“Don’t Be Moral”: Ars Technica’s Critique of How Google’s Patry Instructs Us All

As I’ve noted, I just know that I’m not going to have the time to read the new book by PS, the most prolifically legendary copyright scholar in the history of those who have never sold a record.

I’ve noted a creeping argument from various thimbleriggers over the last couple years that the problems with Gigantic Tech companies using their market power to bully artists is not a good or evil issue, not a moral issue—it’s just about money.

It’s not. But I understand why the thimbleriggers would make this argument because they tend do lose on the moral argument, Moses and the tablets and all. So just like they want to define away the definition of property, they also want to define away the definition of theft.

The Ars Technica review (“Big Content: Using “moral panics” to change copyright law“) is wonderful considering that Ars is usually dutifully supportive of Gigantic Tech. You should read it in its entirety:

“You have to love a book on copyright that quotes Gadamer, I.A. Richards, and George Lakoff in its first fifty pages, and one that spends a chapter on the theory of metaphor. Patry wants to show that copyright owners use metaphors—especially that of the “pirate” and the “thief”—in order to short-circuit critical thinking on copyright issues.

[quoting PS] ‘It doesn’t matter whether people know what pirates were actually like in the Golden Age of Piracy in the 17th and 18th centuries; rather, it is enough that the term evokes powerful negative associations which are then transferred to the desired folk devils, for example, the manufacturer of VCRs, file-sharers, or Internet service providers [or Google]. In the transference, our attitudes are changed.’”

Ah. The Golden Age of Piracy. (“Freeing the surviving members of [Captian Thomas] Tew’s crew, pirates rape and murder large numbers of those aboard and steal cargo worth more than ₤325,000.”)

Sounds like somebody read too much Hakim Bey.

Well, don’t be moral.