Fansubs, Piracy, ISPs – Why won’t the pain stop?

Recently, I came across two articles on Anime News Network. Both of which made my head hurt for completely different reasons. The first was part of the Hey Answerman! column:

“.. Arent fansubs protected by the first amendment?… “

All I have to say is “What the?”Okay, so that isn’t all I have to say. What bothers me isn’t the fact that someone is trying to use something totally unrelated to justify downloading fansubs. It’s that the argument they are using is so blatantly and unrepentently dumb? How is using copyrighted material that someone else created that you have no part in protected speech?

What bugs me even more is the fact that people need to feel that they’re justified in downloading fansubs SO much that they create these fantasies that are just a few steps shy of institutional. Look, I’m not an RIAA puppet or anything, but downloading copyrighted material that you didn’t pay for is stealing. Get over it. Don’t try to justify it. Don’t try to make it some holy mission. And definitely, most certainly don’t drag the First Amendment into the argument.

There are plenty of good reasons to download fansubs: as a preview of a series, because it’s not available in the United States or just because you want to. Yes, it’s a good enough reason as long as you accept on some small level you are stealing.

On the other side of the court, I came across this article on Anime News Network. The part that caught my attention was: “The majority of the notices (which are similar to an unrelated one archived at the Chilling Effects website) reportedly came from Comcast, a Internet service provider in the United States, on behalf of an unnamed “copyright owner, or its authorized agent” and cited America’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”

Chilling effects is right. That goes straight past chilling and right on through to downright disturbing. Comcast can judge the materials I have stored on my computer, or that I send through their cables? Yes, I just said that fansubs are stealing. And they are, no matter which way you cut it. But there’s no way I want the corporations acting as the police on what people send through their lines. Good lord, is it me or does that give anyone else the heebie jeebies?

Just imagine this scenario: I decide that I want to criticize Comcast’s Anime Selects service on OnDemand. Do they now have the right to curtail my commentary? Am I going to get a notice in the mail telling me to cease and desist picking on them while I PAY TO USE THEIR SERVICE.

All I can think of is Julius Caesar at the moment: “Oh judgment thou art fled to brutish beasts and men have lost their reason!”

Bear with me – my brain is swirling in this mire of stupidity. I must pause till it come back.

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