Living in the (nominally, relatively) free world, I normally take for granted that my words alone won’t subject me to legal action. Yes, harassment, threats, or slander have consequences. But as an American, I sleep comfortably believing that I’m within my First Amendement rights to speak my mind. I can even stand in front of the White House or Capitol Hill and freely speak against the most powerful people in this country because here, dissent alone is not a crime.
Oh, me and my stupid first world assumptions!
Last year, when someone in a publishing forum suggested that the FBI and Interpol should chase down bloggers supporting (but not having any connection to) TUEBL, I laughed about it. Literally. I laughed the fuck out loud. I mean, BLOGGERS? Really? I’m writing my opinion on a fucking website. Why don’t they just call Interpol to come by the cafe where I talk about politics and arrest everyone there too. Interpol! The FBI? Yeah, I lol’d at that. Fuck me, right?
It was a ridiculous suggestion. That merely talking about an issue should could get you hunted down was laughable.
But silly me! I was laughing from my first-world democracy standpoint. Apparently we aren’t in a first world democracy anymore – or at least some people think we aren’t. Apparently, snitching on people for talking about something is actually a thing. A copyright thing. Oh, and it’s not just for talking about something. It’s for reading about something too.
So…… yeah, if you’re reading this and you don’t want to risk the thoughtpolice getting wind of your activities, you’d better close this window right now. Because it’s happening:
In what is becoming one of the strangest, most unbelievable and over-broad farces in the history of United States copyright trolling, the ante has just been upped yet again. In a direct attack on the troll defense blogs FightCopyrightTrolls and DieTrollDie, Prenda Law has just ordered WordPress to hand over all IP addresses of users who accessed either site in the last two years. Just to be clear, that’s everyone’s details.
Copyright Trolls Order WordPress To Hand Over Critics IP Addresses
That’s right, you don’t even have to write something to get in trouble for it. You just have to stumble across it and drop your IP address a the door (by the way, you really shouldn’t be doing that……) And this week, two bloggers and their readers have found that out. Yeah, that’s right, the professional Copyright Trolls at Prenda Law have attempted to hunt down not only the writers of opinions they don’t like, but the readers of those opinions as well.
In order to understand the full force of these events, you need to understand this: FightCopyrightTrolls and DieTrollDie are news blogs. They share news stories, commentary, and resources on copyright abuses. They aren’t pirate sites. They aren’t violating copyright. They are just talking. And people are reading. And apparently, that’s a problem now.
That’s not ok.
Attacking bloggers – like attacking any dissident – is an assault on anyone’s freedom to express, hold, and communicate ideas. And attacking readers is an assault on anyone’s right to stay informed and form their own opinions.
It’s also downright stupid.
Prenda Law’s assumption is, You read an anti-copyright blog, therefore you ARE anti-copyright! This is moronic beyond belief. It assumes that people only ever read things they support and never, ever, ever explore new ideas, which is, quite frankly, total bullshit. As a copyright opponent, I read copyright supporters’ stuff all the time. Blogs. Forums. Articles. I read it all. And I assume that the people that think I’m pond scum and argue vitriolically against me are reading my arguments as well. You can’t derive intention from what someone reads online, and chasing down people for reading or sharing opinions and information won’t get anyone anywhere useful.
And yet, we have this.
Dissent is not a crime. No one should be silence.! Let’s hope these bloggers agree and don’t let the trolls scare them into silence!