The perfect anti-piracy law!

anti-piracy My friend Michelle, the most famous blogger in Quebec, recently re-opened the Pandora box (text in French) about content piracy. Her case is simple: as an avid Lost fan, she simply has no legal means to watch the first 4 episodes of this season to catch up to her recorded episodes.

Another friend, Philippe Martin, tweeted about an article from France that talks about the 3 strikes law they are looking to adopt in France. In France, some suggested an amendment that propose to intervene only when the downloaded content is already available on the Internet. Interesting idea. In another tweet, Philippe points me to “Quebecor Opens Door to Canadian Three Strikes Policy”.

With the CRTC currently investigating net neutrality and being lobbied by companies such as Quebecor for a law similarly abusive than what a few countries like France want, I decided to play the role of a legislator and ask myself:

What would be the perfect anti-piracy law?

I don’t know if it’s perfect, but I think I came up with a damn good one.

Please note that to simplify the language I loosely use the term content owner. I am targeting the music and movie industry when referring to content owners.

Here’s the draft of my perfect anti-piracy law:

  • An individual can download and share digital content from any source unless:
    • the content has already been made available for download by the content owner
    • the content was never released for personal listening or viewing by the content owner
    • the content made available by the content owner is not copy protected

I haven’t talked about any coercive measures. That wasn’t the point. I wouldn’t wish for ISPs to spy on individuals. The point is that if you make content available for download through purchase (or freely with advertising), you are answering the needs of the consumer. You wouldn’t have any excuse to pirate and it would be easier to go against real pirates (those who profit from piracy).

Such a law would be progressive because it forces the music and movie industry to rethink their business model.

For example, no more region locking. If Hollywood wouldn’t make a movie available for download in Canada but would in the USA, it would be fare game for Canadians to download and share freely. It would force them to review global licensing issues.

It would also incite Canadian content owners to offer their content for download across the globe. I think it would benefit artists and everyone involved. I am confident artists would increase their royalties through increased sales.

It’s also important to allow individuals to be able to play the content the way they want to play it. To simplify things for consumers, content should not be copy protected. If I want to play my purchased movie through an iPod, the computer, an XBox, whatever, I should be able to. If I want to play a digital movie I purchased on the TV screen instead of the computer, I should be able to. Hollywood is just realizing, though the Hulu/Boxee saga that digital content can be played on the TV and want to control how users play Hulu’s content. It’s laughable since it is technologically easy to have a browser control play content on any screen, including the TV.

I also think we should force download availability as a prerequisite of content availability. Streaming-only technology put limits on the way we can play content (we need an Internet link). So, if a content is only made available through streaming, downloadable copies should be fare game to individuals.

What do you think?

What would be your perfect anti-piracy law?