The Aereo Supreme Court decision, which I embrace and rejoice in, has brought all the pirates and copyleftists and crypto anarchists out of the woodwork to scream about how "innovation" has been stifled and even "free speech" and how the Internet is being "broken" by evil people.
Oh, stuff and nonsense -- and here's the thing, a lot of this is driven by one group, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and then its various clones or front groups or spin-offs, from the original gang starring Tiffaniy Cheng sponsored by Mitch Kapor, which today includes Fight for the Internet, Demand Progress, Access, and Foundation for Freedom of the Press, which is where some of the EFF staff have migrated.
It doesn't matter if these groups have separate registrations or even the connective tissues aren't always so visible, or even, for mysterious reasons not disclosed, Mitch Kapor doesn't fund them anymore and has left EFF. They are all part of an ideological coalition, funded by Silicon Valley giants like Google as well as philanthropists like Soros, and they are a certain political tendency.
Parker Higgins -- the very same EFF operative I debated vigorously on Twitter, mentioned by none other than Snowden himself in a blog post under his pseudonym "Cincinnatus" back in November 2012 when he was announcing the Crypto Party to be attended by none other than Tor's Runa Sandvik -- has a blog post up titled "The Troubling Truth of Why It’s Still So Hard to Share Files Directly" lamenting the Aereo decision, praising the "innovation" of Snowden's file mule Micah Lee (who works with Greenwald now) who invented a direct file exchange gadget that bypasses platforms and rules.
So here's my answer, which explains what I've long meant for the last ten years of blogging regarding EFF's antipathy to freedom and democracy:
Answer: because you don't own the copyright on the content you are "sharing," i.e. stealing and redistributing for your own political or business agenda. Micah Lee is also helping in the process of "sharing" Snowden's files which were stolen from a liberal democratic government for no good purpose. No civil rights violations have ever been found in this last year; instead, serious damage to relations with allies and tremendous advantage for enemies like Russia has occurred instead.
Let's hope that the content companies go after Onion App as they have ever other version of a copybot that exists because of course it's not going to be used for sending recipes, it's going to be used for stealing and circulating digital content mainly from the entertainment sector.
Copyleftsts love to indulge in the sophistry that "sharing" isn't "stealing" as the hapless owner of the content rights is "left with his original". But of course it *is* stealing in a very real sense because it is theft of the ability to commodify content, and loss of the exclusivity of that right. Infringement is still theft in a very real and normal sense. The Aereo decision ought to help drive that home, once you wave away the smoke and mirrors of the Pirate Party trying to obfuscate this basic fact -- they hijacked content other companies paid for to make their own money off ads, i.e. they followed the Google model which we're supposed to pretend represents "innovation".
Let me take this opportunity to mention once again why the Electronic Frontier Foundation is such a pernicious outfit, and has been since it started litigating for phone phreakers and has continued to litigate the Snowden agenda until they found Snowden. It truly is ideologically, one of the greatest threats to liberal democracy and the greatest advancers of the crypto-anarcho agenda today. You do not want to live in a world where they take power, believe me.
They start with undermining the rule of law on copyright, since it gets in the way of the highway robbery business model of Silicon Valley, whose interests it essentially represents even if a non-profit "movement".
They continue claiming that copyright violation isn't breaking the law, but "free speech" and therefore to be "protected" -- which further undermines the rule of law and common sense. Breaking the law -- then pretending it wasn't that, but a civil "right".
Having thus broken up two fundamental pillars of democracy -- the rule of law and the meaning of free speech and civil rights -- they then naturally head toward national security, pretending that stealing classified secrets is "whistleblowing" and a kind of "liberation". In other words, it's revolutionary anarchy, a big power grab from Washington to Moscow (as Neal Cassady once put it), which they have smugly cloaked in "rights" terms and law-faring to conceal their agenda.
Parker has never adequately answered the question of how Edward Snowden came to get an EFF sticker on his laptop.
