MPAA Uses Anon Attacks To Make Nonsensical Comments About Free Speech

from the a-protest-isn't-gov't-shut-down dept

I’m really beginning to wonder about the MPAA’s PR people and their near total inability to think through how their statements will be perceived. It’s put out a response to the DDoS attacks from Anonymous by trying to “take back” the moral high ground on the free speech issue. Yes, they’re claiming that the DDoS is a free speech violation and then wrap themselves in the First Amendment:

Unfortunately, some groups believe that speech or ideas that they disagree with should be silenced. This could not be more wrong. No matter the point of view, everyone has a right to be heard.

The motion picture and television industry has always been a strong supporter of free speech. We strongly condemn any attempts to silence any groups or individuals.

The Internet is home to creativity, innovation and free speech. We want to keep it that way. Protecting copyrights and protecting free speech go hand in hand.”

Ok. So then you condemn SOPA and PIPA, right? Since those are attempts to silence people. But here’s the thing: “free speech” issues are about government censorship. Such as passing a bad law that allows the government to take down websites. Having some people protest you may be annoying, but it’s not a free speech issue (other than, perhaps, in arguing the protesters’ rights to free speech. Trying to regain the high ground on this issue is pretty transparently ridiculous by the MPAA — and simply calls much more attention to who’s actually trying to stifle free speech by passing bad laws that allow for censorship.

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Comments on “MPAA Uses Anon Attacks To Make Nonsensical Comments About Free Speech”

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72 Comments
Rottweiler (profile) says:

Pot calling the kettle black...

Well yes, hipocrisy at its best as always.

But to be honest, I didn’t expect that, really, at least they have not pulled out the “See guys? cyber-terrorists are allied with piracy apologists and are dangerous, this is the proof that concludes that the internet must be controled” card yet… But I wouldn’t be surprised if they do.

Tor (profile) says:

It's not just the government that can attack free speech

“free speech” issues are about government censorship

I disagree. The core issue is how much power the party attacking free speech has. Since the legal system and the government are central places from which where very powerful attacks can be launched it naturally attracts a lot of interest.

But if groups that are not affiliated with the state use their power to seek out and silence others I’d argue that that’s too an attack on free speech.

Besides, if we want even people who say stupid things and who want to limit our freedom to enjoy freedom of speech then what better case can we get than this to demonstrate our willingness to stand up for those principles. 😛

Richard (profile) says:

Re: It's not just the government that can attack free speech

But if groups that are not affiliated with the state use their power to seek out and silence others I’d argue that that’s too an attack on free speech.

True but is does sort of depend on the level of power of the organisation doing it.

I’d say its really hard to argue that a DDOS attack by a group with little money and no formal political power, that lasts but a few hours and only affect a very small part of the targets communication facility constitutes censor ship in any meaningful way.

It’s like saying that throwing a custard pie in someone’s face is censorship because they can’t talk for a few seconds afterwards.

Tor (profile) says:

Re: Re: It's not just the government that can attack free speech

Censorship is something that the state does (and unless you’re a libertarian you might also say that powerful organisations sometimes do it) and it normally extends over time.

However, even though throwing a custard pie on someone’s fade is not censorship it is still an attack on free speech. Sometimes it can even be a quite serious attack.

We shouldn’t just discuss censorship. If you for example take SOPA/PIPA a big part of the problem is that they introduce completely new risk structures for intermediaries and people who want to express themselves. Those risk structures need not always be censorship per see (one could perhaps call it outsourced censorship), but it’s still a free speech issue.

Lauriel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: It's not just the government that can attack free speech

However, even though throwing a custard pie on someone’s fade is not censorship it is still an attack on free speech. Sometimes it can even be a quite serious attack.

No, it isn’t. Using overwhelming power (government mainly, but also wealth/political power) to stifle someone’s means to speak freely is censorship, and an attack on their free speech.

Throwing a custard pie is a response to the other person’s free speech. The response is simply “Shut the hell up, I’m through listening to you.”

