FilmOn owner Alki David and a coalition of recording artists are currently engaged in a copyright infringement battle with CBS, CNET and Download.com. Speaking with TorrentFreak the billionaire businessman says that despite targeting the distribution of BitTorrent clients he is actually grateful for file-sharing. Torrent client creators can go about their business, David says, as long as they don’t promote their software for infringing uses. He also reveals his own BitTorrent piracy solution.
Earlier this week we posted the latest update on the copyright infringement lawsuit from Alki David and a coalition of recording artists against CNET and owner CBS.
The lawsuit claims that CNET’s Download.com distributed file-sharing software including uTorrent and LimeWire after they “shameless promoted” the tools for infringing uses. This week the coalition – Sugar Hill Music, et al – filed a motion for preliminary injunction that if granted would stop Download.com from continuing to distribute BitTorrent software.
But despite this aggressive action that could potentially put an end to Download.com’s streak of 65 million BitTorrent client downloads to its customers, Alki David says that he is actually grateful for file-sharing services.
Speaking with TorrentFreak the FilmOn owner said that he uses locker services such as YouSendIt for transferring edits and reviewing shows his company is working on. P2P networks, he says, also have their place.
“There is a future still for effective load balanced distribution using P2P networks without a doubt,” he explains. “I also think there is a future for live distribution of video on P2P networks.”
But of course, David’s lawsuit against Download.com has the potential to hurt a service that has done much to spread file-sharing software around the world, which in turn has assisted with its growth and development. Might a win over CNET and Download.com have a negative overall effect for P2P technologies?
“Other sites will pop up and good luck to them. The Internet is a small place and easy to navigate. However, Viacom’s CNET and its partner sites are on the one hand perpetuating file-sharing for their own gain whilst throwing the entertainment, software and literary world under the bus,” David explains.
“Viacom is the same company that lobbied for SOPA and arrests, sues and fines kids like Joel Tenenbaum hundreds of thousand of dollars for downloading a handful of songs. The same people who want to have Richard O’Dwyer extradited from the UK for doing something that in the UK is not illegal!
“Viacom is the same company that paid millions of dollars to companies like Media Defender and Artists Direct to monitor and police file-sharing whilst these companies profited from porn sites being exposed to young kids looking for other types of content,” David adds.
One thing we wanted clear up with David was a statement in this week’s motion that predicted that torrent client creators might “soon” be held secondarily liable for infringement. We asked, could that really happen as long as torrent clients aren’t promoted for infringing uses?
“I do NOT think that torrent makers should be held liable.They can distribute but not promote the illegal use of their software. Herein lies the problem. You cannot sell guns and tell people the best way to use them to kill people,” says David.
“This is the fundamental truth the judge realized. That there is not freedom of speech when you coerce people to act illegally and then help them to do so.” (see earlier ruling)
But while the battle against CBS continues, so do millions of unauthorized BitTorrent downloads, whether Download.com supplied the software or not. What does David think about, for example, The Pirate Bay, a site that he says operates with a “socio economic socio political agenda” ?
“Fine… do your thing bro. But don’t be like CNET which is to vacillate between the camps like a hooker selling herself and the entertainment world to the highest bidder. That is lies and deceit. A company as powerful as Viacom needs to be checked otherwise we really start to live the Orwellian nightmare,” David says.
So considering the huge popularity of sites such as The Pirate Bay, how can Big Media move forward in the digital age viewed through the prism of massive online file-sharing?
“I believe that music, movies and software et al is going to continue fragmenting and more people will get a shot at making entertainment for smaller margins and greater choice. I mean it’s already happened really,” David explains.
“There will be the exception of the big tentpole extravaganza but that is a highly specialized and very expensive game. There are models out there today… the free TV model…. the free movie model…. subsidized by sponsors and advertisers.”
“Torrents are a great method of distribution,” David says, while reminding us again that CBS need to pay for what he describes as their “hypocrisy.”
Finally, it seems appropriate that when speaking to a billionaire one should ask him a billion-dollar-question. So, given a magic wand, how would David solve the piracy dilemma – try to crush torrent sites like The Pirate Bay, or take a different approach?
“I would send the ISP of the websites an invoice for a small fee (say 5 dollars) for each torrent download to give to the rights holders. The ISP would have to collect from the customer or pay it themselves,” David concludes.