Monday, January 23, 2012

No Tights for this Robin Hood

"Soon every lupin in the land, Will be in his mighty hand. He steals them from the rich, And gives them to the poor."*

Held: Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz and also known as Kim Tim Jim Vestor, was arrested along with three other executives of MegauploadsI don't pretend to understand everything about Megaupload. In fact. I don't pretend to understand a lot. I know that, the other day, the Internet equivalents of the corner mom and pop - Google and Wikipedia - threatened to hold their breath until they turned blue if Congress restricted their access to...access or something. Having grown up in the vinyl era of music distribution, I'm aware that awful, evil, ruthless tycoon types conspire to make me buy stupid songs on an album with one great tune. Those charlatans had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the era of single-track downloads. I get that.

So when a person comes along who wants to fight for us little guys (and gals) and hold the conglomorates' tootsies to the blowtorch there is a side of me that roots for our champion. Until I read the story.

James Bond hideaway: Kim Dotcom's sprawling mansion in Coatesville, north west of Auckland, can be seen in this image. Police today revealed the extraordinary details behind the arrest of the multi-millionaire
Are you kidding me? According to news stories, this overstuffed (alleged) thief's humble abode was entered by New Zealand cops armed with warrants. He refused them entry. Then he hid in a closet (I don't care what you call a panic room, it's still a closet). They hooked his used car - make that cars, and seized a bunch of other stuff. The big guy and his gang went to jail, at least for now, as international authorities unravelled a spider web of offices around the world. His response? The people who own the rights to these copyrights are greedy, and behind the times.

Seized: A number of cars belonging to Schmitz including this pink Cadillac were taken away by authorities Wow. No suspect has ever blamed the victim before. This must be one smart guy.

Of course, self interest grabs one's attention like nothing else. I have two copyrighted literary works (as opposed to literate - as in literature) for sale which can be (or have been, depending on who you believe) pirated. I may get a lousy two bucks per copy, but after five years of work I'd like to take my long-suffering wife out for dinner. In short, I have two dogs in this fight. But I've hedged my bet by keeping my day job.

This evolving battle will not be won by princes of gluttony, any more than we can expect Congress to have any idea what to do. This will take decades of treaties, police work and court battles before anything approaching stability is reached. Until then - let's not make heroes out of narcissists who hide behind empty man-of-the-people expressions and then flee in a corporate jet to a 24 million dollar estate.

He ain't Errol Flynn.

*Monty Python's Flying Circus, (episode 37; aired 4 January 1973; recorded 17 April 1972).

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