Today, May 20th 2010, marks a sad day for all of us who remember – and grew up with – Usenet. Duke University will be forever pulling the plug on the once-popular means of communication, laying it to rest at long last. More than thirty years ago, Usenet was started by two then-students as a means to communicate between computer modems. Many say that it was the beginning of the Internet as we know it today.
Once it began, Usenet quickly grew to become an international electronic discussion forum consisting of more than 120,000 newsgroups. However, not everyone could just jump “online” using the service because connections were expensive and required a research contract with the federal Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Dietolf Ramm, professor emeritus of computer science at Duke, said that “Usenet was a pioneering effort because it allowed anybody to connect and participate communications.”
While the RIAA and MPAA may be celebrating this news due to the large amount of piracy going around Usenet, this is a sad day for the rest of us. Duke has decided to shut the service down due to rising costs of maintenance and lower volumes of people using the service. I well remember my days back on the computer before the Internet as you know it was born. I was so excited back then when I sent my first message from my computer to another. It’s a day that changed my life.
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The Motion Picture Association of America has been working hard since 2007 to bring movie piracy to a halt. Wednesday, the MPAA filed suits against three more allegedly illicit movie web sites. This brings their total number of lawsuits to 13; though somewhat of a piecemeal approach, they have been successful in combating underground trade and winning by settlement or default judgment. Even though they have been successful, illegal downloading is even more prevalent than before.
There are other ways of getting a movie, people. Here’s a few:
- Hulu.com – One of the best services to watch movies and television right on your computer. It’s legal, and it’s free. You can subscribe to shows and get email alerts when a new episode is posted.
- Fancast.com – Their byline – “Watch full TV shows and Movies FREE online!” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
- Joost.com – Wow, another FREE AND LEGAL place to watch movies and TV shows. This has a social feel to it, where you can get recommendations from others on what to watch.
- Major TV Network sites – NBC, ABC, CBS, USA, FOX… you get the idea. They have their exclusive shows you can watch right online just like the other websites.
Let me make one thing very clear – movie piracy is a CRIME, and it is punishable by law.
On Monday, President Bush signed legislation creating a new cabinet position, the Copyright Czar. This office will be charged to create, implement and enforce plans to combat piracy and reports directly to the president. In addition, the MPAA is already lobbying President-Elect Obama to embrace Internet filtering that will automatically detect and remove copyright infringing content. Internet filtering is being embraced worldwide and it will not be long before these filters are in place throughout the Internet. What does this mean? A much higher chance of getting caught red-handed. Not fair, you say? A copyright infringement lawsuit is no walk in the park – more like your worst nightmare. Because of current US laws protecting copyright owners, you could face incarceration and hefty fines if found guilty.
What about fair use? Well, this is the criteria for “fair use” – you determine how you are using the works of others:
- Is the new use of a commercial nature?
- Did the new work harm the market of the original work?
- Is the new work a parody?
- How much content of the original was used?
Basically, if you are uploading a copy of a movie or other copyrighted work to the Internet as a torrent or onto a P2P or file-sharing network, you are infringing on copyrighted content. Piracy is a big reason that legitimate consumers pay higher prices for the same product. Do you still think that is fair?
What are your thoughts about fair use of copyrighted content? If you are copying movies, why?