Anyone who knows me, and by that I mean sees my rants on HackerNews or checks out my occasional highly opinionated blog posts, knows that I try where I can to stand up for the recording industry and copyright protections.  My thoughts on it are fairly straight forward.  If you want content that the creator releases only for sale, you should pay for it, or you are not entitled to a copy.  If they want to charge too much and make fewer sales, it is their right.  Your right is to not buy it.  It is no one’s right to decide that their price is too high, or that their delivery system is too inconvenient, but that they want their own illegal copy anyway.  Anyone who disagrees, frankly, can go fuck themselves.

A few weeks ago, a concerned citizen wrote to me saying that he hopes I will take a stand against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).  I have not, not because I support it, but for two reasons.  The first is that far bigger dogs than me are on both sides of this fight and my opinion isn’t going to have an impact.  But the other reason is that, for all the reasons that SOPA may be bad, I don’t see people in the technology community making real and productive proposals for how to solve the problems of copyright protection and piracy.

Until the tech community acknowledges more vocally and proactively that the DMCA is flawed and that the companies who provide them with the content that builds their businesses should not have to go through the pains they do to protect their interests, I won’t be the guy yelling that the recording industry is being unreasonable and should be stopped.  As long as tech stays at one end of the spectrum, I can’t fault media for for staying at the other.  And, I will tend to side with the media industry because, right now, they’re the underdog in the fight.  They’re the ones being abused by the lack of good laws and reasonable enforcement.  Many a tech company (ahem, Grooveshark) are doing just fine abusing the existing laws and making a lot of money on their backs.

That being said, I really wish the recording industry would stop making me look like an asshole.

You see, I support the recording industry.  I like owning recorded music.  And I support record labels, because many of the albums I love would not exist without label financing, and I might not know about them if not for label marketing and promotion.  I support copyright protection, because I know what it takes to create a product, and everyone should understand how much it sucks to have that product diluted by delinquents.

And because I support these things, I take a stand on many issues – often too firm of a stand, I will admit – but I take one because I think people in the music industry should speak up on behalf of artists and everybody who helps them, including labels.  (Those in the industry should also put their money where their mouth is, and I do, but that’s another topic for another time.)  That means that I repeatedly stick my neck out on behalf of content creators and those who also profit from their creations.

But then, as I repeatedly stick my neck out for the industry, the industry likes to be an asshole and make me look like an asshole by association.

You get people like Universal, who yanks down a Youtube video that they have no copyright claim to, simply because they don’t like it and they can.  This is suppression of free speech and a violation of the most important right in our country.

You get the RIAA estimating the damages of Limewire at $75 TRILLION dollars.  This basically makes me look like I support this biggest dumbfucks on the planet.

Then these idiots push to further infringe on the rights of others, by lobbying for a law that allows warrantless searches of CD replication plants.

On top of this, some labels have been found to regularly stiff artists on royalties, giving the general population plenty of ammunition for not paying for music because it’s going to thieves and not creators (even though there are thousands upon thousands of good and honest labels).

I could spend all day making a laundry list of all the embarrassing and harmful ways that the recording industry infringes on other peoples’ rights one day, while crying and whining about their rights in the other.  Instead, I’ll just say this:

Dear Recording Industry,

Your rampant infringement of the rights of others is counterproductive to your pleas for government and societal support of copyright protections.  Please, stop being dumbfucks.  You’re making it hard for me to help out without looking like an asshole by association.  Thanks.

Joey Flores
[email protected]
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