With the stakes as high as they are — and I do mean stakes as high as whether or not we’ll continue to have a free and open internet — not understanding is the most dangerous thing you can do right now. Ari [Emanuel] is not some small time guy — he’s a titan who not only backed SOPA, but essentially admitted on stage that Hollywood paid for the bill through “fund raisers” for politicians. His brother is Rahm Emanuel, current mayor of Chicago, and former White House Chief of Staff to President Obama. If there’s anyone in Hollywood with pull that can go beyond the sun-kissed shores of LA, it’s Ari Emanuel.
Child pornography is great. Politicians do not understand file sharing, but they understand child pornography, and they want to filter that to score points with the public. Once we get them to filter child pornography, we can get them to extend the block to file sharing.
While we’re on the subject, go read Umberto Eco’s “Striking at the Heart of the State”, which you can find in his essay collection “Travels in Hyperreality”. The gist, briefly summarized, is that terrorism - under which heading we can include retaliatory DDoS attacks - actually serves the cause of the autocratic states or multinational corporations it claims to fight. The damage inflicted by terrorist attacks is trivial in the grand scheme of things, but attacks allow ‘the authorities’ to introduce ever more draconian schemes of control and surveillance in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’. The true enemy of autocracy is democracy, not violent direct action.
I make my living as an author, and by most measures, I am successful. My novels are published by Scholastic and HarperCollins and have received critical acclaim. Three of the four that are published have hit both the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Lists. My fifth book will be published in March, and I’m crossing my fingers for similar successes.
Every one of my books, including the one that is not yet available, has been pirated. They are all available through torrent sites, via links at blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. It’s awful to stumble upon a link to a torrent site where I can see that hundreds of thousands of people have downloaded my books for free. It’s a terrible feeling to know that these people either have no understanding of how their digital theft might impact my livelihood or, worse, understand it and simply don’t care.
It’s frustrating, infuriating and, honestly? It makes me sad. This is personal for me. There are few things in the world I loathe more than online piracy.
But, here’s the thing: Providing media companies with near-unfettered access to block/shut-down websites and networks that pirates use to link/promote piracy won’t help. It will hinder.