Does Faster Internet Access Lure Piracy?

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Hollywood's piracy schtick might be getting a little old. Not only does the movie industry continue to create less-than-impressive relationships with its audience by suing the pants off alleged file-sharers, now it's worried that faster Internet download speeds will enable piracy.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)'s concern is Google Fiber, Google's high-speed fiber-optic broadband that the company is currently deploying in Kansas City.

Google has already laid down more than 100 miles of Fiber in Kansas City, which was chosen last year as the first city to house Google's experimental 1-gigabit-per-second network. Google plans to connect the first homes to its Fiber network in the next few months, Google Fiber spokesperson Jenna Wandres told Bloomberg Businessweek.

According to Google, its Fiber test network of approximately 850 homes in Palo Alto already offers download speeds of 922 megabits per second, so Kansas City residents should be really, really excited. The average Internet speed in the United States hovers around 5 mbps. Google plans to offer its Fiber network at competitive prices, as well.

So why is Hollywood concerned? Well, because faster download speeds can only mean one thing -- pirates will be able to download content even faster. With Google Fiber's purported download speeds, pirates will be able to download an entire DVD's worth of content in less than one minute.

MPAA spokesperson Howard Gantman told Bloomberg that although Google Fiber "could be a great opportunity for consumers whose access to creative content is often hampered by slow speeds," we should look to the example of South Korea, in which "the home entertainment marketplace was decimated by digital piracy," which was enabled by speedy Internet.

Of course, TechDirt points out that South Korea is a bad example -- because the Korean music industry "thrives on high-speed Internet," and it "grew into an economic powerhouse while the country had some of the highest and earliest broadband penetration rates (and digital piracy rates) in the world."

Gantman also spoke to Ars Technica, saying, "We want to reinforce that higher speeds could be a great opportunity for consumers, and that's the bottom line." But it's not really the bottom line, because Gantman went on to say that "There are problems that can, in terms of [an] increase of digital piracy, come with that, but we are hopeful that efforts can be made…to address digital piracy."

Don't get me wrong -- faster Internet download speeds could enable piracy. But with that logic we may as well just shut down the Internet -- because, hey, no Internet, no online piracy! Er…yeah.

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like the movie industry should instead think about how faster Internet will positively affect its creative abilities. For example, with faster download speeds, the industry will be able to create better content, and will be able to get that content -- that legitimate, non-pirated content -- to people quickly.

Of course, if the movie industry doesn't step up and create some sort of cool, speedy online content distribution to go with Google Fiber, then someone else will. And when someone else does, the MPAA will cry "Piracy!"

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