Tuesday, 14 April 2009

French don't fancy punishing file sharers, Fox News does

Two stories have caught my eye.

Firstly, since I'm now working from home in France, I was intrigued to read that the French National Assembly have rejected a proposal, approved by the Senate, to cut off the internet connections of those caught illegal file sharing three times. The proposed legislation would have seen offenders receiving a warning email, then a letter, before losing their access.

The Assembly argued that the proposal might have led to innocent consumers losing their web connections, should a hacker use a legitimate service to download illegally. Thus, an issue about protecting commercial rights has been overcome by concerns for individual liberties. It will be interesting to see how far similar proposals get in other European countries.

Meanwhile, film critic Roger Friedman has been forced to resign from his post as film review for Fox News in the States, after he blogged about using an illegally downloaded version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Friedman claimed it was easier to do so, rather than haul himself out to a preview screening. Unsurprisingly, both the film studio concerned and his employer saw the situation rather differently.

There's no doubt that the cultural shift towards viewing content as always free, that has penetrated deep into the psyche of youth culture, is spreading into other strata of society. However, the notion of shared public access to content, regardless of who made it and for what purpose, is going to remain a thorny issue for some time to come.  The rise of the read/write web means that many of us now produce multimedia content freely for home use. Educating our young about the entitlement of creative professionals to be able to charge for their creations is one of the challenges facing educators involved in delivering Digital Literacy programmes.

If we fail to make it clear that content can't always be free, then the future of creative industries in years to come may be rather bleaker than we would prefer.

1 comment:

Dan Felstead said...

Here in the states, there are also campaigns by the major cable companies such as ComCast to do the same thing...cot one off after being warned. Sort of 3 strikes and you're out. It hasn't been tested yet in the courts but you are right that line of free speech and copyright laws is being blurred. The digital community is now facing issues they don't know how to deal with as yet. The same dilema that the medical community has been dealing with now that science can do things that we never before imagined...the laws on the books have just not caught up with the exploding technologies.