Posts tagged argumentation
Posts tagged argumentation
To what extent is it reasonable that when the government makes an independent allegation of copyright infringement, we complain that only the rightsholders can make that determination, but when they act on information received from a rightsholder organization, we complain about them being blind puppets?
Not, of course, that the MPAA holds many copyrights itself; its members do. To what extent does that change the equation?
Of course, this essay fails to mention that the private analog sharing mentioned was also illegal, and it completely fails to address the question of public communications of illegal material (which is, I suspect, what most copyright enforcement measures are directed against … because the postal secret still exists). So, while the point is not entirely invalid, it’s presented in a deceptive and reductivist manner.
In particular, those judges will be looking at possible incompatibilities with the EU’s “fundamental rights and freedoms.” But that, of course, is the last thing INTA wants the judges to think about:
INTA hopes that the European Court of Justice will make a considered and quick assessment of ACTA, acknowledge the serious threats that counterfeiting and piracy pose for the EU and provide the necessary clarity to pave the way for consent to the Treaty by the European Parliament and ratification by Member States.
Counterfeiting and piracy are on the rise and constitute serious threats to consumers, legitimate businesses and innovators. ACTA is instrumental for tackling these issues
Interestingly, this hits on one of the criticisms I usually level against people with my own values, not my opponents: Just because something is right or a good policy idea does not mean that the courts should mandate or uphold it, especially in cases about a legal issue where “good policy” doesn’t enter in the equation. However, the error is usually made by someone arguing their own moral ideology as a universal standard of righteousness and justice before which all minor issues like constitutionality must bow, not someone arguing that “Is it good for the economy?” is the standard for judicial review.
One of the frustrating things about the SOPA/PIPA debate was the way that defenders of the bill tried so hard to dodge the censorship label. However, as Professor Derek Bambauer helpfully pointed out months ago, any form of content blocking by the government a href=”http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111014/03284916352/why-cant-protect-ip-supporters-just-admit-that-its-about-censorship.shtml”>is censorship. It’s just a question of whether or not it’s acceptable censorship—and, most people are comfortable with some level of censorship. But SOPA/PIPA defenders often refuse to admit this… hiding behind some claim about how since infringement is illegal, it’s not censorship.
But this misses the point: every form of government censorship is based on the claim that the censored content is “illegal” in some manner.
Harold Feld has made a very important point that has been totally ignored in the debate over the state of the recorded music business. In Cary Sherman’s diatribe about how the evil tech industry is destroying the music industry, not only does he pretend that recorded music is representative of the wider music industry’s situation (it’s not… at all), but he seems to have carefully chosen the date of 1999 as his starting point for the supposed “collapse.” Why? Because in 1999 the major record labels (i.e., exactly who the RIAA represents) were charged with illegal price fixing… a practice they then agreed to cease. And, of course, when you stop price fixing, generally speaking your revenue goes down[.]
Remember all that talk of how the supporters of SOPA/PIPA were “humbled” by the protests of January 18th, and how they had learned their lessons about trying to push through a bill without actually involving the stakeholders? Remember the talk of how they hoped a new tone could be found in the debate? Yeah. Apparently someone forgot to send that memo to RIAA boss Cary Sherman, who has taken to the pages of the NY Times to lash out at those who fought against SOPA/PIPA, chalking the whole thing up to a massive “misinformation” campaign by Google and Wikipedia. The whole thing is chock full of ridiculous claims, so we might as well go through it bit by bit.
If you’d like the full-length refutation, there you go. (Read after I’d written my spur-of-the-moment rant posted a few minutes ago.)
“The hyperbolic mistruths, presented on the home pages of some of the world’s most popular Web sites, amounted to an abuse of trust and a misuse of power. When Wikipedia and Google purport to be neutral sources of information, but then exploit their stature to present information that is not only not neutral but affirmatively incomplete and misleading, they are duping their users into accepting as truth what are merely self-serving political declarations.”
No fan of the RIAA, much less SOPA, but this in particular is an interesting point.
Any attempt by pro-SOPA lobbyists to claim the high moral ground in the protests—which they still insist on claiming was entirely the work of a few large corporations rather than a genuine public outcry that those corporations got involved with late in the game—is absolutely, categorically bullshit, and I do not swear lightly. Let me explain:
The Wikipedia community debated this extensively and agreed that while articles are neutral, the organization can and does have political views regarding issues that affect it and its mission (and it does have a mission). The protest announcement clearly drew that distinction. Google’s search results are neutral (despite pressure from the RIAA), but the organization has a Chief Internet Evangelist and a motto that suggests that they do believe that some positions are better than others. The movie companies “just” produce movies, but they have the MPAA. The music companies “just” produce music, but they have the RIAA.
The TV networks he mentions later didn’t just stay neutral; they avoided covering what was a fairly major story in the making, which is can be in itself a form of bias. (Do we in the library world really have to be reminded of the power of censorship to stifle dissent by pretending that both the issue and the protest never happened?) When one of them did do a piece, the representative for the pro-SOPA side was the general counsel of NBCUniversal, which owned the show doing it. And need we mention Creative America? The TV companies didn’t use their soapbox because they didn’t want to draw attention to public protests against their corporate interests by acting as a corporation; instead, they tried recruiting all of their employees into an astroturf campaign.
And speaking of “hyperbolic mistruths, presented on the home pages of some of the world’s most popular Web sites, […] information that is not only not neutral but affirmatively incomplete and misleading, […] duping their users into accepting as truth what are merely self-serving political declarations,” well, there’s this link going ‘round to a misleading and misinformation-filled Op-Ed by a professional corporate advocate in one of the world’s most trusted newspapers… .
Oh, look, the CEO of the RIAA still doesn’t get it. At least he wrote this in an Op-Ed, where he admits that he can present hyperbolic mistruths, incomplete and misleading information, and other “editorial opinions” as fact.
Allow me to join the chorus of people who wish Cory Doctorow would stop writing headlines that are inaccurate (frequently according to the very post they’re headlining!), sensationalistic, and portray events as proving his worldview more than they actually do. They make us look bad and turn many reasonable people off, which just costs us public support on issues that can only be solved through concerted public action. Moreover, some people will simply stop trusting any claims anyone on our side of the argument makes once they realize that the headlines they keep seeing from a high profile member of our side of the argument can’t be trusted. When a key component of many of our arguments are that the opposition is making up its facts, it seriously hurts our credibility to have any sort of inaccuracy in our own, however minor by comparison.