You would think that a Hollywood astroturfing group, funded by all of the major Hollywood studios, would know better than to issue a blatant attack on another company for "failing to condemn" how some people viewed their products. After all, Hollywood is the industry that glorifies murder
, con men
and (yes) piracy
. And Hollywood gets quite up in arms any time anyone suggests that its movies might influence folks in that way. That's the correct response because it is
silly and ridiculous to attack an industry that makes one thing for then not condemning how that thing may be viewed or used improperly. But, apparently, some folks in Hollywood have no problem casting similar aspersions on industries they hate.
Earlier this year, we wrote about the "launch" of a new Hollywood-funded organization called "CreativeFuture." As we noted, this "launch" was a bit misleading, because CreativeFuture was just the rebranding
of Creative America, an organization that Hollywood slapped together as an astroturfing group in support of SOPA and PIPA. It pretends to represent the interests of creators, but actually is almost entirely funded by the major Hollywood studios. After Creative America was a complete disaster, widely derided (even inside Hollywood) as a joke, Hollywood did a rebrand to CreativeFuture, and brought in new leadership in the form of Ruth Vitale, whom the NY Times described as "sassy." Except, as we noted, the playbook remained the same: basically misrepresent issues related to copyright, pretend to represent "artists" when actually representing the big studios who regularly screw over artists, and always, always, always blame the innovators and technology companies who have provided new tools and services that have helped reinvent the industry for decades.
Vitale is bringing her "sassy" take to this playbook with a bizarre attack on BitTorrent, entitled: We're All Waiting, BitTorrent
. The basic argument is that since BitTorrent is often used for exchanging unauthorized copies of content BitTorrent Inc. has a responsibility to (1) "condemn" how its own technology is used and (2) figure out a way to stop it from being used that way.
If BitTorrent wished to prevent their client applications from being used to facilitate massive piracy, it could do something about it. The company says it’s all about technology, so how about using technology to reduce piracy?
Funny how some technology companies like BitTorrent are always extolling the unlimited power of technology – except when it can be used to help creators by preventing the unauthorized distribution of their creative content.
I believe that BitTorrent’s failure to publicly condemn the misuse of its protocol – and to actually do something about it – is going to hurt the company’s efforts to build legitimate business models... just like it hurts everyone else’s.
Despite the fact that, for many years, Hollywood has been blamed for all sorts of stuff concerning its movies -- and Hollywood has, rightly, pointed out that it's ridiculous to blame its movies for idiots imitating what's in the movies, or for believing they're anything more than fictional stories. And yet, now, when it comes to technology, Hollywood wants to take the same bogus moral panics used against it and turn it on technology? Just how cynical can Hollywood get?
Oh, actually much more cynical. Vitale also pulls out a sarcastic "manifesto" that BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen wrote many years before working on BitTorrent, in which he jokingly talked about building tools to "commit digital piracy" as if she's found the smoking gun.
The whole point of this "sassy" rant appears to be to drive creators away from embracing new technologies. She directly says that creators should "pause" before working with BitTorrent Inc., because even though it's created a massive tool for free
distribution, combined with a very committed and loyal audience, which many creators have found help drive sales
, she doesn't like that they haven't "done enough" to "stop piracy."
This is the same misguided playbook that Jack Valenti played for years, attacking the very technology his industry needed to embrace, delaying the inevitable and harming the very industry he "represented."
Because, really, what does Vitale think will happen if either of her demands are met? If BitTorrent could magically make its protocol less useful, people will immediately switch to something else. If BitTorrent were to vocally "condemn" uses of its technology for infringement, does she honestly think that people who use BitTorrent to infringe on copyrights will magically change their ways? Who is she fooling, other than herself?
Instead of recognizing that there are many big entertainment fans
that the industry could embrace and drive towards additional offerings, Vitale wants to make this a silly moral stand that will do no good -- not unlike the silly "morality" attacks on Hollywood for "promoting" sex and violence. Why Vitale would take such a page from the very people who tend to attack her industry is beyond me. It's hardly a strategy for embracing the future, and seems like one that only cements legacy Hollywood's image of being clueless and out of touch with today's entertainment fans, as well as new and innovative technologies.