Recording Industry Exec Says It's Not Censorship To Block Sites He Doesn't Like
from the oh-really? dept
We see this kind of claim every so often, but usually not from a high-ranking legacy entertainment industry executive. However, TorrentFreak has the story of how the CEO of IFPI in Austria (IFPI is basically the international RIAA), Franz Medwenitsch, claiming that blocking websites like the Pirate Bay isn’t censorship, because how can it be censorship to block stuff that he doesn’t like?
“Censorship is the suppression of free speech and everyone who lives in a democratic society categorically rejects censorship,” the IFPI chief says.
“But what has freedom of expression got to do with generating advertising revenues by illegally offering tens of thousands of movies and music recordings on the Internet with disregard for creators and artists? And yet the freedom of the author to determine the use of their works themselves is trampled!”
Except, of course, that’s not all that the Pirate Bay and other sites do. They offer plenty of legitimate content as well — public domain material, works that creators want to be distributed in that way, etc. Furthermore, it’s not these sites that are doing the distribution. They’re effectively acting as a meeting place or a search engine to match different users who are offering up the content, authorized or not.
But there’s this fundamental disconnect here which is scary to people who actually believe in free speech. Medwenitsch appears to have the dangerous belief that free speech only covers the kind of speech he likes. That’s not free speech. It’s really not that hard to see how someone could take Medwenitsch’s half-baked argument and flip it around:
“But what has freedom of expression got to do with generating recorded music revenues by illegally promoting misogynistic music on the internet with disregard to the feelings of women? And yet the freedom of those women to be free from insults and offensiveness is trampled!”
I’m sure you can come up with your own variation as well. The second that you start to insist that certain kinds of speech are somehow “not worthy” of free speech, because you, personally, don’t like them, you’re opening up the door to widespread censorship and you don’t believe in free speech at all. Medwenitsch highlights this problem perfectly. By his words he is pro-censorship and yet he believes he’s anti-censorship.
As we’ve said in the past, it is perfectly legitimate to have the opinion that sites like the Pirate Bay should be illegal and blocked. We may think you’re wrong, but you can have that opinion. But it’s simply being dishonest to argue that taking down the site is not censorship. It is. It’s just censorship you approve of.