OPINION

Curious Moves on the P2P Playing Field

A filmmaker in India believes he’s hit on the perfect DRM (Digital Restriction Management) solution: hiding secret coding in “every single print.” So suggests producer Firoz A. Nadiadwala, quoted by the Times of India.

Along with California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan has taken on a role as a Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) advance man and, according to the Times of India story, he too has recently “complained about the bane of piracy in the film industry all over the world.”

Meanwhile, however, the major movie studios are reporting eye-popping revenues in the mega-billions, their highest ever. At the same time, fronted by the MPAA, they say they’re being ruined by counterfeiters, whom they call pirates, and file sharers, whom they call thieves. They know they can’t beat P2P though — so they’re trying to enjoin it.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em

The use of P2P technologies would solve many, if not most, of their physical sales and distribution problems in a digital world, a reality it seems they’re at long last coming to accept, luring BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen to the Dark Side as their first move.

Over in India, Nadiadwala is banking on DRM saying he has “borrowed the expertise of a Los Angeles-based specialist to secret code every single print that left the film laboratory,” says the Times of India story.

Hmmm. Who could that be? And would the “secret code” be similar to the disastrous DRM spyware Sony BMG put on its music CDs? It causes one to wonder.

“If anyone duplicates a print, anywhere in the world, we will be able to catch the culprit immediately,” the story has Nadiadwala boasting.

Dream on, Mr. Nadiadwala.

Bring In the Troops

Meanwhile, the entertainment industry’s day as the Ultimate Consumer Controller is done.

Organized Music in the shape of Sony BMG, Vivendi Universal, Warner Music and EMI are trying to cram the genie back in the bottle with iMesh and Mashboxx, principally, as the stoppers. Peer Impact, pale and wan, doesn’t enter the equation.

Now the Not-So-Magnificent-Seven — Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal City Studios and, Warner Bros. Entertainment — hope to do the same, with BiTorrent as the plug, and Cohen as their dupe.

However, it’s far too little. And it’s far too late. The Big Four record labels are pinning all their hopes on the likes of Apple’s iTunes with its pitifully small (compared to what’s happening on the P2P networks) number of devoted users. But I know of at least three new allofmp3-type sites a-building, and you can bet there are others in the planning stages.

Doing Itself In

Organized Music is in fact thoroughly disorganized, doomed by its own ineptness as epitomized by the contents of a secret Australian court document, exclusively exposed by p2pnet.

In addition, for the first time, the Organized Music family is facing competition in the form of independent musicians who, thanks to the ‘Net, are making themselves effectively heard, and loudly.

The major indie P2P file sharing companies may be lawyered into compromises with the labels, but behind them are legions of developers who’ll fill any vacuums created by the forced compliance of the commercial P2P companies.

Back in the film world, Hollywood flicks costing millions of dollars to produce and featuring grotesquely overpaid “stars” have just become irrelevant.

The raging success of Finland’s “Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning” shows what a team of dedicated enthusiasts who know the ‘Net can do.

Eminently affordable, easily and quickly downloadable, and of excellent quality, digital movies made by the next wave of indie film makers, coupled with 21st century online distribution techniques, represent the kiss of death for Hollywood.

And the only ones who’ll mourn its demise will be its shareholders.


Jon Newton, a TechNewsWorld columnist, founded and runs p2pnet.net, based in Canada, a daily peer-to-peer and digital media news site focused on issues surrounding file sharing, the entertainment industry and distributed computing.


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