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Industry Experts Discuss Piracy Remedies

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WASHINGTON July 1, 2010- Speaking at the Department of Commerce today, an expert observed that consumers who view streaming video on pay-only sites are “unwittingly giving their credit card numbers to organized crime.” The speaker, Scott Martin of the Motion Picture Association of America, made the comment in the context of a panel entitled “Emerging Infringement Areas,” which was moderated by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Anna Gomez.

One constant theme which Martin and his other panelists discussed was the lack of a “silver bullet” to solve the problem of illegal file-sharing. One reason for this problem, according to Martin, is that file-sharing of different resources takes different forms, and not all forms of file-sharing can be combated the same way.

“One mistake I think often gets made is that content gets lumped together, as if the problems for music are the same as for film,” Martin said.

Another issue, which was highlighted by panelist Harlan Yu of Princeton University, was the so-called “whack-a-mole” problem, so-named because of the tendency for copyright enforcement to actually encourage more diverse methods of file-sharing. Discussing how these providers of illegal services proliferate, Yu said, “You whack nine down and fifty more sprout up, and most of these providers are offshore, where Copyright laws are less strict.”

Continuing on this theme of foreign technology/norms impeding US copyright enforcement, Ken Doroshow of the Entertainment Software Association, said that one of the key problems in stopping video game piracy was the proliferation of technology which, while illegal in the US, is sold as a “legitimate product” in neighbor countries like Canada.

Still, according to Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, who gave the introductory remarks, there was some cause for hope, as piracy had not halted legal, paid transfers of copyrighted information. “Sales of digital music downloads cleared some 3 billion dollars in 2009, a 19% increase over the levels in 2008,” Locke said.

Mytheos Holt recently graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Government and History, receiving high honors in Government. He served as a weekly columnist at the Wesleyan Argus, Wesleyan University's campus-wide newspaper, and founded the Wesleyan Witness political commentary magazine. He is originally from Big Sur, Calif., and currently resides in Washington, D.C.

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