My Fellow Content-Stealing Americans...


You know the maxim "content is king"? A new anti-piracy coalition that officially launched yesterday is treating Internet content more like a presidential candidate.

In this political season, now comes Arts+Labs, an ostensibly bipartisan advocacy group created by two former political operatives: Mike McCurry, the one-time Clinton White House spokesman and anti-Net Neutrality lobbyist, from the Democratic side; and Mark McKinnon, ex-advisor to McCain who bowed out of that campaign after Obama won the Dems’ nom, from the Republican camp. (They shoulda called their group "MMMM.")

Their first patrons include Viacom, NBC Universal, AT&T, Cisco and Microsoft, which for various reasons of self interest are hoping to build awareness that content piracy is bad — bad!

True to form, these Beltway guys are attacking the problem of pirated Web content as if they were waging a political campaign: Extol the virtues of your side, and (maybe more important) slam the opposition.

The opponents in this case are those blackguards who traffic in illegally copied material

According to the McCurry-McKinnon spin, downloading unauthorized versions of songs, movies or TV shows not only picks the pockets of humble artists but also subjects your computer to "net pollution" like viruses and "threatens to congest and delay the network for all consumers."

McCurry, in their press release, says one of the group’s goals is to give consumers "confidence that they are safe from viruses, hackers, malware, illegal file trafficking and other net pollution that puts them at risk."

Well, there are some half-truths in there. The digital kleptomaniacs who use BitTorrent or whatever to steal songs or movies are savvy enough to know how to avoid infecting their computers.

Anyway, on the other side of this hearts-and-minds campaign is the process of burnishing the client’s image: The Arts+Labs site links to approved sources of content, such as Hulu: "all free video, all the time." 

It remains to be seen how effective this effort will really be. Internet users, of course, will vote with their mice.