piracy on a larger scale.

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