I still can’t push myself to listen to the Bellwether trial audio recordings. While I’m procrastinating, some opinions began to emerge on the web, and the chorus of those opinions is not singing in unison:
- Jordan Rushie: The Bellwether Trial (Malibu Media v. Does) What Have We Learned? My Five Takeaways From the Trial (don’t neglect he discussion);
- Rob Cashman: My Response to the yet-to-be-written guilty verdict in the Malibu Media, LLC Bellwether Trial (PAED);
- John Whithaker: $112,500 Verdict For Copyright Infringement in Bellwether Case;
- June 13 followup: Bellwether Trial: Why It Was A Bust;
- DieTrollDie: PA Bellwether Case — Bench Trial Comments — 13 June 2013.
One particular comment to my recent post has struck me as very insightful: I simply couldn’t help making a post out of it. Thanks to the author, whoever he is.
Patrick Paige, Tobias Fieser,
Keith Lipscomb, Michael Patzer
You know, I’m listening to the audio transcript, and I have to say it’s worth doing so just to hear the cringe-worthy ass-kissing of the judge by Lipscomb in the beginning. Listening to it, you’d think the bellwether trial was Lipscomb being raised to Master Mason or something. His tone is so sycophantic that even the judge, clearly embarrassed, admonishes him for his unsubtle brown-nosing. Were you not aware of how the trial was going to go, you’d almost feel embarrassed for Lipscomb. If nothing else, the transcript is worth listening to just to get a fix on Lipscomb’s voice and manner — it is plainly indicative of the kind of man he is.
As it goes on, Lipscomb’s voice is bugging me more and more — it reminds me of something.
Far different from John Steele’s vaguely simian mumble-grunts, Lipscomb sounds like the guy who got shoved into lockers and had his glasses smashed by minions of same kind of people who now run Malibu Media (or people like John Steele, now that I think about it). I don’t know anything about Lipscomb, but just listening to this transcript, you get the sense of a very small man on stilts: Now that he’s a lawyer he gets to hang out with the popular kids who once shunned him and pushed him around, and he has, in predictable fashion, taken pleasure in tormenting others as he was once tormented. No more smashing Keith’s glasses and pushing him into a locker! He runs with the cool people now and he’s finally going to experience the sublime pleasure of ruining people, and getting paid to do it.
And then it hit me: Shoeshine Boy. Underdog’s meek, milquetoast alter-ego. That is what Keith Lipscomb’s voice sounds like, to me.
Two other things, on another note
(a) Any mention of Malibu Media on blogs should always mention X-Art. People searching on X-Art should see the way they treat people — hits to this blog and others should be near the top in search hit lists. There are thousands of ways to spend money on pornography on the Internet. People ought to really consider whether enriching these people serves any purpose, given the alternatives. The tendency of pornographers to regularly conflate the “right to be compensated for work” and “destroying people’s lives because that’s how the statutes read” needs to be brought to light: they are not the same thing.
Pornographers and their advocates insist regularly that because an argument can be made that downloading porn you didn’t pay for is wrong (and illegal), that an appropriate and proportional remedy is to relegate people to debt slavery. X-Art seems to have no moral compunction about doing this and people who are going to pay for porn ought to think about, concerns about sexual exploitation aside, whether or not they want to pay sanction to people who behave this way. I sure wouldn’t want the Malibu people as neighbors, and I sure as hell wouldn’t give them my money.
(b) A lot of bad blood could have been avoided by simply sending out settlement letters asking people whose IP addresses they subpoenaed to buy a year’s subscription to their site. Not only would this have grown their subscriber base (and compensated them for supposedly lost revenues from torrenting), but maybe people would have found a subscription worthwhile and renewed it (not only for the content but for having been treated equitably).
Maybe positive word of mouth (“Good Guy X-Art”) would have attracted other people to the site as well (“Look how good our stuff is — we think a subscription is worth buying and we think you’ll agree.”). X-Art has decided to be the sleazeballs people tend to assume all pornographers are. I understand feeling like you’re being ripped off and you’re angry about it, and I understand insisting on compensation and even reasonable damages — I cannot understand a human conscience that believes wrecking lives and relationships is a just response to such relatively minor transgressions — transgressions I would add that in balance probably drive more subscriptions to your site than actually deprive you of revenue. The greatest fallacy in anti-piracy arguments comes into play here: the idea that every download represents a lost sale.
It doesn’t. It never has.
Lastly, I admit to some fascination with Keith Lipscomb’s putative religious roots. He is now being compensated to humiliate people, possibly wreck families, and even destroy people’s lives on behalf of pornographers. Even if one takes the road of principle, that people ought to be compensated for the content they produce, I wonder if he has any pangs of conscience whatsoever about completely steamrolling people for blagging one molecule out of a giant landfill of pornography that covers the Internet. I get a pang of conscience when I kill a moth by mistake or go through the express checkout aisle with one too many items — I would love to get into Lipscomb’s head for just five minutes to know what it is like to be him. His grossly exaggerated description of BitTorrent bringing on the Tortpocalypse (or something — he made some sort of ludicrous exaggeration along these lines) is so absurd, I cannot accept that he believes what is coming out of his own mouth. Or maybe the problem that as a pornography lawyer, Keith Lipscomb has fallen so far, that he actually does. And that’s sad.
I’m not a religious person — and even when I was, I was a horrible sinner, but I might make an exception and say a prayer for Keith Lipscomb. I hope he truly questions what values it is he is serving and how he is living his life before it is too late.
I have no such hopes for the pornographers he represents. I am sure they believe themselves to be honorable business people who are the victims of Internet porn hounds. But I think when you get to a point that you’ve decided to slap your name on pornography, you’ve damn near reached the moral point of no return. Like a sort of ethical diabetes, human conscience is just ineffective at curbing your worst instincts anymore, and little you do triggers any sense of guilt or shame… or mercy.
Shame on you Keith Lipscomb and shame on you X-Art.