After the FBI shut down megaupload.com, I read many reactions calling it “censorship” or “attack against people’s freedom”. I can understand people’s frustration, loosing a “legal” way to download series/movies without paying (In many countries, downloading pirate copies is not illegal. Only sharing/providing pirate copies is, making therefore torrents illegal). But I still have difficulties to see how preventing people from watching illegal copies of a movie/serie could be assimilated to a form of censorship. If it is, then it would mean that wearing a fake rolex or having a fake Louis Vuiton bag is a way to convey a message. Message that everybody should have the right to share… Mmmmmhhh….
I used megaupload at work, to transfer pictures/layouts to colleagues abroad. But let’s be honest, before it was seized, this website was more famous for holding illegal content and it was extremely easy to find websites and forums providing links to recent movies or series, all stored on megaupload. Megaupload was even making money with it, by offering subscription allowing users to watch the content of those links without delay and with a better bandwidth. Reading a few articles on Kim Schmitz “Dotcom” usually confirms the impression that he knew exactly what he was doing.
But the big question then is “why did people subscribed to megaupload instead of paying for the series directly”?. We could talk about the difference of price (a subscription to megaupload was cheaper than buying series/movies legally) but the reality is that it is frequently impossible for non-american to officially obtain the last episode of a series, at the same time that an american do. For example, an American user can buy and download on iTunes USA the last season (5) of “The Big Bang Theory” for 44.99USD (or 2.99USD per episode). But a French user only have access to the first three seasons. Moreover, assuming that this French user wants to buy it on iTunes USA, he won’t be able to do it without having an american credit card and an address in the US. He also can’t order the DVD at the end of the season , because of the zone restriction. Of course, they are some hidden ways, using vouchers but it remains too complicated for most of the users (especially if you have no friends in the US).
I strongly believe that if the movie industry was putting more effort into providing series and movies worldwide, for a decent price, people would be less tempted to download them illegally or to subscribe to pseudo-legal offers like those provided by megaupload. I paid 34.99USD for the season 2 of “Suits” on iTunes USA. iTunes France doesn’t have it and iTunes Switzerland doesn’t even provide series…
Maybe the censorship here is not to (strongly) remind people that pirate copies are illegal but to prevent those same people from officially buying movies and series, simply because they don’t live in the right country.
13 January 2012: Snow storm in Munich, Germany. I’m currently having a big break. But I have a few photo projects in mind and hope to start taking pictures a bit more seriously in Spain in the coming weeks.