The debate over copyright and enforcement thereof is often polarized, with staunch supporters on one side, objectors firmly on the other, and never the twain shall meet.
As a result, there have been some heated battles over the years, with pro-copyright bodies accusing pirates of theft and pirates accusing pro-copyright bodies of monopolistic tendencies. While neither claim is particularly pleasant, they have become staples of this prolonged war of words and as such, many have become desensitized to their original impact.
This morning, however, musician and staunch pro-copyright activist David Lowery published an article which pours huge amounts of gas on the fire. The headline goes straight for the jugular, asking: Why is it Every Time We Turn Over a Pirate Rock White Nationalists, Nazi’s and Bigots Scurry Out?
Lowery’s opening gambit in his piece on The Trichordist is that one only has to scratch below the surface of the torrent and piracy world in order to find people aligned with the above-mentioned groups.
“Why is it every time we dig a little deeper into the pro-piracy and torrenting movement we find key figures associated with ‘white nationalists,’ Nazi memorabilia collectors, actual Nazis or other similar bigots? And why on earth do politicians, journalists and academics sing the praises of these people?” Lowery asks.
To prove his point, the Camper Van Beethoven musician digs up the fact that former Pirate Bay financier Carl Lündstrom had some fairly unsavory neo-fascist views. While this is not in doubt, Lowery is about 10 tens years too late if he wants to tar The Pirate Bay with the extremist brush.
“It’s called guilt by association,” Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde explained in 2007.
“One of our previous ISPs [owned by Lündstrom] (with clients like The Red Cross, Save the Children foundation etc) gave us cheap bandwidth since one of the guys in TPB worked there; and one of the owners [has a reputation] for his political opinions. That does NOT make us in any way associated to what political views anyone else might or might not have.”
After dealing with TPB but failing to include the above explanation, Lowery moves on to a more recent target, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom. Dotcom owns an extremely rare signed copy of Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto, Mein Kampf (My Struggle) and once wore a German World War II helmet. It’s a mistake Prince Harry made in 2005 too.
“I’ve bought memorabilia from Churchill, from Stalin, from Hitler,” Dotcom said in response to the historical allegations. “Let me make absolutely clear, OK. I’m not buying into the Nazi ideology. I’m totally against what the Nazis did.”
With Dotcom dealt with, Lowery then turns his attention to the German Pirate Party’s Julia Reda. As a Member of the European Parliament, Reda has made it her mission to deal with overreaching copyright law, which has made her a bit of a target. That being said, would anyone really try to shoehorn her into the “White Nationalists, Nazi’s and Bigots” bracket?
In his piece, Lowery highlights comments made by Reda last year, when she complained about the copyright situation developing around the diary written by Anne Frank, which detailed the horrors of living in occupied countries during World War II.
Anne Frank died in 1945 which means that the book was elevated into the public domain in the Netherlands on January 1, 2016, 70 years after her death. A copy was made available at Wikisource, a digital library of free texts maintained by the Wikimedia Foundation, which also operates Wikipedia.
However, in early February that same year, Anne Frank’s diary became unavailable, since U.S. copyright law dictates that works are protected for 95 years from date of publication.
“Today, in an unfortunate example of the overreach of the United States’ current copyright law, the Wikimedia Foundation removed the Dutch-language text of The Diary of a Young Girl,” said Jacob Rogers, Legal Counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation
“We took this action to comply with the United States’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), as we believe the diary is still under US copyright protection under the law as it is currently written,” he added.
Lowery ignores this background in its entirety. He actually ignores all of it in an effort to paint a picture of Reda engaging in some far-right agenda. Lowery even places emphasis on Reda’s nationality to force his point home.
“I don’t really know what to make of her except to say that this German politician really should find something other than the Anne Frank Diary and the Anne Frank Foundation to use as an example of a work that should be freely available in the public domain,” he writes.
“Think of all the copyrighted works out there for which she might reasonably argue a claim of public domain. She decided to pick the Anne Frank diary. Hmm.”
Lowery then accuses Reda of urging people on Twitter to pirate the book, in order to hurt the fight against anti-Semitism and somehow deprive Jewish people of an income.
“After all sales of the book are used by the Anne Frank Foundation to fight anti-semitism. It’s really quite a bad look for any MP, German or not. (Even if it is just the make-believe LARPing RPG EU Parliament),” Lowery writes.
“Or maybe that is the point? Defund the Anne Frank Foundation. Cause you know I read in the twittersphere that copyright producing media conglomerates are controlled by you-know-who.”
At this point, Lowery moves on to Fight For the Future, stating that their lack of racial diversity caused them to stumble into a racially charged copyright dispute involving the famous Martin Luther King speech.
The whole article can be read here but hopefully, most readers will recognize that America needs less division right now, not more hatred.