around the web

New York Times Tells Us Only Chinese Near Slave Labor Could Handle Steve Jobs’ Demands. A good critique by Yves Smith. Not just "near slave labor" but massive government handouts from the Chinese made it possible for factories to handle Jobs' constant last minute design decisions. Our own government, by contrast, asks Steve Jobs if Apple work is ever coming back to the US, Jobs says no (according to the Times' source), and our government sighs and says "it is the will of the market." Yet Steve Jobs is a hero to many.

Mutant Sounds was one of the innocent parties hurt by the Megaupload mob war (the Hollywood mob, using the feds as enforcers, vs what some might call the robin hood mob). MS was just using Megaupload to host music, no allegations of infringement were made against them. (On a side note, it could be said that MS specialized in what the US Supreme Court has called "orphan" works [pdf--see Breyer dissent], where it's too expensive or difficult to track down the original creator to obtain copyright permission. Many publishers won't touch orphaned work, the risk of an owner surfacing is too great, consigning a huge cultural legacy to the slag heap. There is no clear right and wrong here -- fair use is not evolved enough to tell us what is truly "illegal.")

Shutting down a host with thousands of non-infringing users just because of some bad eggs offends the most basic notions of fairness. Lauren Weinstein offers a couple of good analogies:

One analogy is the safe deposit boxes in a bank. There are certainly cases where the government seizes specific boxes, or states sell off the content of "abandoned" boxes (both controversial issues, I should add).

But the Megaupload case is more akin to the government seizing every safe deposit box in a bank because the bank owners (and possibly some percentage of the safe deposit box users) were simply accused -- not yet convicted -- of engaging in a crime.

What of the little old lady with her life savings in her box, or the person who needs to access important documents, all legitimate, all honest, no crimes of any sort involved.


You don't arrest everyone at a football game because a wanted criminal may be among the crowd. At least, not unless you're attempting to channel the old East German "Stasi" secret police sensibilities.

Everyone gets how unfair this is and the effect is a loss of any respect for Hollywood's claims to be an aggrieved party. They are a cartel, doing what they can to preserve power. We ask governments to protect us from gangsters, not help them.

Update: And if "basic fairness" isn't enough reason to rethink this, the Naked Capitalism blog also asks: Did the Feds Just Kill the Cloud Storage Model?