Words Not Actions

Words Not Actions
When analyzing the anti-infringement activities of the content owning industries (RIAA, MPAA, etc.) it is often far more interesting to focus on the results of what they do, rather than the rhetoric they employ.  While Hollywood executives love to harshly criticize unauthorized distribution of their movies, very frequently they do things that in fact contribute to such activity, as I have outlined previously.  The well-publicized recent campaign by US authorities to seize the domain names of suspected infringing sites, pushed vigorously by the content owners, neatly presents a case where words and actions are deeply contradictory.

As nearly every analysis of the recent ICE action has noted, by seizing the US registered domain names of foreign-owned and operated sites, the authorities have propelled the sites to set up on domains not under US control, and to do so within days, if not hours, of the seizures.  Rojadirecta quickly went from a .com to an .es address and atdhe.net very rapidly became atdhe.me, with all the same streams and functionality.  It would appear that aside from a very momentary interruption, the practical effect of the seizures will be negligible, except to make any future actions by rights holders that much more difficult, since the targeted sites will be farther from US jurisdiction.

Additionally, and even more importantly, the recent ICE domain seizures that focused on sports streaming sites has had, and will continue to have, the effect of generating more publicity for this kind of infringing.  Consistent with the concept of the “Streisand Effect,” attempts to suppress troublesome information online result invariably in that information becoming even more widely distributed.  While impossible to quantify with any certainty, the seizures by ICE surely increased awareness of the existence of rojadirecta and atdhe, and even more, of the ease in which viewers can access live streaming of sporting events online.  As we so often see in articles about “cord-cutting,” or dropping cable in favor of purely internet video delivery, many people are stymied by the lack of live sports online, yet now, because of the actions of ICE, millions more viewers have just been instructed that it is actually quite simple to get live footage of every soccer match or football game.

It defies logic to think that the seizures could have had any other outcome.  Yet the major content owners and their representatives in government continue to pursue strategies that inevitably result in more of the infringement they so assiduously decry.  Is it incompetence or something else that drives such misguided actions, because from an outside observer it is hard to reconcile what they say with what they do.