|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a Bangor facility so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
France, throughout history, has been responsible for a great many fine things. Champagne, Impressionist Art, gourmet cuisine, the fork. You have to respect a nation that dreamed up the fork. Table manners were vastly improved due to the invention of the fork.
According to a report I heard the other day, France is the leader in yet arena; evidently, they are the leaders in Internet piracy. Now, they are not hijacking ships and holding people for ransom or stealing pieces of eight or anything that nasty, but it seems that they are crazy for downloading music and movies. People in France download more copywrited music and movies than any other people on earth. No one seems to have any theories on why that is; there are no sociologists or psychologists with papers on the phenomenon that I know of, and no one in the report was willing to put forth any theories or make any suggestions as to why the French are such downloading fools. It's interesting.
Apparently, the French government is rather upset about this peculiar distinction in their country and are attacking the problem aggressively. It seems that they have established a government agency that has been given broad powers to stop Internet piracy of protected material. The main focus is music and movies because the French downloaded 11 billion songs last year and 500,000 movies in a single month. Yikes.
This agency has the power to monitor all internet activity on all computers in France. If you have a computer and access to the internet, you must register your IP address with the government or risk having your computer confiscated. It's sort of like registering your car. If you get caught driving it without a registration you are in big trouble with someone. Maybe lots of someones. It seems that the agency will have the technology to intercept and monitor all illegal downloads. They did not elaborate on the details of this technology, but I find it hard to believe that within days some 13 year olds won't have half a dozen clever ways to get around it. It seems like a system fraught with wormholes to me.
The new laws are as follows: If you are caught downloading music or movies illegally you will get a warning the first time. The second time you do it you get a fine. The third time you do it, assuming that you are daring enough to try, you will be banned from the internet. I'm not certain exactly how they will do this. Does your name go on some internet terrorist list or something? Is your IP address marked as a convicted felon? What happens if you just get another computer that changes your IP address and go to some cafe where they have WiFi? It's confusing.
Naturally enough, being the rabid internet pirates that they are, the French people are up in arms about this new agency with the power to deprive them of the word wide web. The gentleman in charge of it is named Aubernelle, or something like that, and there is already graffiti popping up on bridges and in back alleys in Paris that refer to him as “Darth Aubernelle” Obviously, the internet pirates view him as the epitome of imperialist evil, who will goosestep with his internet stormtroopers around France to strike terror in the hearts of freedom loving citizens. Some particularly angry group has already burned him in effigy in Paris. Since no one seems to actually know what he looks like, they just got a Darth Vader outfit, stuffed it with straw, and burned it on a stick.
The general feeling amongst the populace is that these new laws deprive them of their constitutional rights. I'm no expert on the French constitution, but I'm willing to bet that it doesn't have an amendment giving people the right to steal property protected by copywrite or one that makes web piracy an inalienable right. Maybe I'm wrong about that. There are some strange stuff in constitutions everywhere, and people everywhere like to give them pretty liberal interpretations depending on their personal beef.
In defense of those individuals who feel the need to pirate music, when was the last time you bought a CD that had more than one or two decent songs on it? In the old days you could by a Beatles, Frank Sinatra, or Smokey Robinson album and be pretty confident that you would enjoy most of the songs. Nowadays you buy a CD for one hit song and hope that the rest of it isn't total garbage. They should start releasing singles again and give up on trying to produce an entire CD of decent music. Hardly anyone is any good at it any more. Besides, it only costs 16 cents to make a CD.
Movies aren't much better. Most of them are pretty mediocre and a lot of them are just bad. Big time actors get paid obscene amounts of money to appear on camera for five minutes with a bunch of CGI characters that are better actors than they are, and then sit around in a luxurious trailer for a couple of hours eating free food and talking with their agents on cell phones. If a movie is really good most people will pay the money to go see it on the big screen or wait until it comes out on DVD and rent or buy it. Pirated movies are frequently lousy resolution, but who needs to watch a teen or college party movie and see it in high definition with surround sound? In the end, it kind of comes down to whether or not you want to be robbed at the box office and music store, or do the robbing yourself. It is a modern world moral dilemma and each side believes that they are holding the high ground. Some of us, like me, couldn't care less. It seems pretty silly considering the horrible things going on in the world. Personally, I can use one less moral dilemma.