Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Unconstitutionality of the Internet Movie Download Scenario

The expectation is that DVDs will soon become obsolete, as will cable TV. We will be getting our entertainment through the internet which will be upgraded to have much better quality streaming and support for the large media files. But what happens when we don't buy DVDs anymore? Do we subscribe to a service that downloads them to a hard drive, something like TVO? Do we stream them over the net from a server maintained by a movie distributor?

If so, what do we then own when we buy a movie? Is it only a license to authorize the streaming? Must we transfer the license to each new system we buy? If we have multiple systems in the house, can we copy the license to each one? Is there a charge for that? Will the license be maintained on a server and all we need is a password? Isn't that insecure since pirates could steal a password just like identity thieves steal bank accounts?

In this world we don't own a physical copy of the movie. We just own a right to view it? What if there's a terrorist threat and we can't access the servers to download films? What if the government shuts down the servers? Must we wait for the war to end? or if there's a power outage at the server location? Now we have to worry about that on top of the possibility of similar problems on our end.

What if the distributor has a claim against us? Let's say we're behind on a bill for some other service. Can they hold us hostage by shutting down our movie account until we pay up?

We already have a serious problem with banks having total access to our money in bank accounts. If a creditor takes you to court and gets a levy on your assets the bank can give them all your money. A bank can take any fees it wants from your account. If you have an overdraft the bank takes the money first. They don't ask questions later, they just take the money. If they raise the fees, they just take them. They don't tell you later. Money is all they care about. Who's to say movie distributors won't behave the same?

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