Parker and the rest of the EFF operatives should have the courage of their convictions, and stop pretending that they are about "rights" or "law" or "technical innovation". They're for revolution, and overthrowing capitalist corporations and for replacing them with communist collectives. Where they think the content and money will come from after they're done is beyond me. Good luck, comrades.
Now, that may not be clear, and people hate it when you state things starkly, in candid ideological polemics, because they think you shound like a 1950s anti-communist recruitment poster scaremongering with Bolsheviks in Your Bathroom.
I really don't care. Because that's how you have to fight people who are constantly attempting to use language to reconstruct reality, like Humpty Dumpty, getting a thing to mean what they say, and who are using frivolous and malevolent litigation with a political agenda to try to overturn democratic institutions. I think it's more than fine to speak in this manner, as starkly as you need to. I don't care if you think it has to be said in more nuanced tones -- you go do that.
And it's important to realize that the dogs are not really barking quite so hard about Aereo -- Forbes has an article explaining the "myths" of the dramatic reaction to Aereo and "venture communist" Fred has a very muted statement on Aereo given the jihad he has run for years against the cable companies. All important to note.
Some idiot named Andrew Norton who runs the Pirate Party in the US (which has...50 members, does it?) is ranting at me on Twitter.
One of the things these characters always do is reach for two very lame, very tired, very threadbare arguments (which I've heard for 10 years, so they are particularly worn out for me).
First, they tell you with vicious know-it-all glee that you are "ignorant" and "don't understand the law" because you refer to "theft" or "stealing" regarding copyright, and in fact "the law" says it is "infringement of rights" and "not" stealing.
Well, this is sophistry, of the sort I've routinely dealt with in my posts like Twelve Unconvincing Arguments of Copyrightists and Pirates.
And my little infograph, crude but effective, on why piracy *is* stealing from an article asking why Kim Dotcom isn't in jail:
Pirates always tell you this idiotic thing:
They think they are so clever stating this literalalist, bi thinking "factoid".
To which I say:
Piracy and copyright "infringement" -- a word that already sounds like it is a lesser offense than a crime -- steals the value of a thing, your ability to SELL it, which is a GOOD property for digital content to have, since not everyone wants to live in the share-bear collective commune of Creative Communism, but wants to earn a living, you know, like Silicon Valley coders and people in non-profit groups advocating copyleftism do.
Second, they claim falsely that if you criticize them, you are putting a chill on speech, and if you oppose piracy, why, you are against democracy and progress. These arguments ought to self-discredit, but they are re-tweeted so often by other ignoramuses that you have to take pains to debunk them.
Any 12-year-old can go and read the court decision and grasp it -- it's not about "theft" in a technical sense and does not use that term but it doesn't matter -- because it's a wrong, a tort, a violation, a loss which is why there is a LAWSUIT, duh. District Attorney Carmen Ortiz, much hated by the crypto kids because she's the one who lawfully prosecuted Aaron Schwartz, said it best:
“Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars. It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away.”
In ABC vs. Aereo, the Supremes take you through the concept of "performance" and "copying" and so on and conclude that Aereo just doesn't fit their existing jurisprudence -- a whole area of law that the online lawyers seldom grasp because they think laws are literalist mechanisms that execute like code unambiguously, when in fact laws are in the context of judges and PRECEDENT which means humans constantly intepret it in light of both law and past decisions.
And indeed, Aereo is not "performing" when it automatically swipes signals and then enables customers to pick out what they want from the cloud.
The dissenting opinion in this case by Judge Scalia doesn't say that Aereo is right; in asking whether they are a copy shop or offering a library card, to use his analogies, he still says they are guilty of a wrong. It just says the law should be applied differently.
No matter. Aereo has had its ass handed to it by what still matters, the court system, and the litigators will have to gnash their teeth and live to try their destructive strategems another day.
