No sympathy for the Giant Unregulated Motion Picture Industry was to be found by a defiant individual in Boca Raton, Florida. If anything, the Motion Picture Industry should be on trial here for lackluster products and over-priced movie tickets. The theatres alone make a huge fortune on their $4.50 sodas and popcorn. One might ask “Why is a 16 oz. soda 3 dollars more in a theatre then at your neighborhood 7-11? Is it a special top secret movie theatre only soda?
So they spend millions making a motion picture, but they make a hundred million dollar profit just at the theatre alone. Then we have pay per view, followed by Pay station Cable, and then of course the Movie goes on sale as a DVD. And if that’s not enough they end up in Video rental stores. So where do these “Internet Pirates” come in? You know the people who share their movies off their computers, from their homes. How dare the Motion Picture Industry cry about one citizen sharing a movie with another citizen. What’s next, video rentals.
What if you should spend $4.00 to rent a movie, but before you returned you let your brother take it home and watch it? Does that necessarily imply that you’re a “Pirate” because you shared a movie with someone that didn’t pay the video store their $4.00? Can we even say for sure that they would have even spent the money to watch the movie in the first place? Am I to assume that the video store would consider me a “Pirate” and could say I caused them to lose money? Where will it end? If someone were to sell the movie for profit, grant it, make him walk the plank. Aye!
This is an absurd quote from Dan Glickman, Chairman and CEO of MPAA. “We won’t stand by while people steal valuable copyrighted material with no regards whatsoever for the law or for the rights of creative people to be paid for their efforts. With these lawsuits, our message to internet THIEVES becomes loud and clear – you are not anonymous, we will find you, and you will be held responsible: You can Click but you can’t hide.” Whoa, whoa, whoa…did he actually say “You Can Click but you can’t hide?” It’s kind of a mixture of The Sheriff of Nottingham and J. Edgar Hoover.
Are you kidding me, it’s all about squeezing the public for more blood money. Who do you think gets the money from the Lawsuits? Do you think the directors get it, or maybe the actors, or perhaps the so called “Creative People”? And when they say “You are not anonymous, doesn’t that imply that we have no privacy in our own homes. People, they are saying we know what’s on your computer, in your house, and we don’t need a search warrant to come on in either. Think about it, “YOU CAN CLICK BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE”, Big brother is watching us and his name is “The Motion Picture Industry.” If they get away with invading our privacy just to make some rich lawyers even richer, then what’s next? Where does it stop? Where do they draw the line and haven’t they already crossed it. This isn’t about “The rights of the creative people”. They got paid and this has nothing to do with them, so don’t expect them to be compensated because this money is going to the people who don’t need any more money. The greedy and not the needy.
I don’t know maybe I’m getting a little paranoid, but when an Industry as powerful and influential as The Motion Picture Association of America tells us they “know what were clicking on and we can’t hide from them,” then this issue becomes way bigger than some movie being shared on the internet, it becomes an issue of Civil Rights, Privacy, and protection under our own Constitution. They couldn’t care less if people are sharing their movies on the internet, they’re more interested in the bigger picture, which is setting a precedent of personal privacy invasion, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. That’s the opening of “Pandora’s Box”.
Is the court to rule that my personal computer is not “Personal” at all? David faces Goliath alone and only armed by the Constitution of The United States and the rights each citizen is guaranteed and protected under. Or will the court rule that Big Industry is above even our own constitution, after all, they are a very powerful and influential group with an army of the best attorneys money can buy. They have the defendants in this action settling over the phone for $5,000 on up. A separate law office has been hired to do nothing else but make as much money as they can by scaring everyday, law abiding citizens into settlements.
Although most of the defendants in these suits were unaware of any law prohibiting “peer-to-peer” file sharing, they were cited copyright law from 1976 pre-Internet and even told they could do prison time of up to 5 years and face statutory damages of as much of $30,000 for each motion picture on their computer, whether in whole or in part. The hotline advised this writer that their client was “willing to settle for $6,000”, and told there was plenty of evidence and whether one “knew it was illegal or not, that had no bearing on the case”. This is where Mr. Bartels enters the picture.
Mr. Bartels contacts the attorneys after being given a summons. The attorneys say they can’t discuss the case and all they can do is direct Mr. Bartels to the “settlement hotline”.
The phone call to the “settlement hotline” is very reminiscent of taking a time share tour.
Mr. Bartels goes on to tell the settlement agent that he does not and never did know of any law he had violated. He asks the agent “how do you know what’s on my computer and did you actually go on my computer and view the two movies you claim I have on there, because if you did then you would have seen that they are not what you claim they are. How did you get access to files on my computer, don’t you need a warrant for that? Who would issue a warrant for something so minute anyway” The voice on the other end seems a bit caught off guard and could only come up with “we have plenty of evidence against you and you should settle now while you still can”.
It is at this point that Mr. Bartels demanded disclosure of any and all evidence against him, advising agent that he would be defending himself and therefore had the right to see if this hotline was set up as a Money making bluff. They informed him that they would ask the law firm they were sub contracted out to and let Mr. Bartels know in a day or 2, and that was the last he heard of them.
There are “Real” Pirates and counterfitters out there who intentionally break the law and cause billions of dollars a year. These people are criminals who know they’re breaking the law, yet continue to break it anyways. Then we have those who are browsing online and join Peer-To-Peer groups that make it possible to share files with others. It could be a movie, it could be a book, or it could be a collection of poems. It doesn’t matter. If there are companies on the internet that make it possible for anyone to connect to MILLIONS of users, then that’s who they should concentrate on. There should be some sort of warning as to what is and what isn’t acceptable to download, as well as prohibiting, instead of encouraging the use of these files.
The movie industry has had their day in court many times over the last few years with the Internet Sites over these very issues, but the companies are still up and running, no changes, disclaimers, no problem. That sends a message to the users of these sites that “everything is legal or else we wouldn’t be here still.” If laws are being broken, then take it up with the companies that are providing the service, not the end users that have no intention to violate any copyright laws and are just there to have some fun.
This is a far stretch from what is considered “Pirating”, in fact the money that the industry actually looses are from Real Pirates who make and sell quality bootleg copies of movies, not from the guy next door who has no intention of breaking any laws, if in fact any laws actually exist at all. What are we going to do about the people who have their own movies which they purchased on their computers as part of the newest home media set up? Are these people going to be labeled as “Distributors”? What if I buy a movie and show it at my own home to 20 people. Are you coming after me? I guess I have to keep in mind the immortal words of the MPAA, “You can click, but you can’t hide”, or translated into proper English, ” Big Business Is Watching You”. Now, walk the plank ye pirate.
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