If you’re like me, you’ve probably been seeing a lot of social media posts from MJ fans protesting the SOPA bill. The rallying cry has been that if the SOPA bill is passed, you can get up to five years for downloading or uploading a Michael Jackson song-one more year than the doctor who killed him!
Well, the irony hasn’t been lost on ThePirateBay.org, one of the biggest websites dedicated to free downloading, who have now taken up the rallying cry of MJ fans by…yep, you guessed it, making Michael Jackson their new, official poster boy for the cause! So now, on a website that gets millions of hits per day, the first thing that now greets every visitor to the site is a reminder that in the eyes of corporate America, downloading a Michael Jackson song is apparently a worse crime than killing him!
Initially, I was excited about this and kind of proud, as an MJ fan, to see that even beyond the grave, Michael Jackson could still be used as an example against the kind of corporate greed that he stood against all of his life. After all, there is good reason for us to be very concerned about SOPA. If the bill were to pass, it would definitely impact the rights of small website owners such as myself from being able to upload videos of MJ music from places like Youtube. It would impinge on the current freedom we now have to share music and videos; it would mean, ultimately, that the sort of multi-media articles that bloggers like myself are able to do could be adversely impacted; in fact, websites could be permanently shut down and their owners imprisoned for so much as a reported violation! (And yes, just for uploading an MJ song, you could get more prison time than Conrad Murray is facing for killing him!).
But that was before I learned of disgusting comments made about Michael Jackson by a Pirate Bay administrator back in 2008, when apparently they were sued for $100 million by Websheriff for publishing content belonging to Michael as well as several other artists.
I had no sooner posted my previous version of this blog (Michael Jackson Becomes The Official Poster Boy For The Ant-SOPA Campaign) than I was notified by someone on Facebook of the disgusting comments made by Pirate Bay.org in 2008 in reaction to this lawsuit. My initial reaction was to delete this post. But then on cooler reasoning, I thought: Why not instead use this as an example to illustrate how Michael Jackson has been used, and continues to be used, for profit and/or exploitation?
The 2008 case aside, Michael himnself wasn’t particularly adverse to fans downloading his songs or concerts. In fact, in the wake of his very public falling out with Sony in 2002, he actually encouraged it. He was also well aware of how many of his concerts were available on Youtube and was reportedly quite wowed and flattered. I suspect the 2008 lawsuit was most likely the result of advisers encouraging him to jump on board the Websheriff bandwagon. Even now, many fans rely on downloading as a convenient means around a very difficult ethical conundrum-for example, if they want his music, but don’t wish to support Sony and/or Branca in the process.
However, my concern isn’t so much the impact on free downloads but rather, the potential impact on sites like Youtube and the ability to share/embed videos of Michael’s songs and performances via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter-a privilege and a freedom we’ve all come to take for granted.
But as for sites like Pirate Bay.org making Michael their new “poster boy” for the cause, take it with a heaping grain of salt. Sure, PB can use him as a poster boy NOW…now that it’s “cool” to be an MJ fan again and his music is selling in the millions (and thus, interest in uploading MJ music, whether legally or not, is also at an all-time high).
I guess we can simply add PirateBay.org to the long list of hypocrites using the name Michael Jackson for nothing but their own benefit. They are making a good show now by playing on the emotions of fans. But what they said in 2008 shouldn’t be forgotten-or forgiven.