MPAA chief Charles Rivkin has made a speech that ties the resurgence of fake news, election meddling and hate speech to piracy, saying they're all symptoms of a "broken" Internet.
Referring to the "broken window" theory for urban environments, in which unrepaired broken windows and other visible signs of unaddressed crime encourages further crime and disorder, eventually leading to more serious crimes, Rivkin says that the existence of piracy leads to more piracy, and eventually, to more serious online crime.
Rivkin says that the solution is to address the piracy issue head on before other more serious issues, such as fake news and hate speech, can be addressed, or the Internet that we want can't be brought back.
"If we want to bring back the internet we all want, it's better to work together than cut each other off at the knees," Rivkin says. "There are too many online windows broken and left unfixed for us to do anything but take collective action – and take it now."
"Online piracy is also the proverbial canary in a coal mine. The same pervasive theft that my industry faces is part of a continuum of toxic developments that harm all of us in this ecosystem – consumers, creators, and commercial operators alike."
As for the "action" that Rivkin refers to, his speech made many references to a single major issue, that is the protection that internet companies are given when it comes to the action taken by their users - the so called "safe harbor" provision. Rivkin believes such provisions, originally written in the 1990's, are out of date.
"The internet policies that we still have in place were written at a time when the online platforms were nascent. But they are nascent no longer. We live in an AI world that is still operating on an AOL policy framework. Yet many platforms still cite statutes written to address the specific conditions that existed in the 1990s to avoid accountability," says Rivkin.
And the solution lies not only in legislative changes, but for Internet companies and online platforms to take more "voluntary" action in curbing the spread of piracy.
"The case for online platforms to step forward and become accountable at this time could not be more clear ... They’re not only morally duty bound, they’re supremely qualified to solve these problems at their very core."
This may refer to companies like Google being more proactive in removing and keeping pirated content removed (also known as "take down, stay down"), or for ISPs to patrol and hunt more aggressively in order to police copyright protection for rights-holders, like the major Hollywood studios that the MPAA represents.
As for what the MPAA companies can do to alleviate the piracy problem, with many critics saying that piracy is a symptom of a supply issue, and that addressing value and accessibility will have a greater impact in reducing piracy than legal and technical measures, Rivkin says the MPAA companies have already proved they fully embrace the digital revolution, and that content is already available on "450 legal online distribution services worldwide".