SOPA and PIPA terrified those of us who cherish the Internet for what it has become today. In light of these bills, the MPAA embarrassed itself on numerous occasions, once even citing countries like China, Iran, and Syria as role models of sorts when it comes to how they think the Internet should be censored by the US.
This week, they’re at it again, opening our eyes to a beautiful example of the Streisand effect:
The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.
The MPAA’s latest attempt at thwarting the piracy of movies on the Internet sent them after a subreddit that many people never even knew existed.
That subreddit is /r/fulllengthfilms, which up until a couple hours from before I started this post was unkempt, had an obscenity in the header, and included CSS and a general color scheme that made you want to claw your eyes out. As this week is by far the most attention this subreddit has ever received, they’ve done a bit of tidying up. However, it’s not the type of clean-up that the MPAA is after. They want the Reddit administration to completely ban or remove this entire subreddit.
When you wage war on Reddit, you see the power of the Internet in its full force. On Thursday, there were numerous MPAA-related posts smothering the frontpage, including a #1 post where Redditors discussed this fiasco. Here is the top comment from that post:
Dozens and dozens of additional posts related to this incident were tossed all around Reddit, upvoted in hoards, and if anything, it has so far achieved the exact opposite of what I’m sure the MPAA wanted.
In this particular case, what the MPAA needs to consider is that Reddit is not a content delivery network. The things that are posted and linked on Reddit are not uploaded or hosted on Reddit. The only things that you’ll find on Reddit are links and text. Everything linked in the /r/fulllengthfilms subreddit is hosted on servers away from Reddit, and these are the websites that they should first be targeting.
I play from neutral ground when it comes to debates about piracy on the Internet. Fighting against Internet piracy isn’t exactly a bad thing, in my opinion, when handled properly. Though it goes against our own selfish and personal interests, we really shouldn’t have immediate access to free, full-length films over the Internet that would otherwise cost us money. However, we do.
If it’s in the MPAA’s interest to fight against that, they need to go about it in a respectable way. Targeting this subreddit isn’t going to earn them any new supporters, and it honestly isn’t going to achieve a thing.
I’m sure the MPAA didn’t contact every media outlet in their little black book to get this story out. Nonetheless, they had to know it would happen. Another thing that they needed to consider, or even be aware of, is the fact that anyone can make a subreddit. Subreddits are not assigned by some higher governing power within Reddit. The person who made /r/fulllengthfilms is just some guy. As a matter of fact, he had left the place for dead until this happened.
When I first heard about this, I immediately went to check out the subreddit. I expected to see some buzzing underground forum where torrent links are being pushed out by the hour. What I found was a mostly-dead subreddit with an awful stylesheet and numerous spam and filler posts. Is this really what the MPAA is after? Coming across this subreddit actually pointed me in the direction of two that are, in my opinion, a whole lot better:
Why trust the shady links on a subreddit like the one the MPAA is after when there are two great subreddits that offer full-length movies at your fingertips through Vimeo and YouTube? The difference is quite plainly that these movies are being uploaded and shared legally (or mostly, it seems), but if the MPAA really saw /r/fulllengthfilms as a huge offender a couple of days ago then I’m not even sure what they’d call it at this point. Attention has skyrocketed and it’s as popular as ever.
Google has already made it clear that they won’t be complying with the DCMA request submitted by the MPAA. This whole thing ended up damaging their reputation even more, opening thousands of eyes to where to find more legal and illegal movies online, and making one lucky subreddit moderator fairly famous (for now, at least). What’s your whole take on the situation and how it was handled? Let me know in the comments below!