Student Fined For Providing Free Film And TV Subtitles; Yet Another Business Opportunity Thrown Away By Copyright Industries
from the cutting-nose-off-to-spite-the-face dept
A student who ran a site which enabled the download of a million movie and TV show subtitle files has been found guilty of copyright infringement offenses. Despite it being acknowledged that the 25-year-old made no money from the three-year-old operation, prosecutors demanded a jail sentence. After struggling due to a lack of case law, in the end the court settle on a fine.
Note that no money changed hands, and there was no attempt to copy the work of others in any way. Instead, the student was simply meeting an evident need for Norwegian subtitles that the original creators and distributors of those films and TV shows didn’t address.
So wouldn’t the rational thing have been to embrace what this person was doing, and turn it into a commercial opportunity for both him and the studios? That way, the Norwegian public would be happy, because they would have official subtitles that they could use; the Norwegian distributors would be happy, because they could offer English-language shows; and the original producers would be happy, since they would be selling more of their films and TV shows to the Norwegian market, and sooner.
Instead, out of sheer vindictiveness it would seem, charges were pressed, and a jail sentence was “demanded”. It’s telling that no custodial sentence was in fact handed down, because the infringement was so minor, and the judge simply couldn’t find any justification for doing so. That’s a further hint that prosecuting this non-commercial activity was completely inappropriate.
But as TorrentFreak explains, it wasn’t money that the studios were interested in, but something else — keeping control:
Although relatively rare, US movie and TV studios have taken legal action against subtitling sites before. The reason they appear to get so annoyed by the existence of these sites is that they allow people abroad to watch movies and TV shows that due to licensing issues haven’t even arrived on their shores yet.
In other words, rather than adapt their business models to the changing times through simultaneous releases around the world, the copyright industries prefer to wield the blunt instrument of enforcement, however counterproductive that may be for everyone — including themselves.