Just a couple weeks ago, I received a ridiculous PR pitch from the entertainment industry lobbying group Arts+Labs, suggesting that a story that "hasn't really gotten the attention it deserves" is the "threat" from P2P software being used to "expose private documents to the world." The PR guy offered to help walk me through the process of downloading Limewire and finding such "exposed documents." Of course, what the PR guy left out is the reason
this story hasn't received that much attention: because it's a bogus story that's been debunked for years -- but it's a favorite of the entertainment industry and its lobbyists in trying to come up with any
reason to get Congress to issue laws against file sharing software.
However, it was obvious that this PR campaign was a setup: something bigger was underway... and, indeed, now we find out that these entertainment industry lobbyists have had a chance to bubble up yet again this silly idea to Congress, leading to yet another investigation of file sharing services
, with a specific focus on Limewire. Of course, we did this already. Two years ago, there was a bunch of grandstanding in Congress against Limewire
because some gov't officials had leaked documents possibly (though, not definitely) via Limewire. But, of course, the target was wrong. It wasn't Limewire that was the problem, it was government employees being stupid
and setting up private government documents in their shared folders and poor government computer security systems that allowed this to happen. But rather than blame bad gov't computer security or clueless users, the government set upon Limewire as the problem (encouraged, of course, by the entertainment industry's lobbyists).
The PR campaign and the Congressional investigation didn't happen in the same month by accident. You can pretty much assume that the whole effort was orchestrated by these lobbyists as yet another misguided attack on file sharing software, playing up the ridiculous idea that it's the software that's responsible for people leaking documents, rather than user stupidity and bad security.
It's nice to see some in the mainstream press not fall for this bogus story. The LA Times notes how pointless this effort is
, pointing out how the whole thing is misguided, and accurately noting:
Perhaps the real motive here is to find grounds to ban the software outright, which would please Hollywood but wouldn't solve the problem.
Of course, not all mainstream publications bothered to figure that out. Five days after Arts+Labs pitched me on the "Limewire-is-a-security-leak-problem" story, the WSJ published exactly that story
, including (of course!) a quote from Arts+Labs, and no quotes from anyone who would point out what a made up story it is, and how it's been planted by the entertainment industry in an effort to create a moral panic against P2P software. I thought the mainstream press was supposed to be where real journalists did their homework rather than just parroting the story lobbyists hand them?