[Op-Ed] Why Is Anonymous Backing A Sleezy Web CEO And Attacking The Wrong Companies?
Anonymous as a collective has always said they are protecting the rights of internet users and rallying against big business and the 1% that keeps big business on top, yet this week following the shutdown of Megaupload the hacktivist group has rallied behind Kim Dotcom, the company’s sleazy CEO with a penchant for million dollar purchases, a jet setting lifestyle and a penchant for illegal activities that extend beyond the company’s file sharing roots.
Kim Dotcom (Kim Schmitz) was arrested this week after police in New Zealand raided his home and found the playboy wannabe cowering in a panic room with a sawed off shotgun.
Of course the moment the site was taken down and Kim Dotcom was arrested groups such as anonymous immediately declared war on the likes of the RIAA, MPAA, CBS.com and others in the name of “freedom” to choose what files they download and from where. The hackers didn’t bother to use their collective internet abilities to search for information about the MegaUpload.com founder, if they had they would have learned that his business wasn’t based on simple “file sharing” but rather built on copyright infringement, embezzlement, insider trading and various other illegal practices.
Anonymous on various occasions have railed against company CEOs who take from their users to live a lavish lifestyle, yet Dotcom was among the worst, his MegaUpload enterprise has raked in more than $175 million while he has used that money, typically collected from the streaming of illegal TV shows and Movies to purchase $4.8 million in vehicles including a recent 2010 Maserati. Of his three main cars his licenses plates include “Guilty”, “Evil,” and “Mafia.”
Not only has he operated in a “Grey area” of the law he has also outright broken it, in the past Kim Dotcom has been found guilty of insider trading, embezzlement and criminal hacking.
When he’s not hacking he’s often seen hanging out in grand marble tubs on YouTube or sun bathing his obese body aboard his yachts.
But at the heart of the government’s shutdown of the site was the web properties blatant refusal to abide by copyright laws. Yes Megaupload would occasionally shut down a video at the request of a copyright owner however at the same time the company’s own employees were exposed trading links to TV shows among themselves, fully acknowledging through their actions that they were willing to trade in and allow copyrighted material to remain on the website.
So there sits Anonymous attacking various corporate websites over a company that shouldn’t be allowed to exist. The group went from trying to stop big studios from charging $20 for a DVD to rallying in support of a greedy German hacker who has made millions by peddling (for profit) the same movies the group has rallied against for making millions of dollars.
I’ve heard the argument a million times from people engaging in illegal downloads who want to feel better about themselves and there actions, it usually goes something like this “I should be able to download Hollywood movies all I want, they charge too much and the industry needs to change and I’m helping it change.” My other personal favorite is “people who pirate movies and music weren’t going to buy those movies or music anyways.”
If that’s the case I would love to know why the music industry has lost half it’s wealth since the advent of P2p networks, specifically Napster? For the music industry there has been change of recent, for example Spotify now pays per song. Yes that amount is equal to only a fraction per cent per song but when you consider that many listeners may hear the same song 500-1000 times over their lifetime that small amount adds up and the song has a chance to pay for itself many times over (perhaps except for indie artists who are currently being screwed by Spotify with many Indie Labels dropping out of the Spotify program). Then again for the movie industry it’s not that simple, a few fractions of a cent for a movie means nothing when a person might watch a movie one, maybe two times over their lifetime. If you want cheap movies you’ll watch once try Vudu at $4 a pop or wait for the movie to possibly arrive on Amazon Prime or Netflix services. Here’s a thought, go rent it at your local video store or buy it for $5 out of the previously viewed bin.
With that being said, MegaUpload isn’t a website that was bent on simple file sharing, through through its own actions the company has proven time and time again that it wants you to download illegal material, that it wants its employees to engage in that material and that it wants to continue to operate outside of DMCA rules and regulations.
Anonymous can claim all they want that they are rallying against “greedy corporations” but they fail to acknowledge that it’s a free market economy and corporations have the right to choose whatever pricing they want for items that do not directly interfere with the day-to-day lives of citizens. Warner Bros. selling a DVD or Blu-ray for $20 isn’t affecting your ability to survive one bit. And when did “greedy corporations” that create movies and music become such a concern in the United States? Anonymous sits around attacking the Sony Network, CBS.com, the RIAA and others in the name of “activism” while their “fans” sit around and watch. How about getting off your lazy butts and actually producing something? How about opening a small studio with other piracy loving supporters and creating indie films you claim Hollywood isn’t making anymore. By the way, they don’t make them because they can’t earn money off them when you’re pirating them all the time so they hedge their bets on blockbusters that fail or earn massive amounts of money to pay off debt from their failures.
When I worked at Blockbuster video in 1998 we purchased some movies such as the Titanic for $85 per movie, that gave us the right to rent the movie to customers, for customers looking to buy Titanic on VHS we sold copies for $19.99. That means in 14 years DVD prices are still in line and sometimes cheaper than 1998 pricing while the newer technology of Blu-ray is just a few dollars more expensive and in many cases matches VHS pricing from more than a decade ago. That pricing has remained in place even as the cost of movie production has skyrockets by five, sometimes 10 fold. It’s funny how the “pricing of movies” has become such a big concern once movies were made readily available for illegal download when they are in many cases cheaper then 14 years ago when inflation is taken into consideration.
Anonymous is whining, it’s that plain and simple, they don’t want company’s to make money in a free market, they don’t even want customers to enjoy the products they are willing to pay for, a fact proven by their takedown of the Playstation Network which forced paying customers to lose service and they don’t want to admit that they are more worried about their own ability to download illegal movies and music more than they are concerned against fighting against “greedy corporations.”
Megaupload deserved to be shut down, when a P2P network that has a strong policy against copyrighted material comes along however I’ll more than support their efforts, I’ll write about their service and support their right to share content content openly.