Haven’t they got something better to be doing?

As most of the web seems to already be aware, Elite Torrents has been shut down. I never used the site, so I can’t say I’m really too fussed, except for one thing:

Why is the Department of Homeland Security bothering to fuss around with a torrent site when they haven’t even bothered to secure their chemical and power plants from legitimate terrorist threats?

I don’t like being the kind of person who goes for the knee-jerk ‘but what about the terrorists?’ answer to everything, but if the US government is going to be arguing that terrorism is the greatest threat to their country and invading other nations (who are conveniently oil-rich) on this basis then you’d think that they might be able to set their own internal priorities on this track instead of wasting their time trying to shut down P2P networks, which in themselves may yield valuable software developments to survive in the event of a serious attack on a nation.

The internet was originally designed to be a distributed network with a high rate of redundancy (notice how I’m avoiding make post-dot com bubble jokes here) so that in the event of a nuclear strike on the US the communications networks would survive. Well, in the last few years things have become a lot less distributed with things like DNS being run from only a handful of main location, so something like P2P may be a legitimate method of thinking about new ways to use the internet for communication, or at least it may open some new and interesting avenues.

Yes, copyright theft is still theft. I own one film that was downloaded from the web. It is Chronicles of Riddick (UK link) (US link) and I saw it before it was released in the UK. I then saw it at the cinema when it was released. I then bought the US version (with extra scenes which I think are really good additions to the story) on import DVD. I wouldn’t necessarily have gone to see it at the cinema if I hadn’t already seen and enjoyed the downloaded version. I also dragged along a group of friends to see it. So… That’s a clear example of how piracy damages the movie industry, isn’t it? After all, they must have lost out if I saw a pirate version…

Sometimes giving things out for free gets you more money in the long run. IBM are moving into making a lot of their code free for people to use because they think it will help the industry and they hope to make their money back by selling tech support. There are more ways to get money from ‘free’ things than meet the eye, so maybe the film industry just needs to adapt to the times instead of fighting against them which will leave the Department of Homeland Security time to do their real job rather than scampering around behind the legs of flocks of copyright lawyers.

4 thoughts on “Haven’t they got something better to be doing?”

  1. Are you certain this was Homeland Security? Any idiot can plaster logos over their page to make themselves look like the victims of an oppressive government.

  2. Fair point, but they would have to be really very stupid to risk antognising even more US agencies. I’m pretty sure that misuse of federal insignia is a crime!

  3. Plus I’m not sure why EliteTorrent would take themselves offline for a joke. On April Fools’ Day perhaps. But that would be for a reason. And for a day. As it is, hundreds/thousands of people are having to go and pay for music and films.

  4. There’s nothing wrong with people paying for things; you should see the amount of DVDs that me and my girlfriend have between us! This said, it wouldn’t do any harm if the industry dropped its UK prices to a closer relationship with the rest of the world.

    At Christmas I was looking for a DVD box-set for a present. In the UK it was £49.99 (roughly US$90-ish) in the US it was US$49.97. Basically the US prices were nearly half the ones in the UK, and on buying it I found that it had nicer packaging too! Maybe if the prices were more reasonable then less people would be tempted to pirate things.

    I don’t go for pirate films, but it’s hard to not think that the studios are just laughing their heads off when they charge £15 for a almost-unknown black and white film made during the 1940s. I can’t imagine that a print transfer over onto DVD costs a vast amount of money, and most of the actors are probably dead anyway, so it’s not like there are big fees to pay for rereleasing the films, instead it’s just greed.

    If an industry is greedy then it’s hard to criticise the consumers if they act the same way.

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