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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Eeky Geeky: Weekly Peeky at the Freaky

Never has the divide between the sunlit plains of Everyday and the shadowy crevices of Geekland been more clearly seen than on one fateful Friday not long past. Sept 19 marked a holiday that has as much relevance to most people as Ayathrem Gahambar. That holy day was Talk Like a Pirate Day; geeks worldwide stumbled around trying to pretend they had wooden legs and saying “Aaaaarrrrrr!”

Now, to a geek, this was pretty hot. Wisecracking social commentary, in-crowd cool points, an excuse for a theme party that guaranteed girls would (might) show up in skimpy Pirate Dresses. They wandered around all day arring and walking the plank. The ones bumping into things were pretending they had two eye-patches for extra hipness. Or Something.

But, to the non-geek, it was notable only by the fact that the geek next door down was slightly more incoherent than normal, and hurting himself again.

Never fear, TLAPD will gain in leaps and strides until frat boys do it, at which time, geeks will switch to Talk Like an Austrian Halberdier of the Free Companies Day (“Zie Popen unblechschleigelhiem”!). With that unhappy day in mind, we turn to the subject of co-option, of holidays, of names, of terms of use.

You, gentle reader, have been privy to the co-opting of piracy. Most of the world, thanks to a media campaign by our friends at the Recording Industry Association of America, now hear and think of filesharing, peer-to-peer networking and piracy in the same breath. This is a big, fat humbug the RIAA wants you to swallow so they can pin falling record sales on one of the great innovations of the Internet age.

Piracy is one thing and one thing only. It is theft, appropriation, or reproduction for commercial gain. Filesharing is nothing close. Even sharing music you did not pay for is not piracy. Did we all get that? Downloading music is not piracy. Download any music file you like, from Bimbolina Spears to Aptly-Named Thicke and you are not a pirate.

Why? You didn’t make any money from it, did you? Piracy would be downloading music, burning it to a CD and selling it to your little buddies. Music and software pirates are a very real problem. They cost those industry many, many millions of dollars a year. They are, in the great majority, located in SouthEast Asia and Latin America, where they crack, copy and resell anything they can get their hands on. They are cottage industries that employ many people acting in concert. They are not college students and home users mixing music for their own enjoyment. Nor are they the people who upload their software and music. Sharing intellectual property is fair use and rightly so.

Now, it is true that companies and the record labels potentially have lost many sales to this practice, known as filesharing (not fileselling, n.b.), but hey, the monks lost out to the printing press, and the horse and buggy lost out to the old Model T. It is what is trendily known as a “paradigm shift,” or in plain English, “the future”; anything but piracy. It is Very Bad and rather scary that the RIAA wants to protect their floundering business model by having you declared a criminal, or by scaring you into crippling your computer, or crippling consumer protection and property rights.

Remember, when filesharing is outlawed, only outlaws will share files.

Tune in next week for a peek at the sordid underside of Geekland: Furries!

About the Contributor
Carl Brooks served as news editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2003-2004