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From Cnet News:
Continuing its war on Internet file-swapping sites, the Motion Picture Association of America said Thursday that it has filed lawsuits against a half-dozen hubs for TV show trading.
The trade association said that piracy of TV programming is growing quickly online, and that shows are as important to protect as big-budget films. This is the first legal action from the group that has focused most heavily on TV content.
"Every television series depends on other markets (such as) syndication and international sales to earn back the enormous investment required to produce the comedies and dramas we all enjoy," MPAA Chief Executive Officer Dan Glickman said in a statement. "Those markets are substantially hurt when that content is stolen."
The latest round of suits retains a focus on BitTorrent technology, which has been widely used online to distribute movies and films.
The suits are focused on the sites that serve as traffic directors for BitTorrent swaps, rather than on individual computer users uploading and downloading content. The MPAA also has sued individuals, but has not said how many people have been targeted.
The six sites sued Thursday include ShunTV, Zonatracker, Btefnet, Scifi-Classics, CDDVDHeaven and Bragginrights.
I find this quite amusing. The genie is well and truly out of the bottle as far as data transfer goes, and the MPAA seems to be content to repeat all of the RIAA's mistakes. With the spread of broadband connections throughout the United States and, indeed, the world, it is simply inevitable that a sizeable number of people are going to change their media consumption habits to better take advantage of the new opportunities that the internet offers.
For those who don't know, Bit Torrent is, to date, the best and most efficient peer-to-peer (p2p) system. Unlike other p2p programs, from Napster (in its original form) to Audiogalaxy to Soulseek to all of the others, Bit Torrent does not simply connect you one-to-one. It hooks you into a network of people who are after the same file and has you uploading and downloading simultaneously, thus allowing very fast download speeds, so that entire hour-long tv shows (well, 42 minutes, as the ads are shorn out) can be downloaded at very high speeds. It is a remarkably efficient system, and the problem for the MPAA is that it is too efficient to be smacked down. Over the last year an increasing number of BT sites have been shut, yet, because it is so decentralized, it has never made anything more than a temporary dent in the overall health of torrent-related file-swapping.
With this highly efficient technology there is no longer any particular reason for people to sit down at an arbitrarily decided time of the week to watch a television show. If I miss a show that I want to watch, and I have the technology, why can't I download it and view it at my convenience? Saying, "that's not how it works!" is a cop-out, because these major media conglomerates have been pushing broadband and the internet for years (plus their shows are already paid for by advertising)...they shouldn't be shocked that people choose to make the best use of it.
If they were really smart, instead of going after Bit Torrent sites, they would simply set up their own subscription services, with guaranteed high speeds. I'd happily pay a dollar or two a week to get a high quality version of new episodes of, say, Lost, and judging by the success of iTunes, there are lots of other people out there who are happy to pay for digital content if it is guaranteed quality.