The RIAA has made some bizarre and totally nonsensical arguments in its time, but it may have just set a new low. castilho
points us to an opinion piece written by RIAA boss Mitch Bainwol that tries to pin the blame for the Chinese hack of Google
on Google's opinion towards copyright
. Seriously. Of course, the logical leaps and bounds you have to go through to make this sort of statement is a bit crazier than your average roller coaster, and in the process Bainwol seems to be implying both that those who give away anything for free are against content creation and that getting hacked actually has something to do with copyright law.
In January, Chinese hackers infiltrated the systems of the biggest technology dog on the global block and, according to the company, stole Google's intellectual property.
I see where you're going with this, but to compare hacked code being copied with fans sharing music (neither of which, by the way, is actually "stealing") is so far off-base that it's guffaw-inducing. In Google's case, this was information for private use -- not something protected by intellectual property law that it was trying to sell. The two situations are entirely different and, unlike Mitch Bainwol, the folks at Google clearly do understand the difference.
In texting parlance, Google has finally had an OMG! moment when it comes to intellectual property. Unfortunately, it took this theft of their IP to flip on the switch.
Ignoring the bizarre and slightly creepy attempt to sound hip, nothing in Google's response suggests any change in opinion on the issue of intellectual property. That's because, as stated above, the hack had nothing to do with intellectual property or intellectual property law. If it caused any sort of epiphany, it should have been in relation to the problems with gov't mandated surveillance
, which is what opened Google up to being hacked. Again this has nothing whatsoever to do with intellectual property law and everyone knows it. Except, apparently, Mitch Bainwol.
Frankly, Google has never been very warm to the idea of copyright protections. Google routinely has sided with the "free access" (more aptly the "free of charge") crowd against those who actually create the intellectual property.
I can't speak for Google, obviously, but my sense has always been that they actually do take copyright law incredibly seriously. They went out and hired one of the world's foremost experts in copyright. But it's that second sentence that is so amazingly wrong that I'd like to formally request that Mitch Bainwol and the RIAA issue an apology for being blatantly insulting to everyone who believes in the use of "free" as part of a smart business model. I'll note, of course, that the RIAA itself has long used "free" in parts of their business model -- and to then imply that this is against
those who actually create intellectual property is obnoxious in the extreme.
I create intellectual property every single day, as do people at Google, and many others who recognize the value of free content. To imply that those who understand basic economics are somehow "against" content creators is ridiculous. How can you claim that, when we spend so much time showing how content creators -- including a bunch who the labels that Bainwol represents have clearly ripped off repeatedly -- are now making more money by ignoring copyright and leveraging free to their advantage, often to make more money than any RIAA-label ever helped them make?
Mitch, you owe all supporters of "free" an apology.
Remember the Big G's idea to digitize every book in the world and put it in their digital library? That went over so well that Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild of America sued to stop Google from creating the virtual library.
Wait, what? A lawsuit, by itself, doesn't mean anything. Mitch? The Authors Guild hasn't won its lawsuit, and has admitted
that the reason it settled was because a bunch of copyright experts told them they had a pretty good chance of losing the lawsuit to Google.
Hell, the RIAA has been sued for racketeering a bunch of times. By Bainwol's own logic here, the RIAA must be racketeers.
Google argued that they were just trying to make the world a better place by making important works of literature available to people all over the globe. A rather egalitarian idea (unless you're the authors and publishers who depend on people actually buying books in order for you to make a living).
Yes, you heard it here first. The RIAA is apparently against people having more access to books. As for that final sentence, again, Bainwol is playing fast and loose with the facts. Google Books only showed mere snippets of books, and most authors found that when their books were available on Google books it helped them sell more
and make a better living. Isn't that the point? Or should we not be surprised that the guy who's the spiritual leader of an industry that sued tens of thousands of its biggest fans and presided over the massive collapse of its revenue doesn't quite understand how to focus on the actual bottom line results rather than making up false stats?
Last month, Google found out just how dangerous free access to one's property can be to one's business model. Like Inspector Renault who is "shocked" to find gambling in Rick's saloon in "Casablanca," Google was "shocked" to find their systems hacked and their precious intellectual property stolen. Now, I'm not expecting Google to make a 180° turn and join us in our fight to protect IP the way Claude Raines joined Bogart to fight the Nazis, but perhaps Google will have a more reasonable view of the need to protect IP.
