Avast mateys! Sunday September 19th was Talk Like A Pirate Day. It’s always the 19th of September.
Kids (of all ages) around the world revel in a whole day in which they can “Talk Like A Pirate”. Arrr. Be a pirate. Sing and play pirate songs like the Arrogant Worms classic pirate tune Last Saskatchewan Pirate. Dress up in pirate gear. There is even an online Pirate Translator for assistance with pirate talking. It is nothing to do with politics, or copyright. The point of “Talk Like A Pirate Day” is fun. Yo ho ho.
This year, not so much.
The MPAA has been unsuccessfully trying to convince people that sharing is a bad thing by spending vast sums of money on ‘anti-piracy’ advertising. Of course it doesn’t help that they what they call piracy is not just commercial bootlegging, but includes personal use sharing and any number of things that users feel justified in doing. (Some copyright “reformers” say that we need to purchase copies of the same book for every member of the family.) Or format shifting. (Some copyright “reformers” say we should purchase copies of the same song for every device we would play it on.)
Although this campaign to make people think that piracy is terrible has been largely unsuccessful with citizen consumers, in combination with massive lobbying efforts it seems to have worked with governments. The USA passed the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), the UK passed the Digital Economy Act (DEAct), and the Canadian government continues to push ahead in the face of almost universal opposition to it’s Canadian DMCA Bill C-32. The MPAA /RIAA has also been pushing the secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in an attempt to make an end run around WIPO, previously the way to achieve international copyright treaties. Although not perfect, at least the WIPO process was transparent. Even so, none of these laws are easy to uphold in the face of such widespread citizen dissatisfaction. The DMCA has been repeatedly amended in response to court challenges to various anti-democratic aspects over the 12+ years of its operation.
So the MPAA hired Aiplex Software to go beyond the law, and use what is called a “Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack” to take down websites they allege infringe copyright. I believe this is done by overwhelming the site with traffic. I think that’s a bad thing. And apparently I’m not alone.
“Girish Kumar, managing director of Aiplex Software, a firm in India, told this website that his company, which works for the film industry, was being hired – effectively as hitmen – to launch cyber attacks on sites hosting pirated movies that don’t respond to copyright infringement notices sent to them by the film industry.”
“Following a call to arms yesterday, the masses inhabiting the anonymous 4chan boards have carried out a huge assault on a pair of anti-piracy enemies. The website of Aiplex Software, the anti-piracy outfit which has been DDoSing torrent sites recently, is currently down having been DDoS’d. They are joined in the Internet wasteland by the MPAA’s website, also currently under huge and sustained attack.”
I don’t know about the MPAA but I did see that the Aiplex site was indeed down yesterday. Today both are back up, as is the Pirate Bay site.
When the MPAA employs Aiplex to attack other sites, it makes the MPAA look very bad.
And the urge to retaliate is a natural human instinct. But striking back at your attacker isn’t always the best course of action. In this case, it doesn’t really help. In fact, replying in kind makes ‘pirates’ look bad.
Instead of talking about the great Software Freedom Day we had yesterday, people online were talking about DDoS attacks.
And suddenly it wasn’t any fun to talk like a pirate.
That’s too bad. Because raising awareness among those who might fall prey to misleading ‘piracy’ propaganda is important.
One constructive way to fight against bad law is to get involved politically. The European Union currently has two elected Pirate Party members. At this point pretty nearly every country in the world has a Pirate Party at some stage of development. (The United States has two. Coincidence? I think not.)
I believe that The Pirate Party of Canada is gearing up to register candidate(s) for the impending Federal Election, which is the last step in achieving ‘official party status’. Just the name “Pirate Party” draws attention to the issue. The point is not to engender lawlessness, but rather to fight for sane copyright reform.
When I went to check if Pirate Bay was down yesterday, I got a glimpse of one of the best ways to fight against the negative propaganda being peddled by the MPAA.
This is of course is the real reason the MPAA is so eager to shut down p2p sites like The Pirate Bay. The MPAA needs to kill or control this new distribution medium because it means that film makers don’t need a Hollywood monopoly to distribute their movies. Making effective use of this distribution channel to legally distribute movies is a far more effective way of fighting the MPAA.
[If you're aware of any movies, videos, music, books and art that make use of or plan to use Internet p2p distribution and/or creative commons licensing please let me know so I can add them to the list I'm compiling of of the new media. Thanks! ---laurel]