Hardcore geeks, alcohol, and… copyright violations?

My favorite thing on the Internets today (aside from Stallman’s tinfoil-hat rant about cloud computing being evil, which I’ll get to later) is this video of the Mythbusters crew researching sobering-up techniques.

When you’re done laughing, think about the first part of that. A member of the media (admittedly, a pretty irreverent one,) showed a roomful of people the illegal content on his hard drive. And they cracked up.

Copyright violation is so widespread and commonplace, it’s socially acceptable–even encouraged–despite the fear-mongering trailers on many DVDs.

I use Hulu in the US, and it’s so much better than trolling through torrents. I don’t mind the ads. I’d tell them more about myself so they could better target me.

And yet the various copyright holders are jostling for position, arguing about who owns what where. Canadians get this:

Hulu explains that it’s the complexity of licensing that prevents the site from serving content outside the U.S.

Elsewhere, national TV channels are entering the game. In the U.K., the BBC has been an early adopter of digitization. Their TV programming is backed by revenues from a television license, but they haven’t opened up the content to outsiders.

Oh, and their state-made content doesn’t suck.

CBC is far behind the UK, with embedded video in web pages and little else, hardly a set-top friendly solution. Our online TV is the spiritual grandchild of those who green-lighted The Littlest Hobo and the Beachcombers. But at least it’s a start.

Another Canadian network, CTV, has started putting shows online also. They still have some kinks to work out, and they haven’t solved interstitial advertising, so shows pop out of fullscreen to show ads. Canadian sites seem to lack the usability of a Hulu or a Move Networks.

But networks are working on it. And so is everyone else. For movies, Netflix and Zip are working on efficient downloads to desktops, Roku devices, AppleTVs and more.

Copyrights are at best a leaky sieve, an anachronism from the days when it was hard to make copies of something. Digital content and global Internet means the rules need to change, and it’s sad to watch copyright holders argue over content they no longer control anyway rather than making money from them in new ways.

Copyright violations are a punchline. Time to find new ways to make money.

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