My e-mail has been flooded with cheers of “victory” and “we won” from anti-SOPA/PIPA activists who, at the very least, I must congratulate and thank for being a big part of making the blackout happen. So why does this piss me off? Because we have not won anything.
The current lack of support for SOPA is not a win for our rights anymore than a shared file results in a financial loss for content creators. SOPA is postponed. Meanwhile a huge service, MegaUpload, has been crucified without due process and the Supreme Courthas extended the allowable term for copyright once more. These things are not victories in the arena of copyright reform and civil rights. These in fact represent a lost of rights for the common person.
Nobody has a right to judge MegaUpload one way or the other because these accusations have not been put through due process. This is a clear case of guilty until proven innocent which is not acceptable for even the most heinous of criminals, let alone an arguably legitimate service. Furthermore, these conspiracy and laundering charges are bogus. All businesses conspire to beat their competition. At present, the only copetition for services like MegaUpload is poor interpretation and execution of the law.
What is money laundering in this case?
The sprawling indictment goes on to describe cash that was spread around Megaupload’s international presence, with million dollar transfers flying between Hong Kong, Virginia, and Georgia, courtesy of a coding team that spanned US, Europe, and New Zealand. Some of this money went back into beefing up Megaupload, or was paid out to its super users.
Is transferring large amounts of money automatically indicative of laundering? If MegaUpload is given the benefit of the doubt under our practice of “innocent until proven guilty” (5th, 6th and 14th amendment rights), then are any of their activities actually illegal? Assuming that they fall under a safe harbor as a legitimate service provider, there is no “conspiracy” involved in legally running a business or profiting from it. These charges are only valid when it is determined that the service itself is not an actual service, but a crime. That is, as of yet, undetermined until MegaUpload is given a fair opportunity to defend their business in court. Until then, it simply is not acceptable for the feds to interfere with their business. What will happen if the courts determine that they are providing a legitimate service that is not primarily aimed toward piracy? Is the entertainment industry going to pay for MegaUpload’s “loss of profits” during their down time?
The bottom line question beneath this whole incident is simple: Is MegaUpload a legitimate service deserving the same right to operate as Youtube? These people who have had all of their important data hosted by MegaUpload seized by the FBI without notice or due process sure thought so.
Remember when “cloud computing” was the big, fluffy marketing term used to sell individuals and businesses on backing up their data in “the cloud” because it was so much safer? I guess the feds just killed that entire industry.
Once again, copyright proves to be harmful to the economy and a threat to job creation. I wish I had a copy of my Blog Pirate rant from a few years ago about why cloud computing is a bad idea. This. This is why it’s a bad idea. Simply because our government is too corrupt to allow new services to thrive.
Which brings me to the final point that pisses me off and even has be disappointed in a lot of my fellow internet freedom writers. Especially the ones with a larger reader base.
The other day I posted the need to spread this message about getting the entertainment industry out of government. This was not aimed at lobbying, but more specifically aimed at the problem with having former employees of the RIAA now working in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Since that posting, you probably heard that Anonymous has launched DDoS attacks on the Dept. of Justice, RIAA/MPAA and FBI websites in retaliation of the violation of MegaUpload’s rights. While you have likely read a lot about the Department of Justice since then, one very important fact seems to go overlooked by other writers; the fact that several members of the Dept. of Justice are former RIAA lawyers! An extreme bias and conflict of interest can be assumed not just from circumstance, but it is clear to be seen in their willingness to stretch the law in order to enforce copyright on behalf of the entertainment industry.
Not that The Washington Post is considered to be in the group of “fellow internet freedom fighters,” but here is a clear example of the RIAA and DoJ being mentioned in the same article without any mention of the RIAA being in the DoJ. The article is about how the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN) was vehemently opposed by the RIAA because it would not be enforced by their Department of Justice puppets. Instead, OPEN would have been enforce by the International Trade Commission. As far as I am aware, none of the ITC commissioners have ever been employee by the RIAA. If you find out otherwise, please do let me know.
As for the DoJ, here are just a few articles for reference:
- RIAA and BSA’s Favorite Lawyers Taking Top Department of Justice Posts
- Former RIAA Lawyer At DOJ Will Only Avoid RIAA Issues For A Year
- Obama Taps 5th RIAA Lawyer to Justice Dept.
Of course the RIAA wants to push SOPA. It means they will essentially be given direct authority to police the internet. Why are we wasting time trying to determine if MegaUpload is guilty of conspiracy when the RIAA has successfully staged a coup of the U.S. government?
But today my anger and disappointment are not directed at them. They are directed at any writer in support of our rights that is content to ignore this major source of ongoing threats to those rights. I for one am not content to merely play a defensive game of tug-of-war with my freedoms. I will not sit here and defend these perpetual attempts by entertainment industry employees who have infiltrated high ranking positions in the government who would step all over my civil rights on behalf of a copyright corporation.
This problem needs to be addressed head on and it is time to make people as aware of this threat to our economy, jobs and freedoms as they are of SOPA. If you are a writer, you have a duty to address this issue. If you are a reader, you have a duty to share this with others. If you are content to do neither, then you do not deserve my respect. You are not fit to call yourself a pirate and you are not fit to call yourself an American. If you are not American, you would be naive to think that this issue does not affect you when the source of the world’s copyright problems begin right here.
We call ourselves pirates! Not because we are criminals. We call ourselves pirates because it represents our love for freedom and unwillingness to accept corporate intrusions on our civil rights. Act now and let us remove big media from government positions before they remove our rights!