The rights and means to speak doesn’t equate to a necessity to be heard and regarded highly. 🙂

Tor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It's not just the government that can attack free speech

I’m not a native english speaker so I’ve got to wonder if this is some kind of figure of speech or if you’re actually talking about physically assaulting someone by throwing a pie at them. If it’s the latter, just think of for example a local politician who get assaulted at a public meeting for daring to present her viewpoint. Such a thing could very well make a person quit politics for life. That’s not attacking free speech?

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 It's not just the government that can attack free speech

Tossing a custard pie into someone’s face is an old joke from way, way back in the old movies, comedies mostly of the 1920s and 30s.

it survives today, on occasion, as a form of protest against something a politician is associated with or stands for. In the 19th Century and early parts of the 20th century tossing overripe fruits and vegetables was the more common form of expressing dislike with the politician.

It hurts no one but legally it’s an assault.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It's not just the government that can attack free speech

Well they(the industry) can say whatever they want didn’t they get their message out to the media and the internet?

Anonymous can’t stop that but they sure can protest restricting access to a couple of outlets they have, just like picketing outside any other big company HQ.

What exactly is wrong with that?

bob (profile) says:

Re: It's not just the government that can attack free speech

Well of course you’re right but the nuts around here love to bastardize the idea of “free speech”. Claiming that a DDOS is “free speech” is just the latest insanity around here. It’s a great insult to folks like Martin Luther King, Peter Zenger and all of the other free speech advocates who believed that people should have a right to speak.

Yelling so hard that the DOJ can’t get out their word is simply wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: It's not just the government that can attack free speech

The DoJ can still get their word out, silly! They just have to use another web address to do so. They can also go on television, they can take to the newspapers, they could even make a YouTube video.

Their right to speak hasn’t been taken away.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: It's not just the government that can attack free speech

They started it.

After being pushed around for so long, people start getting tired, and then they snap. That’s why you have the blackouts and the DDOS attacks. I think, quite frankly, that you are lucky that people aren’t talking about bringing down the government or starting another civil war.

If the Government keeps pushing people around, sites aren’t the only thing that will be going “down”.

ASTROBOI says:

Re: Re: Re: It's not just the government that can attack free speech

And this is precisely why some of our representatives are pushing this thng; the reaction to dissent by governments is not the negotiate with the people. It is to suppress dissent. Even our wonderful democratic system will not tolerate an attack on its authority. When people begin to “snap” the government will spend its last buck and its last breath suppressing any dissent. Look how they handled the drug issue and you will see a template for how this internet freedom issue will eventually be confronted. The middle east revolts were a wake-up call for all governments. They see what can happen and they are not going to let it happen to them.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: It's not just the government that can attack free speech

I would say trying to regulate the greatest communication tool in the history of mankind does far more insult to the likes of Martin Luther King Jr and Peter Zenger. Do you honestly believe that they would support giving the government the ability to censor the internet?

PrometheeFeu (profile) says:

Re: It's not just the government that can attack free speech

I don’t think it’s a matter of relative power. I think it’s a matter of tactics. If I tell you: “I’m not going to buy from your store unless you shut up” I may have a lot of power (if I’m a big customer) but you still have the ability to keep speaking. On the other hand, if I say: “I’m going to egg your store unless you shut up” then I am violating your free speech rights because I am threatening your property rights. Ultimately, it comes down to whether I should be allowed to do what I am threatening you with. I should obviously be allowed to not do business with you, but egging your store is off limits. Similarly, if Anonymous wants to organize a boycott, write browser extensions that warn you that you are on a boycotted site etc, that’s fine. But when they DDoS someone or deface a site, that’s a different matter entirely.

