The Anti-copyright freak parade

This article is not all that interesting on its own — yes, if you own a venue that features music, you need to get a license. It’s been this way a long time, everyone understands how it works, and if you don’t get a license you run a real risk of being sued or shut down. The bar owners who try to flout this are no different from that Montana rancher whose selfish desire to welch on paying grazing fees for federal land became a cause celebre last year.

But what’s really scary are the 160 (and counting) comments, which run about 19 to 1 in the direction of copyright is wrong, ban or cripple all copyright protection, how anyone dare restrict our god-given freedoms with this thing called copyright protection.

It’s deeply disturbing for multiple reasons. It’s disturbing because of the level of ignorance on display — the commenters simply have little understanding of how copyright works, why it exists, who is protected. Nor does this prevent them from arrogantly and righteously proclaiming what they think is the truth. But it doesn’t stop there — some of them are positively willing to advocate Violence to overthrow the hated tyrannical copyright regime. For example there’s “lemuero” who argues “How about we all unite and rally up and TRASH WARNER BROTHERS HEADQUARTERS AND BURN DOWN THEIR STUDIO?” — to which “John Jacobs” agrees that “Repeatedly burning, looting, and rioting” are necessary because we need to “make it _painful_ for people to keep supporting the copyrighting monopoly.” “Guest9001” chimes in that “besides fractional reserved debt based currencies, intellectual property is the greatest threat to peace and prosperity in the world.”

Really? With all the problems going on in the world, musicians making money from their music are the greatest “threat”? Not nuclear weapons, genocide, the Ebola virus, environmental destruction, Middle East conflict, Russian brinksmanship, terrorist groups who kidnap schoolgirls and behead journalists — but copyright? (And non-gold-backed currencies, of course, which gives away that these are mainly Ron Paul tinfoil hat types, Keyboard Kommandos typing away in Mom’s basement, young friendless white males whose excess testosterone and proclivity for violence is being channeled into this utter nonsense, privileged people who believe the slightest threat to their “freedoms” trumps anyone else’s problems including their right to make a living.)

And that’s really the most disturbing thing about this fetid little comments section. It showcases the degree to which internet culture allows and encourages little echo chambers of like-mindedness to form. The freaks who want to ban copyright are a small minority of the general population. But their forming here in a group — a very likeminded group, very hostile to the occasional “trolls” who try to argue a contrary position — makes them feel like a majority, endows them with a group solidarity and esprit de corps, fosters this sort of poisonous radicalism that permits itself violent fantasies in support of its twisted notion of what is right. You see this on political blogs, too, all the time, on the left and right alike. Everyone’s forming themselves into little self righteous tribes, smugly hostile to everything else. These guys are among the most deluded members of a society in which so many of us are spending our time in closed little echo chambers of delusion. This is how people end up believing the Sandy Hook shootings were staged by the government, or joining ISIS. I’m not saying the anti-copyright loons are as bad as that, but they’re going down the same road.

Because the truth is, it’s not corporations and greed that are the greatest threat to this world. It’s idealistic young men who think they know what’s right. They get together in these self-amplifying little groups and egg on each others’ fantasies of righteous violence. Sooner or later the fantasies always turn real.

 

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