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1.27.2008

TV-Links and DRM

I try to stay away from political issues here, but this is just ridiculous and has severe implications for us as media producers and media consumers.

I utilized the incredible (free) service that TV-Links offered before it was shut down. TV-Links included links to and embedded video files from various sites around the world that had pirated content on them (most notably Google). This allowed us English speakers to watch movies that were hosted in China because it told us what the films were in a language we could read. The quality wasn't great, but if I just felt like watching a flick it was awesome! Sure, I didn't watch all of Transfomers because the only thing about that movie was the special effects and those didn't come through so hot at 25Mbs.

The issue of "piracy" is too big to get into here (and DRM is plain ridiculous as many people have noted far more eloquently than I could). The real issue is web-based media distribution and consumption.

Is it illegal to link to other sites? If so, this blog post has already committed several infringements to the law. But FACT seems to think that it is. As Rich [NB: He swears] over at The New Freedom blog points out, "This effectively makes the entire internet illegal."

He's absolutely right.

Now, to be fair, I don't think people should be making copies of DVDs to give to their friends, and they certainly shouldn't be selling them. In fact, I'm even okay with stopping "piracy" online. But, seriously, TV-Links did not "pirate" anything. If anything, that should have been the site that was hailed as the heroes of the anti-"piracy" police. Why? Because that site listed in detail exactly where "pirated" material was being hosted. In other words: TV-Links was the number one resource that could have been used to bring the "bad guys" down.

I love Google. I think Google is great (and I'm typing this blog from Blogger). But in this whole mess, Google is one (or, more accurately, two) of the "bad guys". Guess whose servers didn't get raided? Guess who didn't get thrown in jail?

Why? Because Google will win the argument because they have the money.

So who do these pesky DRM people go after? Moderately small nobodies who weren't doing anything illegal (and I hope it stays legal to link to things on the internet).

If this has you indignant and you wish there was something you can do, there is one thing worth trying: You can sign a very poorly constructed petition asking for the release of TV-Links' founder (I think he was the founder) and the reinstatement of the website. Do I think this will do anything for real? No, but it is a way of seeing how many people out there have their heads on straight (I was petition 8037).

Okay, I didn't mean to rant. And if you have a counter to any of these points, I would love to hear them. Please, let's not forget that some really dumb things are being done around us, and may we have the wisdom to choose our battles wisely and fight them well. ...but just to be safe: You'd better not link to this blog, just in case others haven't learned the lesson of McCarthyism yet.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

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