The Feds and the new Prohibition

Torrent Freak is reporting this morning that the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security are — without due process — seizing domains of sites involved in the practice of bit torrent distribution of copyrighted material, namely music. In seizing the domains, they effectively shut down the business of the sites, although it’s likely they’ll just move elsewhere.

Here’s what it looks like when you go to, one of the domains seized. page

This makes me wonder why. Why would our tax dollars be used to help the music industry stop what it believes is killing its business model. Why is this a matter of “homeland security?” Why would the U.S. make such an anti-freedom move on the world stage that is the Internet. Why? Why? Why?

The simple answer is it’s all about money, but like so many other things, this one is actually complicated.

Long ago, when this first began, I wrote a letter to my congressman in Tennessee stating my protest of the federal government’s involvement in such things. He wrote back that copyright is, in fact, America’s biggest export and that we had a duty to protect it. Basically, we entertain the world, and that’s the justification given from Washington.

(I’ve not been able to subsequently document that claim, but let’s just take the congressman at his word. And sorry, but I don’t have the letter and can’t remember his name.)

In the name of a global economy, we’ve let many real value markets slip from our shores, and so the government feels duty-bound to step in and protect this one.

This is, IMHO, horse crap. First of all, Hollywood and its copyright cartel are deep into the pockets of the very legislators who are now helping them, so politics is a big part of it. Secondly, the shotgun approach noted in the Torrent Freak report is distinctly reminiscent of the tactics of the RIAA in suing mom and aunt Sue for downloading music illegally. It’s not so much about actually doing something as it is about scaring everybody while making life difficult for a few. We’ll never know for sure, but you can bet the ranch those same lawyers are advising Uncle Sam. Thirdly, didn’t we form the Department of Homeland Security as a response to terrorism? It takes some serious distorting of reality to turn bit torrent into a form of terrorism.

Folks, we’ve got to do something about this and do it fast. We’ve already proven that prohibition doesn’t work, and we need to have the balls to go back and ask ourselves honestly why people are unbundling and redistributing music. This is something the cartel refuses to examine, because they are solely driven by the goring of the poor ox who’s pulling their money train.

Music led the cultural revolt against “the man” during Vietnam, and it has always been on the cutting edge of change. Some writers are the prophets of today, and rather than listening to them, we’re too busy making money off of them to care. So big is was the money, that those in charge have systematically tried to remove the prophets and replace them with guaranteed, albeit homogenized, hit makers, whose sameness is a pathetic ghost of music past. And, of course, a part of the hit making recipe is to package one decent tune with 11 pieces of garbage, and demand we buy it that way.

So the music industry must look itself in the mirror, if it wants a real seat at tomorrow’s music table, for even now, writers, singers and musicians are finding alternative paths to fame.

I voted for Barack Obama, because I felt a real need for change, and that’s what he promised. That this is happening on his watch isn’t so surprising (the campaign contributions) as it is just plain sad. I don’t blame the music industry for its complaints, but I do blame our government for its complicity in this unAmerican activity.

Finally, here’s a warning from an old guy to all of you young people. If this is allowed to continue, the law of unintended consequences will some day rear its ugly head. If the government is permitted to tamper with the essential structure of the Web — as in the seizing of domains — where will it stop? Human greed of one form or the other will take over, and all that we hold dear will be at stake. I’m not advocating chaos; I’m merely stating that when we take such drastic legal steps against anybody for anything, they must be granted due process. Otherwise, we’re a nation of jack-boot wearing automatons serving at the whim of our master, the guy or gal with the guns.


  1. I understand the need to eliminate the illegal distribution of copyrighted material but I don’t think the government’s intervention is the best way to do this. Moreover, the re-location of the servers is possible and when a particular website is considered outlawed its founders can just move it abroad and run it from another country.

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