That number had 35,000 hits on google yesterday.
It has 350,000 today. It's already on my blog. It's on countless others no doubt. It's on homepages, it's on boingboing, It's on countless ytmnds. No doubts it's being twittered. There's a facebook group. Hell it's probably got a myspace page. That a society speaking.
I know this is a skeptical blog. About bad science and silly religions. But I think Skeptical means it can extend into free speech and the media.
So I'm going to talk about that number. And no, I'm not a fucking pirate.
And I'm going to do something stupid. I'm going to do an analogy.
An analogy about cars.
I'm a fucking fool.
But hopefully avoiding getting into the "but you wouldn't steal a car" nonsense piracy debate. This is about the media industries perceptions.
There are three stereotypes for car users.
1) The largest group is "The average joe" who buys a standard car, takes it to the shop to be repaired and doesn't think much about it.
2) A much smaller group is the "The hideous thief" who uses his technical knowledge of cars to steal them - which is different to copying media remember
3) The guy who buys a car, and fiddles with it, makes it run on a different engine, replaces the wheels, the suspension, the bodywork. Pimps it. Improves it. Changes it. Joins groups of like minded people who also love this true ownership of their cars. They work together to improve and modify. Sharing ideas and methods.
Now, nobody would say that because people use technology to steal cars. IR door openers. Jimmy sticks, hotwiring, that owner number 3 should be stopped from playing. No one can stop Number 3 from improving his car. You can't claim copyright on the bonnet and stop him from painting fire stripes on it. Or claim that he can't mess with the exhaust, or sparkplugs.
The movie industry see consumers the same way.
1) The average joe.
2) The pirate - who is different to a thief - but thats a different debate, and we can all agree that not supporting the developer of an IP you consume and enjoy is very bad and leave it at that.
3) The fringe. who want to watch films from a different region that haven't been released in theirs. Who want to timeshift, want it to run on linux, their homemade myth tv box, want to make funny trailers as though film x was actually genre y. Wants to put it in his class presentation. Wants to rip it to their hard-drive to take on holiday. Want to satirize, want to inform, want to make a funny gif. Want to screen grab for their blogs review. Want to screen grab so they can write "THIS IS SPARTA!!!!"on it in a big font and use it on a forum.
But like the car industry they cant ban #3 just because #2 exist!
The existence of pirates should not - and cannot stop the fair use of material
Regardless of what the law says, nothing I listed in 3) is wrong - you should be able to do all those things. And a good citizen shouldn't refrain from doing it - just because a law says you cant. They should shout. They should complain. And they should be disobedient.
And crucially in our day and age - more people fit into section 3 than is realized. I think the older generation miss this shocking fact. Unlike the car industry most people, at least young people, are in #3.
It's my 60 year old mum wanting to watch an American DVD. It's my professor wanting to put his bought itunes on his non-ipod. It's an early adopter wanting to actually use his 'outdated' HDTV. It's my dad not wanting to leave his genuine cds in the car. It's my grandma wanting to tape a tv show to watch at a later date. It's a Linux user wanting support they won't provide. It's a lecturer wanting to add a clip of a film they are discussing into a presentation.
That list is not a list of criminals. It's real people living a real life.
But bring this up and their argument in return seems to be. "That all well and good - but I think you are a pirate, and you're using fair use as an excuse." - which we are fucking not.
So don't be a pirate, but use your media, own your media.
We live in a world where taking a clip of a film, and changing the music, and editing the characters, is a feasible way to comment on the film. Even if it's just to ridicule it.
That makes the world a more colourful, better place.
It isn't wrong.
That number gives people back the rights they should have from the start.