Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on April 9th, 2009

Can The Pirates Be Stopped?

Who knew pirates were going to make such a big comeback?! Did they ever go away? They’ve always been a popular costume idea for halloween, and the topic for many good Disney movies. Every little boy in America has confidently proclaimed his intent at a career in piracy at least once during their childhood. But most don’t follow through, at least not with their original fantasy in mind. Real pirates are causing quite a stir in the international community, and I’m not talking about the ones from Somalia. Digital piracy is inflicting extraordinary damage to many industries with only grim projections to come.

The spark that lit the barn hit the hay last week when a pirated copy of the unreleased movie “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” popped up online. Federal legislators and entertainment executives are projecting a deteriorating situation in which $20 billion annually in copyrighted movies, music and other entertainment is being lost to global piracy networks that are tolerated and encouraged by countries like China, Russia, India, and even Canada. Legislation is being considered to elevate the attention given to foreign piracy. No specifics are being offered, and many feel that it will get very controversial. Many efforts in the past by entertainment executives and others have failed to slow the illegal sale of copyrighted material in an increasingly wireless world.

Laws and measures that would help stem the illegal sales of copyrighted materials are being developed with some proposing that the entertainment industry be deputized to solve their own problems. The process would be similar to a model that is being tried in France. Said model has been described as a plan under which those who believe their material has been stolen will ask an Internet service provider to send successive warnings to an illegal downloader. If the warnings fail, the downloader might be barred from using the provider for a period of time, or be permanently blocked. To pass similar laws in the United States will be very tricky.

Piracy is nothing new. It's been one of our species' most feared and celebrated bad boy pastimes for centuries. It comes as no surprise that the dark lifestyle has branched off with technology. This is a very controversial topic that bears much debate. What information should be free? How much should the creator of the copyrighted material receive for their talents, as well as their producers? This a huge elephant in the room for any artist, entertainer, and brand, as well as for any business. What do you consider your businesses' copyrighted material? Is it already protected? Domains, taglines, slogan, logo, vision, and mission statements are all trademarked? In this dawning of a new, flat world, it is crucial that your creative property is protected from the online pirates. It doesn’t take an eye patch and a parrot to rip off your big idea anymore... just a computer and a connection.

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