Yes, while this Christmas 2011 has been over-shadowed by big corporations making power grabs at the expense of the freedom and privacy of American citizens, I do think it’s important to recognize those that have made it possible to fight back…So to the incompetent, stupid, and just plain greedy big media tools that have acted so boldly as to make it grossly obvious what you’re doing, a special thanks. Without groups like Righthaven, the RIAA, UMG, and all those pocket congressmen that don’t know how to use the Internet – we’d be slowly loosing freedom to a massive big media monopoly. Your ignorance, frivolous attacks, and poorly researched statistics won’t be forgotten; you have made Big Media look petty bad and totally out of control in the eyes of the American people.
Here’s my TOP 5!
1) Righthaven: Let’s thank this big media watchdog which started it all in what could have been the single most significant attack on personal freedom in the name of IP ever conducted; only to result in them demonstrating in court that they were incapable of targeting offenders directly without mistakes, lacked the conviction to follow through in a drawn out hearing, that they were trying to use the court to extort money from innocent private citizens pre-trial, and leading other trolls into similar badly planned business models. Thanks largely to this incompetence, bloggers on ArsTechnica, and similar sites created a backlash against Righthaven and Big media that quickly proved that they were incapable of taking what they dished out. Through their malfeasance future legal initiatives by big media companies were trivialized and the issue of privacy brought to the public eye. What’s more, rather than tackle infringement directly, several watchdog groups and advocates for the porn industry followed Righthaven’s lead while their success was in question with their own mass mailings over copyright infringement and as they also attempted to embarrass citizens into paying massive pre-trial settlements the whole lot were sequencially shot down due to publicity surrounding thiss flagrant misuse of the law. Thanks to their lack of tact and good sense these practices were exposed as simple extortion and became one of the biggest nails in the coffin for using IP tracking in identifying offenders.
2) Universal Music Group: Fortunately being small like Righthaven doesn’t give you an exclusive on stupidity and poorly planned litigation so UMG has done much to hurt it’s own cause as well. Thanks to poor legal planning and an unprovoked attack on Megavideo; UMG managed to get a federal judge actually defend the DMCA, weakening big media’s position further, and saying the “safe harbor” act applied to services to spite users uploading videos that infringed on their intellectual property. Plus let’s not forget that by issuing takedowns on all manner of YouTube videos, Megavideo ads, and other content they proved that Big Media was incapable of properly using even the small amount of authority they currently had without abusing it and revealed back alley deals with YouTube and other companies which Google had to quickly distance themselves from. Heavily tied into both the MPAA and RIAA, UMG has also been the driving force behind a number of bills; which to spite hostile public opinion, UMG continues to forcibly press through congress. Not only did this stir the American people to begin consideration of anti-copyright\ pro-privacy legislation but also exposed and undermined the credibility of many of the politicians promoting their legislation and has caused less people to go to the movies as America boycotts Hollywood.
3) Rep. Lamar Smith: As a tea party candidate and Republican representative for Texas we have to thank Rep. Lamar Smith for the pandering and lobbying he has done so shamelessly for big media in Hollywood which is so overt and unrelated to his own constituents interests in Texas that it has given us a textbook example of congressional corruption. Unlike more subtle lobbyists, he’s admitted publically he doesn’t understand the technology he’s proposing to regulate and stated he doesn’t care. He proposed SOPA, supported the AT&T\T-mobile merger to spite duopoly concerns, advocated for both Protect IP and the Internet Freedom Act in an effort to prevent Net Neutrality laws, proposed the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011” then riddled it with provisions to enforce media copyright, and called those that supported net neutrality “nerds” and SOPA concerns “irrelavent”. He even tried to ban peer-to-peer networks in 2004. This level of flagrant douchiness regarding the data of private citizens may have labeled him Hollywood’s favorite Republican, but it also undermined his credibility and resulted in close scrutiny of any bills across the board he chose to advocate on, even those with misleading names promising job creation, protecting revenue, or other such loaded terms of economic prosperity without any real relationship to what the bill is actually doing.
4) The EU: By extending copyright on music to 70 years big media pushed through largely in secret, a bill that stifled creative expression and encouraged flagrant piracy. Discouraging to consumers and artists a-like this largely politicized this thinly veiled attempt by big media to supposedly protect the original artists probably encouraged, rather than discouraged more piracy on the part of the general population even outside Europe providing a rationalization that terms of copyright are across the board oppressive and unfair.
5) The RIAA: Still obsessed with VCR’s and TIVO boxes the movie industry has only recently gotten organized and started attacking private citizens over the Internet, but for the RIAA it’s old hat. Putting aside that statistics on music sales and the impact of file sharing have consistently run counter to any claims that the RIAA has presented, even those they themselvevs sponsor; we have to thank them for their report card on Google. A laughable complaint, it made the overall initiative of big media to force others to police their content look hopeless, imposing, petty, and unfair. Had it targeted someone less high profile, they might have changed something; but to suggest the largest search provider in the world rewrite their entire search algorithm to hide results, was bold. Now doing something similar on even a smaller search provider would be fruitless.