I usually refrain from directly quoting web sites but in this case Tycho of Penny Arcade fame expresses his feelings in a much more eloquent way than I could possibly hope to. The comments are directed toward an article (here) which describes the Deputy Attorney General’s opinions about file sharing and what was discussed at a congressional subcommittee meeting. Now I will quote. Pay attention kids, this is how to write effectively.

I won’t afflict you with the entire litany because I don’t think that’s why people read the things I write, to be exposed to surreal political views which are completely unmoored from reality. I would, however, draw your attention to the following article, which details a congressional hearing on the links between terrorism and, um… peer-to-peer file sharing.

John G. Malcolm, deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice, did say there seems to be some connection between illegal copying and organized crime, in that many of the groups profiting from illegal copies are highly organized and can have international distribution networks. Organized crime often supports terrorism, he suggested.

“These groups will not hesitate to threaten or injure those who tend to interfere with their operations,” Malcolm said.

Statements of this kind gnaw at the sensible mind, they chew on it and try to eat it. I won’t even gauge the clumsiness with which these two incongruous concepts are lashed together. If you want to see triple-x, explicit evidence of corporations with their hands up your government’s ass, working the their jaws like some malevolent Howdy Doody with chilling ramifications for personal liberty, well, there you go. Peer-to-peer file sharing and Terror? Terror? Do they not have dictionaries there? There’s another T word you cocks might like, too – give it a try: it’s called “Tenuous.” The only people terrorized by peer-to-peer file sharing are vastly potent multinational businesses, gripped by the realization that they sell carriages in a world of bullet trains.

Now I have to add a few comments of my own. These require reading of the article because I’m going to be quoting (again).

“Organized crime, in my mind, includes well organized groups of people trying to control the cash flow of a given commodity or within a given region”

Ok… so that makes the RIAA and the MPAA “organized crime” as well? I would think so. They been price fixing Cd’s since 1985 and started out price fixing DVDs just a few years ago. The actual production cost of a CD is $1.50. Even with 100% profit going to the record label and 200% going to the artist, that still means that the CD should be under $10. Are they? Nope. You have the balls to suggest that cutting into your 1500% profit is horrific? Go fuck yourselves.

“If more American parents understood the connection between the pirating of intellectual property and organized crime, I think then there’d be a much more effective public relations response in our own country to better appreciate the disastrous ramifications.”

Or, how about, if more American parents found out what you were really doing they’d shut you down. The only reason you see file-sharing as a problem is because the number of people who “get it” are eventually going to outnumber the people who have no clue. Generation X parents are fully aware of price fixing, they lived through the 80’s. So did I. If CD’s still cost $20 when I have a kid and they want to download them instead of buying them I’m going to praise the kid for being sensible with his money.

People ask me all the time if I think stealing is wrong. I say “yes”. Then they try to give me some long involved argument about how file sharing is stealing and that if I think stealing is wrong I’m being hypocritical. Then I asked them how much they paid for their CD or their software. Then I ask how much they think it cost to produce. When I tell most people about the insane level of profit the recording industry is making off each CD usually they get more mad than anything else. Perhaps that’s just because I go to art school and these kids are more liberal minded. Yes, I think stealing is wrong. I wouldn’t walk into a store and steal something and here’s why. Because that is stealing, not from the company that produced that CD, but from the store you’re stealing it from. Retail works by a company or store BUYING a large number of (we’ll keep using our metaphor) CD’s from the record company. They in turn, mark it up a little and resell it to make their profit. If you steal from them you’re denying the store its profit, not the record label. They already made their money. I say that it IS wrong to steal, it’s wrong to steal 1500% profit when you don’t have to. The record stores have little to no control over the price of their CD’s. The get them for $15 and resell them for $18. When the record company makes then for $1 and resells them for $15, thats highway robbery. “But that’s just good business practices” someone might say. So is my downloading the CD instead of buying it. I’m not going to support an industry that does that to consumers. They want to sell me a CD? Then they can lower the price to less than $10. I want a brand new, top of the charts, Grammy Award winning CD for $7.99. That’s what I want. It’s never going to happen. Until that day comes I’m going to download my music. If you still think that makes me hypocritical, so be it.

“Representative John Carter, (R-Texas), suggested that college students would stop downloading if some were prosecuted and received sentences of 33 months or longer, like the defendants in the DOJ’s Operation Buccaneer. “I think it’d be a good idea to go out and actually bust a couple of these college kids,” Carter said. “If you want to see college kids duck and run, you let them read the papers and somebody’s got a 33-month sentence in the federal penitentiary for downloading copyrighted materials.”

Hi, I’m an asshole. What would posses someone to make a blatantly bias statement like that. We’re college students, we’re supposed to be subversive. We write ‘zines and politically charged school news papers. We go to rallies and demonstrations. We’re the ones chanting “peace not bombs” at the moment. The sick and sad part is that you did this during Viet Nam. If you didn’t then you’re kids did. We’re college students. We feel (whether we’re right or not) that we’re smarter than you. We fell that your system isn’t working and that these laws are just dogmatic bullshit that you think will be good for business. Of course we’re going to subvert the system. Of course we’re going to download music. You dumb fuck. Here’s a quote you can take to the bank: If you want to see asshole congressmen duck and run, let a few thousand college students protest outside his office for a few weeks. Fucko.

*steps off his soap box for the day*

Sorry, if you don’t agree with any of that, it’s fine, but when I see an article written so obviously with opinions from only one side it kind of pisses me off. Then to have two figures from our government basically call all college students terrorists and thieves makes me madder than hell.

Alright. I’m off to listen to my downloaded, terrorist supporting music. Later.