The owner of isoHunt is currently dealing with the copyright industry in the BC Supreme Court fighting off 26 major record labels. The site has recently argued that the biggest threat to innovation and freedom of expression is the copyright industry itself. And he’s right.
First of all, it is important to understand that isoHunt did not host any copyrighted material but is really a search engine that indexes .torrent files. isoHunt has never itself hosted any content that is infringing copyright. Linking should not be a crime. In this context, isoHunt isn’t any different that Google. isoHunt has never run a tracker.
“Freedom of expression on the Internet is under attack. From SOPA in the US, ACTA internationally, and C-11 in Canada, the same theme is apparent on the agenda of copyright industry groups: instead of dealing with actual copyright violators, they want to shut down technologies and internet services that they say will be used by violators,”
The history of the music and movie industry’s opposition and demonization of technology goes back many many years and is psychotically repetitive.
Starting first with the Player Piano complaints from the music industry pushed the 1909 Copyright Act in the US. Managers and musicians were fearing that the new technology would replace musicians that were playing in bars and restaurants and all the musicians would be out of work. Instead the piano rolls gave rise to other ‘printed’ forms of playable music that the industry could sell at a large profit like vinyl records.
Then came the attacks from the movie industry against the Betamax and the VCR. Instead of learning how the industry could benefit from this new technology and harness it to create a completely new and large revenue stream the copyright holders fought against the technology tooth and nail. In typical industry close-minded fashion Motion Picture Association of America president and luddite Jack Valenti is famously quoted as saying:
“I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.”
In the very least I find this statement tactless, especially considering that it was provided at a congressional panel, but it is most of all the best way of stating how the industries deal with new technology. Let’s not forget that the home video market is extremely huge and has propped up the movie industry’s profits for decades.
So are we really surprised that copyright holders are going after the current distribution models that the internet provides rather than embracing them in a way that will generate profit? Nope, not really.