Crackers and Crackdowns

From Kevin Mitnick to Jon Johansen, the Empire strikes back.
What can we do?

The hopeful characteristic in many of the responses I received to my “Free Kevin” article is that people want to know what we can do. All over Slashdot people have been asking this about the DVD struggle, and recently, Jon Katz has been called upon to provide a solution to the problem of corporatism. This signifies a cooperative potential across the computer world.

When it comes to moral behavior, not everyone can go out into the world and do good things. However, most people appear to be ready and willing *not* to do bad things. After all, inactivity is easy.

Boycott the Motion Picture Industry

It's really a moral imperative, otherwise the industry will be using our dollars to attack Jon Lech Johansen, and that's pretty traitorous on our part. It won't be difficult, just make a choice to see independent films instead of Hollywood movies, if you have to see films at all. Theater and opera are other possibilities; a bit expensive, but hopefully you would find them worth it. There is a wealth of entertainment available in this world, and sitting down and staring at pictures, whether the television, the monitor, or a movie, isn't exactly the best the world has to offer. I would advocate boycotting television as well just because it's insufferably stupid, though it's not directly related (movies get shown on the telly, and Fox, at least, has broadcasting concerns, but boycotting tv is less noticeable than boycotting the cinema). If you have to see some Hollywood movie, you could try to sneak in, or pay for another movie and then sneak into the room where your movie is being shown (just to be difficult and cast your dollars for a movie that isn't produced by Disney, Sony, MGM, Paramount, Fox, Universal Studios or Warner Bros., assuming there are other movie producers in mainstream cinema). Of course, you can also see matinees which cost less. You could even make just one exception in the case of major things like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, if you haven't the willpower for a complete boycott. The idea is to reduce consumption, as far as you are able. The point is to vote with your dollars; while I would advocate boycotting the motion picture industry all together, as long as we seriously curb our expenditures on movies (even by refusing to buy soda and candy, i.e. sneaking in your own bloody candy) we'll send a message. It's up to every individual to decide how committed he or she can be. For me, it's not a sacrifice, I never see movies anyway, and I haven't got a television or radio for that matter.

Specifically, boycott Disney, Sony, MGM, Paramount, Fox, Universal Studios, and Warner Bros. All together. Everything they do.


Activists might prefer a more pragmatic approach, such as protesting with giant signs outside of theaters. The 2600 cats did this when Miramax was producing a heavily fraudulent film (based on a largely fabricated and defamatory book) about Kevin Mitnick. The protest was effective, and the executives had the script re-written. Monster corporations going after a kid and his dad look horrible (and for the sake of our struggle we'll get more sympathy if Jon comes across as a little kid instead of a technologically proficient, young adult). It is pretty sick, it's corporate assault on the family, after all. If the DeCSS situation doesn't go away soon, it's likely we'll see announcements on Slashdot and elsewhere about where and when the protests are and whatnot. 2600 is already advocating protests, check out their website for details.

What about mpegs?

The sneaky villain in all of this is the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), who is secretly meeting in Seattle at the moment in order to plot the demise of mp3s. How they propose to do this is not known at the moment. The industry has been trying to make the mp3 format illegal, which would be an interesting move. Interesting, because once again it would prove that the free market rhetoric espoused by corporatists actually has nothing to do with their intentions: free markets are about efficiency above everything else, and outlawing efficiency is completely contrary to this alleged principle. However, that looks impractical simply because the 3-digit IQ community wouldn't allow it. The other techniques have been developing new CD players and CD formats so that people would not be able to read CDs and turn them into files on a computer. This restriction, we can guarantee, would be quickly broken, and then we'd go through a DeCSS fiasco all over again. The other problem is that consumers (remember, business people don't refer to people as people, they refer to us as 'consumers') already have these old CD players that can't play new, encrypted CDs, and we'd all have to buy new players.