Psychic Octopus says:

Re: It's not just the government that can attack free speech

You are right, but the issue is in the asymmetry between actors. A powerful actor, like government, can stifle free speech more than a powerless actor. The RIAA and MPAA have, short of the federal government, the most power in the USA to censor or prevent someone from speaking. Anonymous and most of the dissenters against SOPA and PIPA have comparatively very little. The copyright lobby and the government still had many avenues to make their opinions known. With SOPA and PIPA, it will be the little guy who will most be stifled.

aikanae says:

Anon's attack was not about SOPA

Anon’s attack was about proving that bills like SOPA aren’t needed to reach foriegn distributors. A business was taken down without their day in court, and they were planning to be competitors… the big no-no for a monopoly. Not SOPA. I don’t think the MPAA or RIAA want people to understand what the issues were.

Anonymous Coward says:

Even an idiot blunders into insight on occasion. Besides, that first paragraph is perfect to use against them; they can hardly dismiss their own words.

As for the attack itself, everybody’s in the wrong here. ICE, Anonymous, and the MAFIAA. The first and last need no explanation here, but the middle apparently does.

To those in power, this looks like the Internet’s stick coming out to beat them for not all capitulating on SOPA and PIPA Wednesday. Techdirt readers know that’s not what it was about, but that’s what it looks like from the land of lobbyists and backroom deals. And worse, by praising Anonymous’ attacks, Techdirt is undermining its efforts in the vitally important work of stopping these bills. Anonymous is becoming toxic to its causes, and it’s about time Techdirt admitted that.

gorehound (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No WAy Jose !!!
Big Content & their stooges In Washington have lied to us.They wanted to add on more “Government”, and more Taxes, and more Regulations on Busainess and they wanted to go against our Constitution and attack normal Citizens.
18TH we protested nicely & on the 19th they lied some more and blew off the whole 18th online protests.
Anonymous is great for doing what they did.How many more people will now learn of the truth or at least wonder why this is happening and then figure it out? Mr. Normal is going to wake up some more now.

Violated (profile) says:

Anons

You would think that Mega seriously got censored by the US Government yesterday but at least they will have their chance to fight back… if the US Government left them enough funds to pay their lawyers.

Yes as pointed out the 1st Amendment is all about Government censorship. From what we heard yesterday, including the odd concept of an on-line storage company paying its hosting bills now being called “laundering”, then Anonymous has a very good reason to be upset.

Not to forget we all know that the MPAA site serves little purpose beyond being a brochure site. One would think by now they would have put their site behind a good router which could filter out the attack but in not doing so I guess they want to keep their reason to moan at Anonymous.

I could not happen to avoid notice that justice.gov got a serious kicking yesterday. There was no way anyone could load that site when it would take well over 50,000 attempts even to get a single valid response.

Well there has been far too much injustice recently but is not like we will all sit down to enjoy some tea and cake.

That Anonymous Coward says:

“Unfortunately, some groups believe that speech or ideas that they disagree with should be silenced. This could not be more wrong. No matter the point of view, everyone has a right to be heard.”

Unless they haven’t paid as much as we have to have bills keeping our business model alive, and then fuck them and their ideas.

“The motion picture and television industry has always been a strong supporter of free speech. We strongly condemn any attempts to silence any groups or individuals.”

Really, you bring the music up and cut off speeches at your awards shows. You were a driving force behind silencing Rojadirecta. You were a driving force behind silencing Dajaz1, for DARING to do what was asked of them. You seem to think Free Speech is only allowed when it supports what you want, this is not the case.

“The Internet is home to creativity, innovation and free speech. We want to keep it that way. Protecting copyrights and protecting free speech go hand in hand.”

No they don’t. You want the internet around to keep giving you ideas you can steal and use to make more money. You want the next cool storage format developed without you having to spend anything. You don’t want them doing anything that threatens your business model. We have spent so much time and effort protecting your copyrights, would you please explain what it is society gains in return for allowing you this monopoly? Because you’ve put your thumb on the scales and taken away what we were promised, so what is it we get for allowing you to have it now?

Why don’t you teach all of us a lesson, and stop releasing movies.
Put your money where your mouth is and deny all of us “thieves” your content.
We made the internet go dark, make the theaters go dark.
In the long run you’ll be saving money as you won’t be loosing billions of made up dollars anymore, and you can teach us that we need you and we should remember our place.

