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Rapp On That

by The Staff on July 21, 2011

To the editor: Paul Rapp’s article “Six Strikes and You’re Um Well” [Rapp on This, July 14] does a very poor job of explaining the current issues surrounding copyright. The theme of the article is that media companies are foolish and ridiculous for trying to enforce unjust copyrights in an abusive way that harms their customers. Mr. Rapp would do well to learn the difference between stupid and evil. Media companies are not trying to monopolize music, movies, books, etc.—really all of what we call culture—because they are bumbling fools with no idea how to get things done, as Rapp implies. Their “$500-an-hour corporate lawyers” may very well be “profoundly out of touch with reality and common sense,” but they are not earning that kind of money because they are clueless idiots who can’t accomplish anything. People who care about the free communication of ideas and creative information products take the efforts of industry groups like RIAA and MPAA very seriously. These groups are trying to control all information and art because it gives them enormous power and enormous profits, at the cost of severely restricting the people’s access to media that enriches lives and makes more intelligent people. This is not a joke. The fact that RIAA/MPAA’s policies are harming their customers is not a humorous illustration of the media industry’s foolishness, as Rapp blithely assumes. It is a far more serious thing.

If these trade groups and their lawyers succeed in eliminating file sharing and shoring up their monopoly, human life on this planet will be impoverished in the most fundamental way possible. All of us will be stupider for lack of access to culture. These gougers want to stand between people and all information and art and media in the same way health insurance companies stand between people and doctors. The fundamental flaw in Rapp’s reasoning is these “ridiculous” policies are very well thought-out and very effective. Rapp’s careless reporting is not unlike that of reporters who carelessly call a war a mistake without understanding it was in fact completely rational from a certain perspective. There is a difference between stupid and evil. Copyright is a corrupt and unjustified legal fiction just like corporate personhood. Please hire someone to write your article that knows and cares a bit about the very serious issues of the day.

Andrew Hough
Albany