Recording Industry Exec Says It's Not Censorship To Block Sites He Doesn't Like

from the oh-really? dept

We see this kind of claim every so often, but usually not from a high-ranking legacy entertainment industry executive. However, TorrentFreak has the story of how the CEO of IFPI in Austria (IFPI is basically the international RIAA), Franz Medwenitsch, claiming that blocking websites like the Pirate Bay isn't censorship, because how can it be censorship to block stuff that he doesn't like?
“Censorship is the suppression of free speech and everyone who lives in a democratic society categorically rejects censorship,” the IFPI chief says.

“But what has freedom of expression got to do with generating advertising revenues by illegally offering tens of thousands of movies and music recordings on the Internet with disregard for creators and artists? And yet the freedom of the author to determine the use of their works themselves is trampled!”
Except, of course, that's not all that the Pirate Bay and other sites do. They offer plenty of legitimate content as well -- public domain material, works that creators want to be distributed in that way, etc. Furthermore, it's not these sites that are doing the distribution. They're effectively acting as a meeting place or a search engine to match different users who are offering up the content, authorized or not.

But there's this fundamental disconnect here which is scary to people who actually believe in free speech. Medwenitsch appears to have the dangerous belief that free speech only covers the kind of speech he likes. That's not free speech. It's really not that hard to see how someone could take Medwenitsch's half-baked argument and flip it around:
"But what has freedom of expression got to do with generating recorded music revenues by illegally promoting misogynistic music on the internet with disregard to the feelings of women? And yet the freedom of those women to be free from insults and offensiveness is trampled!"
I'm sure you can come up with your own variation as well. The second that you start to insist that certain kinds of speech are somehow "not worthy" of free speech, because you, personally, don't like them, you're opening up the door to widespread censorship and you don't believe in free speech at all. Medwenitsch highlights this problem perfectly. By his words he is pro-censorship and yet he believes he's anti-censorship.

As we've said in the past, it is perfectly legitimate to have the opinion that sites like the Pirate Bay should be illegal and blocked. We may think you're wrong, but you can have that opinion. But it's simply being dishonest to argue that taking down the site is not censorship. It is. It's just censorship you approve of.
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Filed Under: blocking, censorship, copyright, franz medwenitsch, free speech
Companies: ifpi

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  1. icon
    JP Jones (profile), 11 Aug 2014 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Technically true, but it would be hard to argue that the Bill of Rights was intended to remove whole sections of the newly formed Constitution.

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. - U.S. Constitution

    So, explain to me, in logical terms, how our current system of copyright meets the intent of this statement?

    How does how does "prevent anyone from using 'my' idea, regardless of monetary gain" equal "promote the Progress," how does "everything created, regardless of how meaningful" equal "Science and useful Arts," and how does "a human lifetime plus 70 years or 120 years after creation/95 years after publication" equal "limited Times?"

    Current copyright and the constitution are so far apart at this point they may as well not even be related.

    Actually, copyright is provided for in the body of the Constitution, which the amendments are by definition supposed to override. So I think there is a serious argument that copyright is unconstitutional.

    I would argue current copyright is unconstitutional because it completely deviates from the intent of the constitution, not because of any ammendments.

    People get hung up over "well, technology has made copying easier, therefore we need stronger copyright laws! The founding fathers would never have envisioned the internet!" But this is irrelevant. Their intent was quite clear...the purpose of copyright was to encourage people to create. At the time, this was done by giving creators a small (14 year) boost to profit from their work, then it would go to the public. The intent, however, was for everyone to benefit from these creations and discoveries.

    Current copyright does not meet that intent. It actively stifles creativity (as does spreadsheet marketing, but that's another issue). It's a tool that's been stolen by obsolete distribution businesses and forged into a weapon to generate money by draining it from creators and consumers alike (who, incidentally, are often the same people).

    Seriously, though, explain how our current copyright law is meets the intent of the constitution. I'm curious.

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