Oh that won’t work, because your terrified people will find more content in the huge amount of hours being uploaded to Youtube and other sites. That we might see the awesomeness that is made by people who will take a risk on making something we have never seen before, that didn’t get a focus group approval and is just a retelling of the same 6 plots you keep using.

Stop trying to bend the entire planet to support your business model. Imagine for less than a third of what you have spent in backrooms, you could have updated your model to a global one. You could be making more money than ever before and crush piracy by giving paying customers content when THEY want it, not when your chart says you should.

Loki says:

No matter the point of view, everyone has a right to be heard.

Really? Where did you allow dissenting opinion to be heard throughout most of your back room negotiations of ACTA? Where did you allow dissenting opinions during that farce of a hearing Lamar Smith held on SOPA? Where is the dissenting opinions being heard while you negotiate TPP behind everyone’s back?

The motion picture and television industry has always been a strong supporter of free speech.

Oh, bullshit. You only believe in free speech if it supports your twisted views. You sound even more absurd given the fact the only reason you even exist as an industry is you moved clear to the other end of the country so you could bypass the very types of laws you so stringently try to enforce on others.

The simply truth is that is SOPA level legislation had existed for Thomas Edison, the entire MPAA would have been sued out of existence before it even started.

The Luke Witnesser says:

Here lies the truth about SOPA/PIPA that even TechDirt has yet to report: what MPAA, RIAA, and Hollywood execs do not want you to see.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJIuYgIvKsc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzS5rSvZXe8

The truth behind why these big companies responsible for SOPA and PIPA are also responsible for piracy itself is far more insidious than even their outmoded business model.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Here lies the truth about SOPA/PIPA that even TechDirt has yet to report: what MPAA, RIAA, and Hollywood execs do not want you to see.

You know, he’s right. I do remember CNET/ZZDNet with glowing reviews of file sharing software and sites using some of their top reviewers to do it.

For some reason I just didn’t connect the dots though I knew they were there.

And, the guy is right, all of this is a great way to create a market where none may have existed before. So thank you Hollywood for creating and enabling the very market you now whine about so much and want to be protected from. The same market you helped create.

Not, by the way,that file sharing of a sort wouldn’t have existed anyway but just imagine the technically challenged trying to use CNET and ZDNet without all those nice instructional articles, reviews and nice spots like Downloar
ds.com.

Not that there aren’t far more legitimate uses for file sharing software and sites than piracy but the MPAA and RIAA will, of course, focus on the piracy.

I can’t say I’m at all surprised. Or at all shocked. Standard method of operation for the MPAA, RIAA and publishing industry.

ASTROBOI says:

They never did!

The movie industry has never supported free speech, individual rights, or any kind of freedom for the general population, moviegoing or not. True, some movie directors were very outspoken but their work was often watered down by the releasing companies. The movie industry gave in to reformers way back in the thirties, subscribing to the production code and creating the MPAA. For over 30 years we had dumbed down movies in which nobody said “damn” and no married couples slept in the same bed. The industry, through the MPAA, supported the shameful blacklisting of the artists they claimed to protect during the McCarthy witchunt and ruined the carriers of many of their own people. Like any industry, the movie industry is about making as much money as possible in any manner possible and that includes barefaced lying.

oliwek says:

free speech is for everyone, even opponents of your views. Above all opponents .

Of course MPAA hates free speech, as long as free speech means criticism of a system they abuse and make tremendous profits upon (IP rights). Nonetheless DDOS attacks mean they can’t answer back, so it also means anonymous impede free speech doing so. Free speech is not just something governments can abuse, even your neighbour can.

Anonymous Coward says:

They’re making a huge error. Everyone has a right to say whatever they want. By no means does that mean anyone has to listen or hear them. It also doesn’t mean what anyone says is correct. Some random ass on the street can come up to me and tell me 1 + 1 = 3, but he’s never going to be correct and no one’s required to listen to him be wrong. Just like no one’s required to listen to the MPAA claim they could be making 3x the GDP in profit or revenue if those pesky pirates weren’t around.

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