The copyright industry will complain that they only take action for the illegal bitpatterns found, and that there is no infraction on the right to legal communications. And in doing so, they put themselves in the exact same spot as the old East German Stasi, which also steamed open all letters sent in the mail – but only took action on those with illegal content, just like the copyright industry describes as their preferred scenario. Stasi, too, sorted legal from illegal, and left the legal alone.
Pirate Bay’s neo-Nazi sugar daddy
For me, there are two interesting aspects to this peculiar, and very selective silence.
One is that anti-copyright activists like to think of themselves as thoroughly decent, forward-thinking progressive people – because the internet is a new democracy, they’re reflecting a fairer world. They like to contrast the hygenic efficiency of the technology with the old (and implicitly corrupt) copyright businesses. It’s almost a badge of moral superiority.
But like the Futurists a hundred years ago – the original Freetards – they don’t mind jumping into bed with neo-Nazis when it suits them. In this case, that’s so long as the free music and movies keep flowing.
The second is WiReD‘s choice of Oscar Schwartz to file courtroom dispatches from the Pirate Bay trial. He’s the only English language courtroom reporter, and bloggers and professional publications take their cue from his reports.
But Schwartz describes himself as “a leading critic of intellectual property” and an activist. His reports duly fulfil the caricature of plucky freedom fighters and bungling prosecutors that fellow activists (and some journalists) want to read.
“The fact it is represented by four young, rebellious and innovative guys all adds to the image of the rock’n'rollers facing up to the The Man,” drooled Guardian blogger Jemima Kiss, who omits to mention the Fourth Man isn’t particularly young – or looks great in jackboots. “Whatever happens at the end of this case, Pirate Bay wins.”
When you invite activists to do your reporting for you, you can be sure that if a fact has an unpleasant odour, it won’t be reported – no matter how important it may be.