Sunday, January 29, 2012

"Sounds an awful lot like a dictatorship to me."

It’s been over a week when Megaupload was crushed. All internetz rushed to express their fury and bewilderment. The whole world united to show that such action and proposed bill of SOPA in US Congress is a threat to the free internet. SOPA was postponed. Then, we all tried to alert everyone about ACTA, but sadly, I didn’t see as many ‘fighters’ as it was with SOPA (protests in some countries were admirable, but still too little). Meaning – Americans got way too ignorant about the threat and sat down complacent about their own asses. They simply labeled ACTA as ‘European thingy’. Which shows they clearly can’t either read or get the map. Since when Japan and Korea are inside the Europe? Oh that’s good, it means I’m closer to grabbing some than I previously thought. What a relief.

I’m not going to talk about ACTA here, or even its offspring – Pacific Treaty that is apparently one bitch from hell. No, I’m just here to highlight few overlooked details in this whole war. There is a quite big now thread on ongoing situation on some forum, my friend wrote a thorough article on technical aspects of filesharing so I advise you all to read that one.
We (the whole world of normal users) pointed out seemingly rational arguments that are perfectly clear to us, but some people in high places can’t seem to grasp the idea.
First of all – surveys and experts say that piracy, filesharing, you name it, doesn’t cause ‘job losses’, or profit losses for big companies. Why? It’s simple. Fandoms. Fan will buy anything that he/she loves. I am no exception. But here comes the trick that is painfully obvious to us all – how the hell we might now what to buy? We need to, no, we have to listen to it first. Usually, with American or European music (hell, even some ethnic as well), there is a solution to it – you can go to the music store and ask workers there to put the CD into testing booth. Fine, you listen to CD, you like it, you buy it. Or if you really love some artist, you can buy all albums one by one during sales (yes, I’m sometimes that clever) without checking them, basing this on sheer fact you love the artist. And the fact you just started another diet.

How we, people who are into Asian entertainment, are supposed to act then? There are no ie. DBSK albums in any store. We listen to the song via Youtube, official, fansite or any other place, we like it – we buy it to support company and pretend we support the artists. I checked SMEnt website and those graphics there showed me an interesting fact – sales and profit respectively have gone up significantly last 2 years. So this particular agency didn’t go bankrupt just because few thousands of fans downloaded SuJu horrible fifth album. Other thousands of loyal fans bought the album. Math is simple, no?
What about those people who can’t afford albums or DVDs. I know it’s hard to believe for those who never had to wear the same coat for 4 years, but there are such people. Rich and ignorant think the whole world is made of rich and ignorant, plus their housekeepers. When people have the choice – food for a week or DVD, they don’t choose the latter. It reminds me the situation when Marie Antoinette was given the report that people are hungry and have no bread. She responded: “Let them eat cake.” This is exactly the same situation now.

Buying an album or DVD with Asian content is firstly – expensive, secondly – spiked with horror thoughts (what about subtitles, will that play on my PC?). It may seem trivial, but people don’t own dozens of players to choose from to play this DVD or that one. Usually we have one PC and (if we’re lucky) TV. World is divided into DVD regions which I find utterly idiotic. People responsible for that are too obtuse to see how the world is changing, I guess. People travel, you know? I have some DVDs I’d bought in US and now I can’t play them because it’s a different region. Yes, they look nice on my shelf. Where is the problem to make a DVD multi-regional or region-free so that the whole world could enjoy?
The price of such sets is another case. Each set of Queen Seondeok was around 150$. Few of them, as drama had 62 episodes. You do the math.

They repeat it like a boring mantra that ACTA’s main target is to destroy pirates and circulation of counterfeited goods. This is such a nonsense. We will be invigilated, we will be controlled, our emails read, our google searches analyzed. Am I panicking? I don’t think so. This is all in the actual body of text. Companies and corporations have artists and their rights up their asses. All they care is just money. That’s all, dirty and mundane as it is.

Let me shed some light on copyrights protection in motion. I bet everyone here wrote in his/her life some report, thesis or maybe even article. See, funny thing is, they always, always teach us how to QUOTE properly. Meaning – how to respect someone else’s work before us. I will speak from my own perspective, if you forgive me that. Here, at my Uni we have anti-plagiarism policy. That is there is a program that checks for… wait for it… copyrights infringement in the text. Usual it is used to check bachelor and master thesis of students. Because students got lazy nowadays and they copy-paste stuff from wikipedia. Regardless of those brainless idiots, there is a proper way to avoid that. QUOTES. Research papers, articles etc. have one solution to that. We quote and put a footnote. And even if it’s not a direct quote but interpolation of it, we also give footnote and write the name of the author, his/her work, place of publishing and a year. Simple, right? Copyrights protected? Protected. 

Pic from here.

Some may argue that it’s easy with written text. No, it’s not easy. Blogs are full of rip-offs and some of their authors don’t care to give proper credits. It’s one thing if a quote is well known and it circulates among people for decades, it is then seen as common knowledge, yet we should give the name of the author of it. Everyone heard probably “One for all, all for one”? Good, but when writing some article, we should mention it was Dumas who wrote that. Not a big deal, right?
How then the rules of quoting may apply to downloading albums or movies?
Very easy, and it’s already done – no one removes the credits from DVD rips that are floating everywhere, right? We know who make the movie, its title, year of production and actors. We can buy the damn thing if we like it. But here comes a minor problem, usually overlooked. Hollywood produces such incredible amount of crap (pardon my language) and they expect us to buy a ticket to watch it and then buy a DVD of some shitty, horribly acted story? Hell no. Most of the recent ‘made in Hollywood’ movies are not even bearable to watch it once, not to mention owning a DVD and re-watching it once a month during some ritual. But if we like something, and we can spare some money, trust me, every fan will buy a DVD.

There are also other solutions easy to see and put into use, for them, read the article under the link I gave earlier, my friend is more knowledgeable in this matter than me.
How about streaming sites? I don’t mind paying for it but under one condition – the service must me good. Which means – no ads, no lagging and decent subtitles. This way, dramas could get revenue from the whole fucking world. They could even provide download service for a reasonable price. So yes, the solution (or dozens of them) is actually at hand. It’s the lack of good will and cooperation that is blocking those big shots from implementing new technology into their business.
Hello, we are living in times where artists are born via YouTube! If it wasn’t for that, Kpop would never, ever achieve such popularity now (whether it’s a fad or more stable wave, we have to wait another 10 years).

Internet is the only place to express your thoughts freely, to interact with other people, to get to know others, different cultures and aspects of those. It is chaotic, it is a place with many rogue individuals, it can be a nasty place for criminals and offenders, that’s true. But for the tumblr’s sake, it’s also a place of fun, of joy and of knowledge. It’s the course of history. Medieval people had richly ornamented tympana of cathedrals, songs and legends, we have internet. We both share the same media culture aspects. They can’t take that from us. And for Korea – that would be Hallyu suicide.

Why ACTA is truly terrifying thing it’s not because of its ‘mission to protect the poor artists’, but because it tightens the grip on societies. Those in high places want to rule people in almost a dictatorship-like fashion. Dictatorships don’t last long, people can revolt. And when they do, the heads will roll (also the title of Echo and the Bunnymen’s song, honorable mention).
I know this article doesn’t actually give anything new to the ongoing farce that the situation has become. But I find it as my duty to write this. To express I’m not pleased (oh euphemism, I love thee so) with politicians’ plans to rule us all, (…) to bring us all and in the darkness bind us. (changed after: J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, Harper Collins, 1994).

* "Sounds an awful lot like a dictatorship to me". - Padme Amidala, Attack of the Crap Clones.