Acquisition May be a PR Solution

Over the past several years in the file-sharing timeline, one thing has remained a constant ever since Napster was brought to the mainstream.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

The entertainment industry has declared war on file-sharing, screaming about its copyrights being violated. When Napster was shut down, it seemed to spark an evolution not just with the technology itself, but with opinion on the very concept of copyright.

Since then, nearly 22,000 lawsuits have been launched against users throughout the United States. The reasoning is typically to make an example of the evils of copyright infringement. However it appears the opposite has occurred, as more and more people are simply upset at the copyright industry. Yet the pattern that is seen is that the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is leading the way into lawsuit charge with the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) following suit to a certain extent.

Somewhere along the way, developments started occurring. One of these developments happened when the MPAA and BitTorrent, Inc. reached an ‘understanding’. Compared to the lawsuits, public outrage was brief. Was it because fewer people use the mainline client? Maybe. Sometime later, Azureus introduced a content layer for Hollywood. While Azureus is more popular than the mainline client, uTorrent appears to be the BitTorrent king. Public outrage, again, was brief. Many thought that using uTorrent wasn’t a problem anyway and this gave them all the more reason to use it. That was until uTorrent was acquired by BitTorrent, Inc. Outrage was greater, but again, fairly brief. Some wondered if they should stop using uTorrent altogether thanks to the development and a few did out of paranoia, justified or not.

Since then, Hollywood and the recording industry’s attention for BitTorrent have been on the technology itself and not the clients. The most high profile cases come out of Universities blocking the protocol. Then there’s MySpace, the popular social networking site. At first, the RIAA attacked it for being a piracy haven and it quickly became a new antipiracy target. Then Fox Entertainment bought the website – and the RIAA has since become much more silent on the issue.

One thing has remained constant throughout all these cases, short of face lifts and bug fixes; little has changed out of all these clients aside from the implementation of capabilities to carry DRM (Digital rights Management) content. To this day, public outrage is more focused on their lawsuits than their acquisitions on the P2P front. The only website that is being lashed out at is the popular video sharing site YouTube which is currently owned by Google. The only thing evident in this case is the copyright industries lack of control over Google.

This pattern makes one wonder, is it much easier on the PR front to acquire and maintain the status quo than it is to make high profile lawsuits? It may look like a war between people and the copyright industry when it comes to lawsuits, but when it comes to these lesser known acquisitions, it is more like a well calculated quiet strategy game.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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