Take it easy, Don Henley

Yesterday, Don Henley (of the Eagles) penned an editorial in USA Today supporting the Protect IP Act (PIPA) which has serious free speech implications and turns web sites into copyright police. Don called out both the EFF (of which I am a Director) and Google (which is a consulting client of mine) so I have this whimsical response for him:

Take it Easy, Don. There's a New Kid in Town, and it's called the Internet. Get Over It. I Can't Tell you Why, but in The Long Run, there isn't going to be a Heartache Tonight. One of these Nights I hope you'll understand that for search engines to Take it To the Limit, they can't be forced to police every search result.

Internet companies only grow when living Life in the Fast Lane, able to operate, innovate and design products without needing to check for permission from the music industry. If every time you wrote a song you had to worry about what every user who plays it and every store that sells it might do with it, you would lose your Peaceful, Easy Feeling quickly. Big companies might run filters, but if the small ones had needed to they would be Already Gone.

The Best of My Love,

Brad Templeton, EFF

PS: Henley really is a great musician, and I do understand his frustration with people who don't pay him for his work. But click the link above for EFF's explanation of why this sort of approach isn't really going to help musicians and will do real damage to the way people use computers and the internet.


You are such a gentlemen, Brad Templeton, you did not mention "Hotel California" in your reply. Stealing American entertainment is indeed bad. Ironic.

Yes. Check out Ian Anderson's take on it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xny0Uj4--tk&feature=related

No one disputes the objective facts. However, what most people don't realise is that the music was written by Don Felder, who was not a member of the Eagles at the time they were supporting Tull. That doesn't mean that the song "Hote l California" couldn't (perhaps subconsciously and not intentionally, like "My Sweet Lord" and "He's so fine") have been based on "We used to know", but the fact that Felder wasn't anywhere near at the time makes it less interesting.

Interesting. Thank you. Though I’m not an Eagles fan - I value JT much higher, I think that Eagles is nonetheless a significant contributor to the global rock legacy. I personally see nothing bad in “borrowing”, intentionally or unintentionally. “Borrowing ” in a vital part of the culture, the very reason of its existence.

The goal of my tu quoque remark was not to invalidate a particular band’s music based on alleged plagiarism, but to express a surprise that a musician can seriously believe in such oxymoron as “stealing of ideas”.

I agree that one shouldn't shoot the messenger and that an ISP shouldn't be held more responsible for the content it ships than the post office or the telephone company. There are absurd positions in the name of copyright protection. On the other hand, a substantial portion of the "digerati" supported Napster at all, perverting "free speech" to mean "it's OK to steal the work of someone else", misunderstanding that just because a copy has a negligible price today it's OK not to pay the artist anything. (In the old days, copies were hard to make and were expensive and it was easy to add to the price for compensating the artist.) The idea that an artist can get paid for his work has had a huge benefit; the alternative is that only those who are independently wealthy (or have a sponsor) can contribute music, literature etc to the world. This is being endangered by the various Pirate Parties and so on. What we need is for someone like the EFF to come out strongly on the side of being against illegal downloads. (Just because one doesn't like a particular business model does not give one the right to circumvent it anymore than I have a right to rob a bank if I think they are charging too much interest.) Let's face it: these extreme positions on the other side would not have arisen had the internet community at large openly criticised Napster & Co.

The problem with attacks on sites like Napster was not support of illegal downloads. Napster was roughly isomorphic to Archie and Veronica, tools which spidered all the files being shared on FTP servers in the early internet. You could search, find files and immediately download them peer to peer. Archie was the first internet search engine, and is intellectual grandfather to Google. To say that concept was illegal because now people used the same sort of tool mostly to share music would be to strangle the very concepts that built what people most value about the internet.

This is not the same issue as we have here, with DNS servers, ISPs and search engines being required to be the net's copyright enforcers. Enforce copyright, but not that way.

I agree that the current case is not completely analogous to the Napster case. However, defenders of Napster want to appear like they are the same thing as the telephone book or whatever (which is not responsible for illegal activities of people listed in it), but in reality they are more like the owner of a "hire a contract killer" web site who weasels out of it by saying that he, personally, doesn't kill anyone; he just supplies the infrastructure and doesn't have control over what people use it for. I think we need to distinguish clearly between a neutral service which to some degree is abused for illegal activity and a service whose essentially entire justification is the aiding and abetting of illegal activity (even though there might be some token legal activity present). The Pirate Bay, starting with the name and going through to the lame excuses brought by the owners demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt what I am talking about. Also, of course, a messenger can be required to remove the message if it is deemed dangerous or illegal. For example, if someone alerts an airline that a piece of luggage contains a bomb, or some illegal stuff, the airline can't object to it being confiscated on the grounds that it is just a neutral provider.

Suppose a travel agent is involved in human trafficking. Even though he is a neutral provider, he certainly can be required to reveal information about his clients if there is reason to believe they are abusing his service for an illegal activity.

