Thursday, 16 January 2014

Dotcom Internet Party a stalking horse for more theft

The Paris Hilton of online, Kim Dotcom, lets it all out from his New Zealand mansion. "It" includes an aspiration to establish a political party within which to contest national elections in his adopted country. What's on the party platform? The party wants to work against the surveillance state, for one thing, but going by public pronouncements from Kim there are other things to pursue as well, including the profits of the entertainment and publishing industries. On 9 January, for example, Dotcom posted this on Twitter:
How to stop piracy:
1. Create great stuff
2. Make it easy to buy
3. Works on any device
4. Same day global release
5. Fair price
A list of conditions for content producers like this can hardly give confidence to those who ultimately bring out new material: authors, filmmakers, screenwriters. But Dotcom is clever. Uniting under a single political platform issues of surveillance (which noone can reasonably object to) with demands for geek-friendly access to content is to try to sweeten a very bitter medicine. Geek-friendly means making content producers follow practices that geeks value and that average punters ape simply in order to avoid paying for what they consume. Never mind the creators of music, films, and books. In the digital ecosphere theft is valid if the companies that control and produce the content don't go along with your demands.

Recently successful author Lionel Shriver put up a piece about the anxieties of the writing profession. Despite her success Shriver feels obliged to spend a large amount of her time doing marketing - writing op-eds, attending festivals, doing book signings - because she says she doesn't know if the success is going to continue. Shriver's success also didn't happen immediately and it wasn't until her seventh book that financial rewards started to keep pace with the hard work. So she remembers the difficult times. People like Shriver are rare because most writers do not speak out against piracy and content theft. This is a shame. The publishing industry is under siege from people like Dotcom who have their neat little lists of demands that they hold so dear and so close to their hearts. The people who are suffering as a result of this kind of immoral petulance are the writers, singers, and filmmakers who depend on links to strong publishing companies to not only survive but thrive. 

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