Yesterday's lead story in the SA Sunday Times reads: 'Teenagers as young as 14 have been charged with peddling pirated films at roadsides and flea markets as South Africa battles a tidal wave of counterfeit movies, music and computer games pouring across its borders.' The Sunday Times has now decided to do a bit of advocacy work in its publication - but at least they admit it with a hint at the end of the story: 'Johnnic Communications, which owns the Sunday Times, has launched a campaign against the piracy of music and movies.'
Related to this, Clay Shirky has a great post in his email list entitled, 'The RIAA Succeeds Where the Cypherpunks Failed' about prosecutions against individual users of music file-sharing software in the States. He says: 'The obvious parallel here is with Prohibition. By making it unconstitutional for an adult to have a drink in their own home, Prohibition created a cat and mouse game between law enforcement and millions of citizens engaged in an activity that was illegal but popular. As with file sharing, the essence of the game was hidden transactions -- you needed to be able to get into a speakeasy or buy bootleg without being seen.
This requirement in turn created several long-term effects in American society, everything from greatly increased skepticism of Government-mandated morality to broad support for anyone who could arrange for
hidden transactions, including organized crime. Reversing the cause did not reverse the effects; both the heightened skepticism and the increased power of organized crime lasted decades after Prohibition
itself was reversed.'
At least the US didn't try to extend prohibition beyond its borders, though.