Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The File Host as Cop

There has been much ado lately about copyrights. As there should be. The writer of a book, a song or a movie deserves full credit and any remuneration that work generates. It is theirs.

But when things aren’t copyrighted, and are merely the object of corporate derision, should the same laws apply? Should any law apply?

As noted in this blog before, I am a fan of concert bootlegs. This is not a casual, overnight hook-up, but a committed, twenty-four/seven, long-term relationship. These are recordings of bands and artists in whom I possess intense interest.

And as such, I have faithfully purchased every copyrighted offering, extravagantly enriching all concerned. While this doesn’t entitle me to free subway rides or a civil rights upgrade, it does make me and those like me passionate consumers of the brand.

And with so much corporate hand-wringing about customer retention and the overwhelming cost of bringing new customers to the door (especially in the struggling music industry), is ours really the fire they want to douse?

I speak of the wholesale deletion of Internet files by file hosts, based on some vague and nebulous notion of copyright violation. This fear was instilled by the now-infamous bust of MegaUpload by the F.B.I. last January at the behest of enormous entertainment conglomerates.

Despite my favorite music blogs routinely deleting officially-released tracks from their posts, they are just as routinely subjected to baseless threats and file deletion because they may have violated a copyright.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a direct quote. May have.

Put down your i-Phone for a moment and consider that. If the specter of business interpreting and enforcing law isn’t enough to induce involuntary bowel spasms, perhaps suspicion and supposition becoming scientifically-sustainable fact will.

Pick a name out of the phone book. Call the police. Then tell them this individual might have been speeding last Tuesday. Pretty far-fetched, isn’t it?

Then imagine them acting on it.

This is what happens on the Internet every day.

This is businesses idea of law enforcement. No facts. No proof. No clue. Just lots and lots of assumptions.

Bootlegs are a convenient, three-legged mutt to kick in lieu of capturing the elusive greyhound which is the real problem. It’s casual, path-of-least-resistance policing. Law from the nacho-stained cushions of a La-Z-Boy.

And—sodomites excepted—who can’t get behind that?

I freely admit that in the face of global warming, our stubbornly-anemic economy and ballooning income disparity that rivals that of a third-world nation, this is a fairly minor concern.

But I also have this silly idea that those who aren’t breaking the law shouldn’t be treated as if they were—especially by an entity completely unrelated to and educated in law enforcement.

But that’s just me.

Short cuts to any portion of our judicial process and the way we practice law are never, ever trivial. The interpretation and enforcement of law must always be separate from business. They can't ever overlap.

Because now we know what it’s like when they do.


  1. I am totally in agreement with you as I breath and live to collect such rare Jems of unofficial recordings that bring life to my dead soul!