RIAA: Google’s China Hack Ought to Make it Help Fight Piracy

RIAA: Google’s China Hack Ought to Make it Help Fight Piracy

RIAA CEO Mitch Bainwol makes the extraordinary leap in thought by comparing hacker attempts to steal source code and spy on the gMail accounts of human rights activists to the RIAA’s battle with illegal P2P.

The RIAA is always good for a few laughs, oftentimes going to extreme lengths to try and convince the public and businesses alike that P2P is the scourge of the Earth.

A casual example occurred just the other day when it and the MPAA jumped at the chance to reiterate the FTC’s warnings to 100 unnamed organizations that personal information, including sensitive data about customers and/or employees, is available in on P2P networks, emphasizing the fact that the “abuse of P2P technology” is putting people at risk.

However, the latest and greatest op-ed released by the RIAA has to take the cake. In it Bainwol tries to intertwine the recent attempted hack into the gMail accounts of human rights activists and theft of the company’s source code, which it dubs as intellectual property in the same vein as music, with its efforts to fight intellectual property “theft” on P2P networks.

“In texting parlance, Google has finally had an OMG! moment when it comes to intellectual property,” he writes. “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.”

Never mind the fact, as Techdirt’s Michael Masnick points out, that the stolen source code was never meant for sale or public consumption unlike the tracks and albums the music industry is having an increasingly tough time convincing people to buy in a crowded entertainment marketplace.

He even takes a swipe at its Google Books project whose sole purpose is to make knowledge more accessible to all, upset that some authors may not be able to profit as much from their works as they have in the past.

“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,” he adds. “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).”

I doubt that many authors would have seen a diminished income from its plan, and in fact Google has already reached a $125 million dollar settlement deal with authors and publishers in exchange for the right to make millions of books available to the public.

But, the choice of argument makes one wonder if the RIAA is then against “egalitarian” ideas like increased access to, and this is in his own words, “important works of literature?” I can think of nothing more damaging for the RIAA to say, and truly makes it look more narrow minded than ever.

Worse still, Bainwol thinks that the record labels’ failed business model is even in the same league as Google’s. If that’s the case then why is the latter’s profits soaring while the RIAA’s is declining?

“Like our friends at Google, we fully support the adoption of broadband and the new and exciting opportunities it provides for consumers to enjoy movies, television programs and music. We in the IP industries couldn’t live without these amazing technologies. In fact, digital accounts for a greater percentage of music industry revenues than movies, books and newspapers combined. We are partners with technology companies in the fullest sense of the word,” he writes.

Oh really? The same group that’s pushing for ISP-level content filtering and “three-strikes” legislation is on the side of technology and consumers? It only likes either so long as they mean more profits.

Bainwol also makes the same tired argument that physical and digital theft, commercial and non-commercial, are the same, and that it’s doing all it can to give consumers what they want.

“Yet there is no question that despite our extensive and innovative offerings of legal content, the levels of online and physical theft around the world extract a profound toll,” he writes. “That activity has a direct and harmful impact on American jobs and our economy. And as Google has found out, this illegal activity is exacerbated by the unwillingness of some—including some businesses and even some governments—to take reasonable steps to address these problems.”

First of all, the RIAA has no “extensive and innovate offerings of legal content” that I can think of, and it regularly interferes with individual efforts to make that leap by demanding huge upfront cash payments and large percentage of profits.

Second, there is a very real difference between physical and digital theft. The former is done for profit and the latter is not. An illegally downloaded song or album also doesn’t always mean a lost sale, and in fact, oftentimes means an increase in legal music purchases.

Third, China’s protection of its “hacker soldiers” is wholly unrelated to our own govt’s unwillingness to enact the sort of “three-strikes” and filtering legislation it has long sought. It oddly wants us to stifle the flow of thoughts and speech by using the example of communist regime’s attempts to do just that as its reason why we should.

Talk about idiotic.

But, I guess we’ve come to expect nothing less from a hair-brained organization like the RIAA. It’s been 10yrs and it still hasn’t managed to realize the music industry world is round after all.

Stay tuned.

[email protected]