Why? Seriously? Please explain how the hell intellectual property laws would have made the slightest difference here. You could have had the most powerful copyright laws in the world, and it would have had zero impact on the ability of Chinese hackers to break into Google's servers. The hack had nothing to do with intellectual property laws.
The problem here -- and this is quite common with folks who don't actually understand this topic -- is that Bainwol is confusing intellectual property laws
with the intellectual property (which isn't actually property, but that's another issue...).
What's the effect of IP theft on the U.S. economy? First, let's look at the IP industry's share of the economy. A 2007 International Intellectual Property Alliance study found 11.7 million people working in the total copyright industries. That's 8.51 percent of the U.S. workforce. These industries help drive our nation's economy. In 2007, IP companies added $1.52 trillion or 11.05 percent to the GDP. When people say "we don't make anything in America anymore," just hit them with those facts.
I see your bogus $1.52 trillion dollars and raise you to $2.2 trillion
. That's the amount of the US economy dependent on exceptions to copyright law
such as fair use. And that, by the way, is using the same methodology as your $1.52 trillion bogus number. And you know, companies like Google are a big part of those that rely on exceptions in copyright, such as fair use -- something your organization has tried to deny exists.
In cities and towns throughout America, the IP community creates good paying jobs that have an enormous, positive impact. Those jobs come with health care plans and retirement savings accounts. They benefit our cities and towns with increased tax revenues that help pay for the services we all need.
See what Bainwol is doing here? He keeps shifting back and forth between content and IP laws, as if they're the same thing. But they're not. Most of those jobs don't rely on IP laws
to exist. In fact, as noted above, a much greater number rely on avoiding
IP law through exceptions to have those jobs, with that even larger enormous, positive impact.
Most importantly, the IP industries create products that are enjoyed the world over--games, movies, books, and of course, music. Yet every year, as broadband technology advances, intellectual property thieves become increasingly more sophisticated. The assaults grow more ferocious. The broader the broadband, the easier to steal copyrighted works.
Mitch, those aren't "IP industries." They're content industries, and a significant portion of their income doesn't come because of IP laws. Hell, if we just look at your own industry, music, we see that a significant and growing portion
is the part that doesn't rely on IP laws at all. And please can the faux moral panic about broadband being to blame here. You and your organization have had well over a decade to learn how to adapt. Many in the music business have adapted
. It's just the organizations that you represent that have been resisting and making bad decisions -- many under your leadership -- that have resulted in nothing but greater and greater losses. This isn't about broadband, but about a basic failure to adapt to a changing marketplace.
Like our friends at Google, we fully support the adoption of broadband and the new and exciting opportunities it provides for consumers to enjoy movies, television programs and music.
And that, right there, explains why you're so far behind. You still don't realize what the internet is. It's a communication platform. It's not for consumers to just enjoy music, television programs and music. It's for them to communicate
. You want to turn the internet into a broadcast medium when it's a communications medium. The reason people share content online is because that's what the internet is for
. To communicate -- and communication is just a way of sharing information. Until you understand that simple fact, you're going to keep flailing.
Yet there is no question that despite our extensive and innovative offerings of legal content, the levels of online and physical theft around the world extract a profound toll. That activity has a direct and harmful impact on American jobs and our economy. And as Google has found out, this illegal activity is exacerbated by the unwillingness of some--including some businesses and even some governments--to take reasonable steps to address these problems. As we know too well, IP theft has "enablers" all over the place.
Again, no, what Google found out was that it needed better security, not stronger IP laws.
If it is in the national interest to protect the millions of Americans who use Google's services--and it is-- it is also in the national interest to stop the theft of intellectual property. But doing so requires cooperation by other industries and a commitment on the part of government to take reasonable steps, both at home and abroad, to combat the harmful economic effects of IP theft.
Again with the apples and oranges comparison. You're still talking about two totally different things. And your readers know it. They're not stupid. Why treat them as idiots who can't tell the difference?
Working with our partners in business and in government, we hope to ensure that the American intellectual property community remains a strong, vibrant world leader that helps fuel our nation's economic resurgence. With the light shining on Google, one of the 21st century's business icons, perhaps we will see a renewed sense of purpose at home and abroad to protect the heritage and the future of our IP community.
Again, what Google needs is better security. But, given that one of the stellar moments under your watch was when the recording industry decided to place security-eviscerating rootkits on people's computers in the form of DRM, perhaps we should prioritize computer security as an issue before we focus on your wasted effort to prop up an obsolete business model.
I try to take the folks at the RIAA seriously, but when they published something this ridiculous, insulting and wrong, it really makes you wonder.