from the guilt-by-arrogance? dept
I’m planning to do some more thorough coverage of many of the comments that were submitted to the IP Enforcement Coordinator for next year’s “Joint Strategic Plan.” I just need to find an open block of time to go through a bunch of them. However, the folks over at TorrentFreak have highlighted one of the more ridiculous claims made in the combined filing from the RIAA & MPAA — suggesting that people like Kim Dotcom are guilty of breaking the law because they’re rich, arrogant and are trying to influence public opinion:
In this case, the Justice Department and other federal agencies are now grappling with a set of wealthy and arrogant defendants who are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to sway public opinion against efforts to hold them accountable…
This reminds me of the debate I had with Jonathan Taplin, in which he referred to Kim Dotcom’s (rented) yacht, and asked where were the musicians’ yachts. Thing is, if I wanted to, I could easily find evidence of various rock stars with yachts. I could easily point to evidence of record label and movie studio execs with yachts, or who are phenomenally wealthy. Hell, I could just point you to the fact that the RIAA’s boss, Cary Sherman made $3.2 million in salary in 2009 — a number that I imagine is more than what nearly every single person reading this site makes in a year (or, in their lifetimes). Being wealthy is certainly no sign of guilt. And he got this amount even as he’s leading the RIAA through it’s clear decline in relevance phase, where he’s still fighting the wrong war.
Similarly, it’s not hard to find examples of massive arrogance on the part of these execs — from the RIAA and MPAA putting down the public (repeatedly) or ignoring valid concerns about SOPA and PIPA, to decades of arrogant efforts to destroy all kinds of innovations they don’t like, from radio to cable TV to the VCR to the mp3 player to the DVR.
Finally, these are the guys who run the media, and they’re complaining about a few execs trying to influence public opinion? The MPAA’s largest members are Universal (who owns NBC), Disney (who owns ABC), Viacom (who owns a bunch of TV stations and spun off CBS). And they’re going to complain that some tech folks have an undue influence on public opinion? Really? And, let’s not forget that these same groups have also “left no stone unturned” for decades in trying to influence public opinion. “Home taping is killing music.” Remember that? You know those “FBI warnings” on every single movie you watch?
I’d say that if we’re going to stack up which side of the debate has involved more “wealthy and arrogant” individuals “who are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to sway public opinion”… it has to start with the RIAA and the MPAA. But, of course, they’re allowed to do all of that, because none of it is illegal. But to try to associate such activity with illegality seems to be a stretch way beyond anything reasonable. Is Kim Dotcom loud, arrogant, crass and tacky in his displays of wealth? Absolutely. I doubt he’s the kind of person I’d care to spend any amount of time with, personally. But just because his style is so outlandish, it doesn’t automatically make him a criminal, as the RIAA and MPAA imply. Similarly, I don’t automatically assume that super wealthy, arrogant individuals who work for the entertainment industry are obviously criminals either.
It is really quite obnoxious and demeaning for these large trade agencies to go around smearing people based on superficial items like arrogance and wealth. Kim Dotcom may eventually be found guilty of criminal activity. And, at that point, they’re free to publicize that his actions here were criminal. But in the meantime, they’re acting like cliquish high school girls, tarring and feathering people because they don’t like the way they look or act.