No "innovation" was harmed in this episode because there's nothing innovative about thinking up yet another script that snags other people's content they paid to produce or made themselves to earn a living, and then hijacks it to sell against ads for their own business. This isn't innovation; it's highway robbery. Silicon Valley needs to get a new business model, not Hollywood or the paid content Internet or TV broadcasters.
As I always say at these moments -- stone soup, but who's bringing the turnip, guys?
Aereo is going to have to pay CBS and others for content it swipes, just like other businesses have to pay their business costs and not get stuff for free, you know, like Google on YouTube, as much as it still makes a killing off illegal uploads and playing the "catch me if you can" DMCA chase game.
We've had to hear a whole lot of nonsense about "technological innovation" -- crime -- not only trying to be decriminalized but turn into "rights" -- and unfortunatley this is getting new life now with the release of "The Internet's Own Boy" about the life of Schwartz, and a revival of all the crazy exaggerations prevelant at the time of his death - that he faced "35" or even "50" years of jail -- although...he was released before trial on bail, ordered to get mental health services (a fact never admitted in the tech press), and was offered a six month sentence by the prosecutor in exchange for a guilty plea. Some 35 years...
Schwartz, like his more tenured and resourced ideological uncles, wanted to use language to change reality, and had a certain amount of Silicon Valley and Soros money to do so. But this linguistic assault, followed with the Occupy sort of real assault, hasn't (mercifully) been so successful (and was a tragedy for him and his family and friends personally).
The pirate Andrew Norton has also harassed me with this notion that if you criticize pirates, or these ideologies, you are "suppressing" speech. If I call for "pirates to be put in jail" -- they should be when they commit the crime of content piracy -- then I must be "against democracy" because Pirates have organized themselves into political parties and are even elected.
So what? They can't sanitize their crimes by being elected to political office. Good Lord, the pirates would be the first to call out people they don't like in parliament as crooks, and even find real crooks hiding in office. These people are SO much for democracy -- except when they're not. After trying to best you in an argument about piracy, telling you that pirates are elected to parliaments, five minutes later they will tell you that only 7% of the American people in the latest poll trust Congress, and therefore we must "route around" Congress, as one hacker put it, or "blow it up," as ideologue Beth Noveck memorably put it, figuratively, of course. They hate Congress or parliaments, do not think they are legitimate, and only play the game of elections as one anarchist strategy.
It's hardly suppression of free speech to advocate that people who commit crimes under the law be put in prison. As pirate leaders in fact are, in Europe. Good! And it's hardly suppression of speech to point out that people in cadre movements exploiting democracy politics with pernicious ideas antithetical to democracy should get some resistance for the sake of democracy itself. This story is as old as Bolshevisim.
SOPA should have been passed, because it provided a very good legal framework for how to handle this pernicious issue, by defining punishable piracy as not your grandmother downloading a Bible verse or your son downloading Game of Thrones, but:
o large quantity pirates
o repeated and persistent pirates who don't heed warnings
o pirates who monetarize their purloined content
o pirates who can't prove that dismantling the pirated content on their site is a technical difficulty.
o specific notorious repeat-offending piracy sites should be blocked
Read SOPA, few do. That's what it said, and it was eminently sensible, and we should bring it back.
So you may not share my thought processes on how a group that starts by trying to get phone phreaks off the hook and tries to stop government regulation of the actual weapon of cryptography, and moves on to aggressive litigating against government secrecy and copyright, winds up recruiting and aiding and abetting -- yes, literally financing and helping -- Edward Snowden. But this isn't exactly hidden material; it's all there on their websites.
Many go on yammering that all this destructive activity is in the realm of advocacy and free expression and democratic politics, and sure, some of it is. But increasingly I'm convinced some of it isn't, and I have faith that the institutions that still function in our democracy are going to prove me right.
Now, you may not have liked MY take on why EFF is evil -- but then, come on over to the Silicon Valley funded Pando, and see how the sectarian technolibertarian/technocommunists go and harass EFF for their own reasons: