12.01.2011

Break Out Your Scramble Suits!

Be worried, America. For years a sinister threat has been creeping through our neighborhoods, waging war on all the good, decent, hardworking values we as Americans hold so dear to our hearts. There's true strife in this nation these days, and it's affecting some of our fellow Americans severely. Finally, Attorney General Eric Holder has stepped forward and done something dramatic: He's asking you, us, and every other red-blooded American to stand up and fight for what's right in this country.

By reporting each other for intellectual property offenses, like downloading music or torrenting movies.

Yes, there's even a website where you can fill out a handy form detailing your accusations so someone, presumably Comcast-clad stormtroopers, can come smash down your neighbor's door for trying to catch up on old episodes of Full House or, more likely, sue them.

This is where we're at, America. The economy's fighting to keep its head above water, there is open social disobedience in cities across the country protesting the distribution of wealth, we are engaged in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Libya, and Yemen, and no one can agree on ANY way to even ADDRESS any of this stuff, much less fix it. And now the Attorney General, the top law enforcement officer in the nation, wants you to narc on your pals for refusing to pay money just to hear the train wreck that is Lou Reed and Metallica.

"We can all be part of the solution," he cheerily reminded Americans everywhere, adding that the government "won't be able to win this fight and keep pace with today's criminals alone." I'd like to subtract the word "alone" from that sentence. This is an unwinnable battle. I'll grant you that IP holders' rights need to be protected; as a creator of "intellectual" property, I have a vested interest in convincing each and every one of you to be hyper-vigilant, McCarthy-ist attack dogs chomping at the bit to protect my blog about yelling at woman in the airport from being illegally shared or a podcast where I eat a nasty grilled cheese from being downloaded and stored on someone's iPod for their own sick viewing pleasure. But it's a stupid idea and a really slippery slope.

I consider myself to be reasonably sane, politically. Yes, a lot of you would disagree with my political stances, but I come by them honestly and based on the information I can research and confirm, and not stuff like, "The Illuminati want to get rid of bananas so as to weaken everyone's skeletal structure, which is why I'm voting for ___." That said, it's REALLY hard to not to fall into "conspiracy nut" mode when the wheels seem to be flying off and the Attorney General wants me to distract myself witch-hunting for my neighbors.

The RIAA claims they lose $12 billion a year to piracy. That's insane. Seriously. Go to iTunes. Most songs are still $0.99, right? Okay, round it up to a dollar a song. That's 12 billion songs. There are only 300 million (and change) people in this country. That's including the more than 70 million people in this country who don't use the internet at all. That's including the more than 60 million Americans who are under 14 years old. That's including the more than 40 million people who are over 65. So according to the RIAA, piracy costs them the equivalent of EVERY LIVING HUMAN BEING IN THE COUNTRY buying over 40 songs legally. Every year.

And how are they arriving at that estimate, exactly? Is every download a lost sale? What about the person who downloads a track, decides they love it, and buys the album? What about the person who torrents a movie and loves it so much they go out and buy a poster or t-shirt or other merch, thereby becoming a living, walking billboard for the product?

I realize just because I hate the RIAA doesn't mean they don't have a right to exist and do whatever it is they do that allegedly contributes to the world, but the timing is too much not to notice. People are finally starting to wise up to the fact that one conglomerate controls both parties and trying to find a way to instigate some change in that regard, and now we're told to be good citizens and help media magnates arrest and litigate anyone who might dare oppose them.

What the actual fuck?

No comments: