Robin Hood He Ain’t

We sentimentalize Robin Hood, but though the notion of robbing the rich to help the poor may sound romantic, stripped down it’s simply a glorification of outlawry. What then can be said of outlaws who rob authors to help nobody at all but themselves? What can be said is, “Boy, crime really pays!”

That in essence is what happened when a New Zealand software developer contacted Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload, indicted by the United States for copyright infringement and money laundering. “I could live like that,” the fawning man tweeted to the notorious creator of the file-sharing website that the FBI has shuttered.

Dotcom invited him to his enormous rented mansion for a swim and some cupcakes.

The visitor’s admiration for the bandit is not unique. To a generation of misguided libertarians who feel entitled to accept stolen goods, Dotcom is a cult hero. After armed forces raided his opulent stronghold, the unrepentant buccaneer responded with typical braggadocio. “Two helicopters and 76 heavily armed officers to arrest a man alleged of copyright crimes — think about that. Hollywood is importing their movie scripts into the real world and sends armed forces to protect their outdated business model.”

If Dotcom is referring to that outdated business model known as property rights, he may have difficulty persuading a court that it should be replaced by one based on stealing. If he can’t make his case, he faces 20 years in prison.

The tragedy is that he will have so many rooting for him. Jonathan Hutchison of the New York Times reports that “After the court granted him access he began using Twitter…, amassing more than 46,000 followers in just two weeks…

Details in Megaupload Founder Goes From Arrest to Cult Hero

Richard Curtis
This blog post was originally published by Digital Book World as Indicted Pirate Thumbs His Nose at His Victims, and His Cult Eats It Up

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7 Responses to Robin Hood He Ain’t

  1. Brian says:

    When the punishment fails to fit the crime, folks will rally behind the criminal. In this case, sending this guy away for 20 years is excessive, so I can understand why folks rally behind him.

    The same thing happened with that lady who had a jury give her punitive damages far beyond her means. Sure, the jury can say that she should pay a ridiculous amount of money, but that doesn’t mean that she actually has the cash to pay. Maybe the jury should have looked at her bank account first;)

    When punishments around infringement fit the crime, then I can see people rallying behind the under paid authors. In the mean time, it’s just bad press, which doesn’t help the cause.

    • @Brian,

      This makes good sense. It’s just that when your pocket has been picked you say “I’d like to kill that guy!” So there is a strong need to punish those who violate us, and sometimes it can be over the top.

  2. I agree that that kind of punishment is very tough, but at long last they’re fighting against piracy, and those hard punishments work as a deterrent.

    Maybe it’s too much, but something needed to be done.

    And I agree that those libertarians have got the sympathy of far too many people with lies: outdated model, greedy Hollywood moguls, that stealing is sharing culture…

    By the way, I doubt I’ll make a donation to Wikipedia again; I’ll let those libertarians, which want everything for free on the Internet, maintain it.

    But I’m glad to say that in Spain, where I live and which used to be a lost market for digital contents (those libertarians conquered everybody, even journalists), things are changing. New models are emerging (I mean Spotify, Amazon and websites similar to Netflix, not thieves), people are getting used to paying for those things, and a new law, similar to SOPA, is shutting down rogue sites.

    It’s just a matter of time to end piracy.

  3. Simon says:

    Dear Richard;

    In almost every bank, railroad station, hotel, and school one can rent a locker. A small space one can use for ones own purposes, as long as one pays a small amount of money. Some of these lockers are used for legal purposes, some for illegal purposes. The owners of the lockers have no control over their usage, so they are not responsible.

    At almost airport, and in all major cities, one can rent a car. A medium sized space one can use for ones own purposes, as long as one pays a medium sized amount of money. Some of these cars are used for legal purposes, some for illegal purposes. The owners of the cars have no control over their usage, so they are not responsible.

    In almost village, city or country, one can rent a house. A large space one can use for ones own purposes, as long as one pays a large amount of money. Some of these houses are used for legal purposes, some for illegal purposes. The owners of the houses have no control over their usage, so they are not responsible.

    and…

    At many places on the Internet, one can rent some storage space. Some mega bytes one can use for ones own purposes, as long as one pays a small amount of money, or, sometimes, completely for free. Some of mega bytes are used for legal purposes, some for illegal purposes. The owners of the servers and domains have no control over their usage, BUT STILL, THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE.

    Is that fair?

    Take care,
    Simon

  4. Simon says:

    Dear Richard;

    no, that’s too easy… -smile-

    To put it differently: it’s not the Robin Hood’s who are persecuted, it’s the owner of Sherwood Forest, and if I remember correctly, that was the Sheriff of Nottingham. First problem, there’s millions of Sheriffs of Nottingham out there, in the real world, who are commiting the very same crime. Second problem, all the Robin Hood’s go free, and they will always find another forest.

    Thieves ought to be caught and punished, but if the thieves are difficult to catch, it makes no sense to persecute the locker-, car-, house- or website-owners, no matter how much money they earned by renting out their space.

    If we don’t do that in the real world, we shouldn’t do it in the digital world, either.

    Take care,
    Simon

  5. rowena cherry says:

    Did you see that ebookee.com sold for $2,000,000 ? Its business is to direct would be illegal downloaders of “free” ebooks to where those ebooks are being “shared”.

    Needless to say, the DMCA was never intended to protect specialized search engines whose allegedly overt purpose is the facilitation of alleged copyright infringement.

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