Not helping the cause

The RIAA Website was hacked last night (via “Scripting News”). This was a pretty boneheaded move by whomever pulled it off. The content industries want to portray themselves as the responsible parties, and the other side of the debate as criminals and cynical, greedy tech companies. The responsible people in Hollywood and the record industry distinguish between the pirates and the people who just want to enjoy their music and movies in a convenient, affordable way. Similarly, the responsible oppoonents of stronger intellectual property protection distinguish between legitimate business interests and inflammatory rhetoric.

Unfortunately, legislatures aren’t good at making such fine distinctions. They live for the sweeping gesture and the calculated back-room compromise that enables it. Hacking the RIAA site just strengthens the hands of those who would tar one side of the debate as pirates and their accomplices. It makes it easier for them to go to Congress and demand aggressive legislation to combat the anti-copyright scourge, including the ability to fight fire with fire (the Berman bill). The hackers probably had a good laught, but this is no laughing matter.