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January 21, 2012
Jonathan Coulton on Megaupload/Piracy
The raid on Megaupload
and arrests of its principals has brought out a great deal of commentary on both pro and con sides, as well as Anonymous DDOS attacks in response
. As Cory Doctorow points out in Friday's post
, MegaUpload wasn't just any file-sharing site, it was actively engaged in a tit-for-tat war with Universal Music Group in which UMG issued spurious takedown notices to YouTube and MegaUpload responded by suing UMG and posting a video in which artists who use MegaUpload praised the site
Jonathan Coulton, for those who have been living under a rock, is something of a nerd-rock superstar. Formerly a programmer he has recently made his way as a full-time creative artist with his own works as well as teaming up with pop-culture icons that include Neil Gaiman and John Hodgman. Gamers probably know him best as for the wildly popular "Still Alive" track from Portal and he has been quite happy to give away his songs for free as well as via traditional recordings. And like any other artist working today he has a view on illegal copying.
Turns out this view is both complex and nuanced, as he explores in his blog post. That's good, because he started the whole thing off by Tweeting something sarcastic that apparently got taken way out of context. What Coulton ends up arguing is that there are both good and bad aspects to sharing sites like MegaUpload and to the environment in which he's creating.
He notes that people, particularly on the anti-copying side, throw around big numbers with little or no evidence to back them up - numbers based on over-simplistic math and bad premises. And he concludes by saying:
I believe in copyright. I benefit from it. I don’t want it to go away. I love that we have laws and people to enforce them. But if I had to give up one thing, if I had to choose between copyright and the wild west, semi-lawless, innovation-fest that is the internet? I’ll take the internet every time.
It's interesting to me to see him come down on this side of the debate because I found Coulton, and became a fan, due to an illegal work. Even though I'm a gamer I never played Portal, but I play World of Warcraft and apparently so do
a lot of other Jonathan Coulton fans
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