Trichordist Inaugural Nyan Cat Award- Mitch Stoltz of Electronic Frontier Foundation

Trichordist’s Inaugural Nyan Cat Award For Web Based Idiocy.

This weeks winner is Mitch Stoltz a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.   I caught him rudely and incorrectly lecturing someone on facebook.

Mitch Stoltz … Prove that the Pirate Bay is actually harming artists in any significant way, and that more copyright law will remedy that harm, and that new law will work better than market-based solutions like offering more lawful entertainment that’s easy to buy and use at reasonable prices. Then we’ll talk.

First Mitch Stoltz  you are a lawyer and you should know better.  The Pirate Bay and their ilk are  using artists copyrights without permission. You should know that in itself is a violation of the law and by definition is a “harm”. Taking away the artists right to chose how, where and when to exploit their own copyrights is “harm”.  The artist doesn’t have to show some other sort of “harm”.  Are you saying that any for-profit website should just be able to use an artist’s song however they want without compensation or permission until the artist  shows something like economic harm?  Where did you get your law degree?

Okay let me give you the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe what you actually meant was  “economic harm”.  Prove piracy economically harms artists? You are joking right?  It’s been proven time and time again.  There are 14 academic peer reviewed studies that conclude  piracy has a negative effect on revenue.  There is a very recent peer reviewed academic  meta-study by Stan Liebowitz (2011) which reviews the data from virtually all the academic studies and comes to the same conclusion.  I will gladly have copies sent to your offices if you can’t find them on the web.  But may I humbly suggest you venture outside the anti-copyright echo chamber every once in a while and you might learn something.

Regarding your implication that un-authorized exploitation  is the result of no one “offering more lawful entertainment that is easy to buy at reasonable prices?”   Have you never heard of iTunes?  Amazon? MOG?, Pandora?, Rhapsody?, Spotify? Netflix? Hulu?  How can you argue this  with a straight face?  Unauthorized file sharing exists because people get music for free and file-sharing sites make money from advertising or “premium” accounts.  Not because they are offering a better service.   This is a phony argument.  You know it.  I know it.  We all know it.  Be a decent human being and stop using it.

And please don’t throw around the term “market solutions”  unless you are prepared to honestly analyze the entire unauthorized use industry in the same light.  Unauthorized use takes away the right of artists to participate in the free market by forcing them to compete with free versions of their own products.  Refusing to enforce existing copyright  law and allowing rampant unauthorized  use amounts to mass collectivization.  A sort of digital maoism and that, my friend is the opposite of “free markets”.

Further the for-profit-unauthorized-use industry is what inhibits the formation of additional legal media sites. Not the other way around. Basic common sense should tell you this.  Why would people buy cars legally if they could get stolen ones for free with no threat of social or legal punishment?  Who’s gonna open a new car dealership?  This is the same nasty quirk of human nature that makes normal law abiding citizens loot.   Arguing that nothing is to be done in this situation is an unethical and immoral choice that YOU are consciously making.

What people like you refuse to understand: How are individual independent artists supposed to take on the entire for-profit un-authorized use industry?  99 percent of the people harmed by file sharing are the independent artists, the audio engineers, the roadies,  the independent recording studios, the independent and specialty labels, the independent record stores, the independent publicists, the bus drivers etc etc.  The vast majority of people harmed by unauthorized exploitation of artists rights are not rich and powerful. Unlike the EFF they do not have washington lobbyists to argue their case or employ staff lawyers to troll the internet arguing for their rights. The working class of the music business do not have foundations that receive large corporate donations to help them fight for their rights. The 99% are the 99%!  The basic point of the law and civilization is to protect the weak from the corrupt and powerful. When you were an idealistic young law student could you ever imagine that one day you would be arguing against the weak and powerless and for the corrupt and powerful?    How do you sleep at night?

I know what you are gonna argue next.  May I?

You agree with me on artists rights but inhibiting access to websites that  enable unauthorized file sharing, human trafficking, underage prostitution, counterfeit drugmaking and  child pornography will require “breaking the internet”.   In addition you will argue that there is something deep in the architecture of the web that will not allow any filtering of the web that won’t also be a danger to free speech.   I’ve got that right? Right?

This is absolute bullshit.  And I should know.  I was pushing and “acking” packets back when there was only TCP  without the IP.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about you can’t possibly know anything about the architecture of the internet.  There is nothing in the architecture of the internet that makes policing and free speech incompatible.  Anyone that that says otherwise does not know what they are talking about or they are willfully misleading the public under color of technological authority. 

To those that are not technologically savvy,  this is like saying that you can’t have any sort of traffic laws on the US Interstate Highway System because it will inhibit our freedom.

What the glassy eyed internet “freedom” types do not understand is that it’s not “the pipes’ of the internet that give us free speech.  It’s our democratically empowered institutions that give us free speech.   Plenty of dictatorships have “free” pipes.  What good is a “free” internet if the secret police come to your house and murder you for speaking out?  or Anonymous takes down your website for saying something they dislike?  According to your own organization Mexico has one of the most open and free internets on the planet.  Yet bloggers in the northern states routinely self censor so the criminal cartels won’t murder them.

Remember we had freedom before there was an internet.

Final question: Is it really the Electronic Frontier Foundations position that The Pirate Bay and other artist exploitation sites do not harm artists?  Cause I’d love to debate you on that.  We can do it at the University of Georgia next fall. I’ll see if I can get the Law School to sponsor it.   You game?  I’ll give you the Nyan Cat Award at the same time.