The prestigious Security For All Admiral James Norrington award [named for the primary antagonist in Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies] for most entertaining and ludicrous battle against piracy goes to Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) CEO Mitch Bainwol for his unmitigated audacity in spinning reality well past the breaking point. In this article in techdirt honorary Admiral Bainwol is quoted as follows.
In January, Chinese hackers infiltrated the systems of the biggest technology dog on the global block and, according to the company, stole Google’s intellectual property
In texting parlance, Google has finally had an OMG! moment when it comes to intellectual property. Unfortunately, it took this theft of their IP to flip on the switch.
Frankly, Google has never been very warm to the idea of copyright protections. Google routinely has sided with the “free access” (more aptly the “free of charge”) crowd against those who actually create the intellectual property.
Remember the Big G’s idea to digitize every book in the world and put it in their digital library? That went over so well that Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild of America sued to stop Google from creating the virtual library.
Google argued that they were just trying to make the world a better place by making important works of literature available to people all over the globe. A rather egalitarian idea (unless you’re the authors and publishers who depend on people actually buying books in order for you to make a living).
What’s the effect of IP theft on the U.S. economy? First, let’s look at the IP industry’s share of the economy. A 2007 International Intellectual Property Alliance study found 11.7 million people working in the total copyright industries. That’s 8.51 percent of the U.S. workforce. These industries help drive our nation’s economy. In 2007, IP companies added $1.52 trillion or 11.05 percent to the GDP. When people say “we don’t make anything in America anymore,” just hit them with those facts.
Brilliant! Absolutely freaking brilliant! Where do you even begin to comment on something so thoroughly and patently asinine as the preceding foray out of Pirates of the Caribbean and into Fantasyland following the Pied Piper of Piracy Propaganda. While recognizing that I’m in the presence of a giant (moron), I humbly submit the following fact checks.
- The now infamous attack on Google [allegedly by Chinese hackers] was an exercise in corporate espionage. Since Google doesn’t produce “Intellectual Property” (IP) of the sort the RIAA is concerned with (music). The connection is more non-existent than tenuous.
- I’m quite certain that Google did have an “OMG!” moment. Only it was “OMG our famous security has been breeched and we’ve been hacked!” I’m also quite certain that more intrusive, fascist intellectual property laws wouldn’t have made a bit of difference in this case. Even assuming that Chinese hackers give a rodent’s patoot about those laws.
- It’s easy to imagine that Google has “never been very warm” to the RIAA’s idea of copyright protections, which are stupid and unworkable but I digress. What’s really amazing here is the assertion that those who provide free access to intellectual property – like say me when I give away my music at Christmas time – are “against those who actually create the intellectual property“. Now I’m having a WTF! moment.
- The lawsuit brought against Google by the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild of America was settled out of court not in small part because most authors found that when their books were available on Google books sales of the books actually increased. So I’m guessing that authors of books feel pretty much the same way about the AAP and AGA as musicians feel about the RIAA. Not warm and fuzzy.
- It’s hard to believe that anyone, even a consummate spinmeister like Admiral Bainwol, is still trotting out that tired old – and completely bogus – $1.52 trillion stat. In case you you were wondering that number is derived by taking any business that touches copyright, however marginally, and then assuming that all of the revenue they make is entirely due to copyright. Actually you could just quote Ed Black, from the Computer & Communications Industry Association who posited this equally absurd statistic derived in the same way “Businesses dependent upon exceptions to copyright contribute $2.2 trillion to the U.S. economy. They are responsible for one in eight jobs, for a total payroll of $1.2 trillion in 2006.“.
As if the preceding show of farce weren’t ridicules enough, it was followed up with another post covered in this article in techdirt wherein our honorary Admiral was quoted thusly.
The album ["Hope for Haiti Now"] is now widely available on illicit BitTorrent sites like The Pirate Bay, Torrentz and more. The posting highlights a truly ugly side of P2P piracy — the undermining of humanitarian fundraising efforts via online theft of the “Hope for Haiti Now” compilation. So much for the notion that illegal downloading (“sharing”) is an effort to help advance the plight of artists.
Wow! Just Wow. The boring and decidedly non-piratical facts are these:
- A group of popular musicians released the “Hope for Haiti Now” digital only album, with proceeds going to Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Oxfam America, Partners in Health, Red Cross, UNICEF, United Nations World Food Programme, and Yele Haiti Foundation in the wake of the devastating earthquake. “Hope for Haiti Now” did quite well, topping the Billboard sales charts. The entire “Hope for Haiti” effort, including the telethon has raised more than $58 million so far. An excellent and very successful fundraiser for an important cause.
- While I’m sure that there are pointers to torrents for this – and pretty much every other album in recorded history – on some torrent sites, it’s hard to imagine that the losses due to “piracy” were anything but miniscule. In fact I’m willing to bet they were a lot closer to non-existent than miniscule. I certainly hope that there aren’t many people sleazy enough to torrent a charitable album instead of donating to the cause.
Turns out that MusicAlly wondered the same thing after reading the good Admiral’s piece.
But reading that, I wondered just how popular the album is on file-sharing networks. It might be available, but how many people are downloading it? So I asked someone best placed to answer that question – Eric Garland of BigChampagne, which tracks activity on these networks.
At its peak on 24th January, Hope For Haiti Now was being downloaded 2,680 times a day according to BigChampagne – compare that to [Lady Gaga's] The Fame Monster’s 63,845 downloads the same day. Meanwhile, by 23rd February, Hope For Haiti Now’s daily downloads had dwindled to 820, compared to 47,971 for the Gaga album.
And then there’s that last sentence: “So much for the notion that illegal downloading (“sharing”) is an effort to help advance the plight of artists“. Say what? I have no idea what that means. Or implies. Or what in the devil it has to do with “Hope for Haiti”. Or anything. So here’s to you Mitch. I stand humbled by your truly awesome BS abilities.