UK internet companies are ordered to block access to pirate websites

As one online publication puts it, “trying to stop Internet piracy is like playing a never-ending game of whack-a-mole.” But that doesn’t stop the music and film industry giving it a fair old go.

Access in the UK to torrent websites Movie2K and Download4All will be blocked by the bigger service providers, according to the BBC, which include BT, Virgin, Talk Talk, Sky and EE. The Movie Picture Association just won a court battle on the matter, which actually strikes me as a complete waste of time. There’s already a way round the ban less than a day after it was reported (and the one on The Pirate Bay). It has been thus since the olde days of Napster.

The music and film industries are absolutely adamant that piracy has lost them millions. Maybe, but much of the evidence points to the contrary. The top 20 per cent of digital pirates actually spend three times more than the average consumer buying legal content, according to Ofcom. Small businesses (which often can’t afford the legal versions) are also notorious for illegal software.

This is not to say piracy is a good thing. Those who put huge amounts of money and effort into designing software and making music/movies should reap proportional reward for it. But the point I want to make is that banning or blocking access to pirate websites is about as futile as putting your head between your knees as the plane goes down. When Microsoft crushed Apple in the war of operating systems, Apple did something else (made and iPod). Now look who’s laughing.

I don’t mean that movie makers should give up and write poetry instead – but all they’re doing at the moment is rebuilding a sandcastle between tides. (Heavy on the metaphors, but you get my drift.)

Bottom line: innovate.

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