Was temporarily closing down hard-core corporate spin sites such as those run by the RIAA and MPAA, or blogs run by extortion lawyers such as Andrew Crossley, justifiable as legitimate protest?
Or did the interruptions in fact constitute attacks on freedom of speech?
“The FBI has launched an investigation into an online protest that allegedly took down numerous Web sites belonging to antipiracy and entertainment groups, as well as the U.S. Copyright Office”, says CNET.
“Over the past two months, a group calling itself ‘Anonymous,’ with links to the 4chan Web forum and image board, has launched distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) against Web sites operated by the Motion Picture Association of America, The Recording Industry Association (RIAA), Hustler magazine, rocker Gene Simmons, The British Phonographic Industry, and other similar groups in France, Australia, Spain and elsewhere.”
Earlier this year, a group of indie film companies, including Voltage Pictures, makers of the Oscar-winning motion picture, “The Hurt Locker,” began filing copyright complaints in federal court against thousands of accused illegal file sharers. More recently, adult film studios, such as Hustler and Third World Media, followed suit and filed similar lawsuits.
Also this year, the RIAA, the trade group for the four largest record labels, won court decisions that resulted in the dismantling of LimeWire, one of the country’s most popular file-sharing networks. Last week, the RIAA also saw a jury decide that Jammie Thomas-Rasset, an accused file-sharing mother from Minnesota, should pay $1.5 million in damages to the RIAA.
Meanwhile, as some on the file-sharing side have lashed out against the entertainment sector’s attempts to enforce copyright, which they claim limits free speech, some copyright owners say the Anonymous group and supporters are hypocrites. They note that the DDoS attacks do little more than silence dissenting opinion.
When Gene Simmons, bass player for the iconic rock band Kiss, spoke out recently against illegal file sharing, his site, Genesimmons.com suffered outages as a result of a DDoS attack by Anonymous.
People supportive of the entertainment industry took the opportunity to ask where was the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and other free-speech proponents when their sites were being gagged by Anonymous’ traffic. EFF advocates for Internet users and tech companies and is typically at odds with entertainment companies over copyright issues.
“The silence here is deafening,” said RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy. “Where’s the outrage? Apparently, not all First Amendment free speech rights are created equal. At best, it’s convenient indifference. At worst, it’s quiet cheerleading.”
A spokesman for the MPAA said: “It’s troubling that these groups seem more concerned about the rights of those who steal and copy films, music, books, and other creative resources than the rights of American workers who are producing these products.”
Rebecca Jeschke, an EFF spokeswoman fired right back: “We generally don’t comment on DDoS attacks, even when they happen to us. DDoS attacks get in the way of people seeing content they want to see on the Internet, and of course that’s not something we support. But we don’t comment on them in part because it gives these folks what they want–attention for their stunts. As for the entertainment industry calling on us to criticize it? This is just silly PR gamesmanship, used in place of talking about the real issues of copyright at play here.”
Jeschke’s statement is reflective of the controversy the DDoS attacks have stirred even among some of file sharing’s staunchest supporters.
Mike Masnick, founder of the blog Techdirt, wrote in September that the attacks were “dumb” and “don’t make any real point.” The tech news site, Ars Technica, has also been critical of the DDoS campaign.
‘Where’s the outrage?’
The article is a complete misrepresentation of the realities.
The attacks were hardly numerous, and far from depriving anyone or anything of the ability to speak freely, were transitory and did little or nothing to impede the flow of ‘information’ from the RIAA, MPAA, or anyone else.
These two groups rely entirely on mis- and disinformation ‘press’ releases and specious statements which are continually fed to the mainstream media who then repeat them wholesale as though they come from credible and reliable sources.
There’s nothing in the way of information there; just bullshit.
“Where’s the outrage?” – asks Lamy.
It’s there, and it’s been there for years, expressed against the RIAA for the way in which it’s been allowed to brutalise families across America with phony copyright infringement claims.
But until recently, no one was listening.
The DDOS attacks re-focused attention to the kinds of travesties which have been going on not for weeks, but for decades.
And the entrance of the FBI is yet another striking example of the manner in which the entertainment cartels are so easily able to suborn taxpayer-funded agencies, wasting scarce resources and manpower which should be used wholly for the public good, not for purely corporate businesses.
Says the EFF’s Jeschke, “As for the entertainment industry calling on us to criticize it? This is just silly PR gamesmanship, used in place of talking about the real issues of copyright at play here.”
The CNET article is more of the same.
We owe 4chan / Anonymous not condemnation, but thanks for once again forcing the issues.
Jon Newton – p2pnet
CNET – FBI probes 4chan’s ‘Anonymous’ DDoS attacks, November 9, 2010
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi
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