On the Futility of Fighting Online Pirates
Their argument is rooted, ironically, in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act that U.S. lawmakers approved in 1998. The Alluc.org kids, as well as the operators of most sites that let users upload content, argue that they’re not violating copyright law if they’re not the ones putting it up and if they take it down at the copyright holder’s request. It’s the same argument Google is making in its YouTube case.
But there are more practical reasons that sites like Alluc.org get away with what they’re doing. One is that there are simply too many of them to keep track of. Media companies’ lawyers rarely have time to police so many obscure sites, and even when they do, users can always upload the infringing files again. So the flow of copyrighted streaming video continues.
Not every scheme to evade intellectual property laws is so subtle. The music-selling site AllofMP3.com uses a simpler business model: Base your company in Russia, steal music from American labels and sell it cheaply. AllofMP3 allows users to download full albums for as little as $1 each—10% of what they would cost on iTunes. From June to October 2006 alone, the Recording Industry Association of America says that 11 million songs were downloaded from the site. AllofMP3 claims those sales adhered strictly to Russian law, but that doesn’t satisfy the RIAA; the record labels have launched a lawsuit, asking for $150,000 for each stolen file, totaling $1.65 trillion.