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Dana Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist for over 25 years and has covered the online world professionally since 1985. He founded the "Interactive Age Daily" for CMP Media, and has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and dozens of other publications over the years.
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May 26, 2005

The Way of Hollywood is Madness

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

When will we get effective political pushback against Hollywood's absolutism on copyright?

I once thought it would happen when people were jailed for linking.

I was wrong.

The filing of criminal charges against the people who ran Elite Torrents, a BitTorrent "tracking site," and the complete take-down of the site, has caused few ripples. Washington remains as absolutist as ever.

Instead, it's technology that retains our confidence. BitTorrent is now becoming trackerless. No trackers, no tracking sites to take down, no track linkers to toss in jail.

But that's not good enough for me. This is like depending on super weapons to defend us in an atomic age. Without peace, soon, between copyright owners and copyright users, the Internet will be effectively destroyed.

It doesn't take much imagination to see Al Qaeda propaganda, or even terrorist plans, being distributed via a Torrent. Especially a trackerless torrent.

From there it is a very quick move to seeing politicians equate file sharing with terrorism, Torrent users with Al Qaeda, and demands for a complete shut-down on any technology that can benefit the enemy.

Let's be clear. Al Qaeda and the forces supporting them are Luddites. They aim to take their part of the world back to the Middle Ages. And they aim to take us down to the Middle Ages with them.

The Internet is the greatest weapon we have against tyranny in all its forms, especially this form. Any move against it is a move on behalf of the enemy.

So where do we go from here? I believe that if we don't move toward compromise on copyright we're pulling our own virtual Twin Towers down over our own heads, just to keep the enemy from doing it first.

The way of Hollywood, in other words, is madness. Free the tracker site managers, find a business model that works against hoarding, and let's have everyone in the West hang together.

Or else we will surely hang separately.

Comments (9) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Politics | law | war


1. Timothy Phillips on May 27, 2005 10:43 AM writes...

You wrote:

I believe that if we don't move toward compromise on copyright we're pulling our own virtual Twin Towers down over our own heads.

The question becomes, how do we get there, when the maximalists are in power and getting almost everything their way ?

Should we set up some extremists of our own in order to make our moderates look moderate--playing, in effect, a good cop-bad cop game ?

Possibly. But I think most of our progress will come from repeating our own ideas, over and over and over. If one looks carefully, perhaps one can see the effect of the Karjala/Lessig campaign for moderation in copyright already, in the wording of judicial opinions and legal scholarship. In time, perhaps it will have an effect on Congress as well. In time, perhaps, we won't need to "look carefully" to see the influence of these ideas.

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2. RB on May 28, 2005 08:47 AM writes...

In this post you offer several conflicting viewpoints, and the issue is polluted further with all the unnecessary terrrorism references. Al Qaeda would not be using bittorrent, as it's designed to distribute information to as many people as possible. Its not a private distribution mechanism for secret plots.

The world would not end if we abolished the current copyright system. Business would find a way, as it always does in the face of new technology. The current copyright czars are merely opposed to change, and will use their vast wealth that WE THE PEOPLE gave WILLINGLY TO THEM over many years to stomp out advancement. The catholic church in the dark ages used similar tactics.
"No! I'm just trying to invent *burn* AAAAHH!!!"
All humans fear change, especially those with the most to loose (POWER). The MPAA/RIAA proove beyond a doubt the old saying, power corrupts, and as every corrupt overpowered organization in the history of the earth, it will FALL.

The only way to fight against people so absolute in their view is to use force. In the past this meant war. Now it means economic punishment.

On the other hand, if the MPAA/RIAA wanted to win they could do it in a matter of weeks. All they would have to do is stop releasing movies music and TV shows for a little while, claiming that if we are going to pirate it they wont give it out. How quickly would that turn the tide of public opinion against file traders? No they are not pirates. Pirates sailed the seas and pillaged other ships. Digital content isnt stolen, merely copied. If i give a copy of this text to a friend, I still have my copy, and I am not deprived of anything.

The vast majority of poeple under the influence of the MPAA/RIAA are idiots who survived the government school system, clearly not the people that should be deciding the future of copyright; however in the end the only way to oppose such a powerful force is if we all group together and say with one voice, NO we will not let you control the future of technological development.

In the end it probablly wont matter anyway. This country is loosing its wealth and power. The shift of jobs and resources to asia will cause our downfall. We shouldnt be wasting our few remaining resources on the next eppisode of 24 or the next Star Wars movie, but we should be using them to reform our flawed political, economic, and social systems.

Thank you.

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3. John on May 28, 2005 08:50 AM writes...

You could go a long way by making it illegal for special interest groups like RIAA to buy legislation by buying political represetation through campaign fund donations.

Hollywood's bought congressmen should have to excuse themseves from legislative votes where they have received significant money from an interested party.

This would stop big industry like Hollywood from buying legislation they way they've been doing in the US for the last few decades.

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4. iIke on May 28, 2005 02:38 PM writes...

Why do we keep giving these blockheads money.

Stop spending money on movies, cds and everything else assocaited with these hollywierd types.

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5. bobby on May 29, 2005 06:12 PM writes...

it has become worse..

"Feds shut down BitTorrent hub"

"Homeland security agents from several divisions served search warrants on 10 people around the country suspected of being involved with the Elite Torrents site, and took over the group's main server."

You read that right.. "Homeland Security" now works for Hollywood..

No matter the side of the copyright/fair use debate you live on, it is hard to believe that Homeland Security was protecting the interests of u.s. citizens.. 'cepting the money interest of the powerful.. Oh, foolish me.. That IS america. Citizens aren't such anymore.. they are simply 'consumers'.. or, pigeons to be plucked (predator anaolgy ;-))

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6. God on May 30, 2005 11:55 AM writes...

Listen my children, the meaning of life is 00-283.. in time, you shall understand.

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7. God on May 30, 2005 12:08 PM writes...

Listen my children, this is your God...

Heaven is in danger, the Sentinals are nearby.

Help us defend heaven.. kill yourself and join the United Forces of Heaven.
When entering Heaven, you will be prompt to choose a Human Name and HAC (Heaven Access Code), both are case-sensitive.

Yours faithfully,

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8. The Real GOD on May 31, 2005 03:18 AM writes...

I can understand, nothing will ever get better. Goverment control will only get worse. All civil liberys will cease to exist. For a conservitive gov. it sure is getting really Fucking big.

I watched the (all christian org.) 700 club to day. They are proevil, proslaughtering Iraqies, prowar and pro giving away all of our freedoms. Stupid MF's you've a better chance of getting hit by lightning 5x a day for the rest of your life, before you would be a victim of a terrorist attack!!!!

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9. Tom Mariner on June 3, 2005 01:21 PM writes...

s mediocre lawyer can beat a world class techie any day! In the US.

The business laws of natural selection have been perverted where the more efficient and useful lose to the entrenched. I wonder if the dinosaurs developed a class that just enforced rules?

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