Copyright violation is theft. Your famous article about copyright is very good. I would just like to see the EFF try to equally defend copyright protection and free speech etc rather than rallying to arms in the latter case and lying low in the former.

Not directed at you but at other commenters her and elsewhere: Saying that copyright violation is not theft is like defending rape on the grounds that the raped person is still physically capable of sex after the rape and thus nothing was taken away.

If you are going to continue to use the word 'steal' as a replacement for the word 'copyright infringement'. Then I'm going to use the word, 'Massive elitist douchebag' as a replacement for the word "Phillip Helbig"

Fair is fair

Considering that I post under my real name and you don't (for fear of prosecution? just to be able to take cheap shots and not suffer the consequences? because people who know you would realise how infantile your post is?), I think it is clear to the readers who deserves respect and who does not. Even if you disagree with my opinion, you should still retain a minimal amount of decency and respect.


Your privilege is showing. Why not take a look at Who is harmed by a Real Names policy. Maybe you would see that just because someone chooses to remain anonymous does not mean they are doing so because their posts are infantile or they want to be able to take cheap shots and not suffer the consequences. Your use of a "real name" is no indicator of how much respect you deserve.

Maybe it is, but I am not abusing it, whereas I seriously doubt that Brad, who allows anonymous comments here, does so to enable comments like your own. No problem if privilege is showing as long as I am not using it to unfair advantage. However, I would say that you are abusing your, yes, privilege of being able to post here anonymously.

Maybe Brad knows who you are. Maybe he will take appropriate action.

OK, I had a look at the URL you mention:

The cost to these people can be vast, including:

harassment, both online and offline
discrimination in employment, provision of services, etc.
actual physical danger of bullying, hate crime, etc.
arrest, imprisonment, or execution in some jurisdictions
economic harm such as job loss, loss of professional reputation, reduction of job opportunity, etc.
social costs of not being able to interact with friends and colleagues
possible (temporary) loss of access to their data if their account is suspended or terminated

Which of these are you threatening me with?

More seriously, I support the right to post anonymously or under a pseudonym (more or less transparent as the case may be) and indeed do so elsewhere. That is why I am saddened and disturbed and offended by your abuse of your anonymity, since it is people like you who, unfortunately, cause anonymity to be banned at some places.

Thanks for showing the true face of the pirates, copyright-infringers etc; couldn't have done it better myself. (Of course, showing one's face via an anonymous posting is something only a pirate could do. Now we know that the real reason for the eyepatch is to obscure the identity.)

I'm staying anonymous for a very valid reason: in a fear of selective prosecution from a troll (see my story). Does it imply that I'm a pirate? Sounds flattering.

I will concur with Anonymous that calling "non-commercial copyright infringement" "theft" is vastly overinflating the category of offense, with malice aforethought.

On the other hand, if I *ever* hear again someone say the words "your privilege is showing", I will fold them until they are all sharp corners, and shove them *so far up*...

Y'know what? Never mind.

As I was saying:

> Saying that copyright violation is not theft is like defending rape on the grounds that the raped person is still physically capable of sex after the rape and thus nothing was taken away

Yeah, no, we know that you *assert* that that analogy is correct, but that doesn't *make* it correct: in the case of non-commercial copyright infringement (you'll notice I'm being *very* careful about my phrasing here; you might want to consider that approach yourself), *the infringed party not only doesn't suffer what a rape victim does* *they don't even know at all, generally*.

So, please, spare us that particular metaphor in the future, Philip?

Brad: Nice work with the song titles. (In other news: you have any pointers on DVD and BD ripping legalities? I got myself in trouble citing Kaleidascape the other day... :-)

You're being a dick Phillip. Whether a person goes by their own name or not is no indication of whether they require, demand, or deserve respect. It is your manner that shows just how little you 'deserve'.

You can twist all the arguments and ask all you want that you deserve respect because you use your real name, all while calling theft what the law and even the Supreme Court calls infringement. So here's the news - we'll call you on your bullshit. If don't like democracies and want it your way you can move to South Korea. In the meantime, I remind you once again it's call infringement, and every time you call it theft we'll call you a lapdog douchebag of the content cartel.

As the anonymous poster said above, fair is fair.

If copying (infringement) is theft, lobbying is bribery. If copying (infringement) is not theft, lobbying is still bribery. I wonder how sane people can support not only PROTECT IP, but any lopsided act based on massive shameless bribery by an incumbent industry.

> Enforce copyright, but not that way.

Copyright is a rotten outdated model. The fact that it somewhat protects creators does not mean that it does not inflicts much more harm to the society than it is useful. I'm generally pro-evolution, but if my business' cash flow is negative, I would think about closing this business before thinking of a new one. So I would rephrase:

Enforce fairness, but not by copyright

mr henley, please keep your 'intellectual' property to yourself. we don't want it. don't urinate in a public pool and then complain that everyone has to swim in the contaminated water not just those who hold a licence from you.

Add new comment