It seems like 2010 may perhaps go down in history as a year of astoundingly screwy things happening to the internet. Is this going to be the end of the blog as we know it?
Bloggers seem to be the bane of many who are in power in one way or another. Obama doesn’t seem to like us much, nor do the “warmers” who are really ticked off about the numerous bloggers who don’t believe in global warming. I’m sure many of us give fits to many we oppose.
As of late we seem to be having some “coincidences” going on with blogs that concerns me. It seems the thumb-screws are getting tightened, perhaps to the point where we will not be able to type about much anymore unless it has someone’s seal of approval.
First, we had iPBFree disappear into what seems like a black hole, no explanation, thus far just rumors that they might have been taken down for software violations, RIAA violations, tender of service violations, child pornography, terrorists activity and I’ve even seen one rumor that they went bankrupt.
Then, Blogetery disappeared on July 9, 2010, and thus far hasn’t been seen back in business. There were many rumors afoot, but the accepted explanation is that the FBI sent Burst.net a letter regarding terrorist activity on the Blogetery server that they ran. Then depending upon what explanation you want to believe someone at Burst.net either misunderstood the letter to mean they had to shut the Blogetery server down, or they terminated it because Blogetery wasn’t being responsible in policing their site. Supposedly Burst.net may let Blogetery have their stuff back and make 70,000+ bloggers happy as it appears many never backed their sites up. I just clicked on http://www.blogetery.com and got the below message.
“After being BurstNet customer for 7 months our server was terminated without any notification or explanation.
You can find more information on CNN, BBC, Fox News, Cnet, geek.com, etc.
We also now have the EU taking aim at bloggers who are skeptical about global warming. They actually seem to have the intent of passing a law that makes being a global warming skeptic a criminal act. This could make China sound down-right internet friendly if it does pass. It will also set a precedent. If they get away with it then what will be censored or made criminal next? Your guess is as good as mine, but if it pisses off someone in the government or someone with a lot of financial clout, you can bet there will be more instances.
So what next? Well it seems we now get a lawyer in Las Vegas, Nevada who’s decided he can get filthy-rich filing copyright lawsuits against bloggers who copy from any of the newspapers he represents. I use the word “filthy” because it’s going to be dirty money he’s getting as far as I’m concerned. So who are we dealing with?
His name is Steve Gibson, he started a firm called Righthaven and they’re going surfing for dollars from bloggers. Find poor little bloggers who dare to cut and paste some stuff from any of the newspapers he purports to represent and he’ll huff and he’ll puff and he’ll sue your ass off. I think he’d rather you agree to a modest settlement, like a few grand and he’s the new owner of your website. Money in his bank and not much expense involved other than some scare tactics. I would imagine that the target group will be small bloggers who don’t have the wherewithal to hire a lawyer but who’ll cough up some cash to avoid spending their retirement fund on legal fees.
According to this article from Wired Magazine, he’s already suing people. You can read all the ins and outs of what his plan of attack is there. I’m not talking about the details, I’m talking about the chilling effect this could have on blogging.
Is this guy really doing this of his own volition? Is he doing this at the behest of the news media? Is he doing this at the behest of someone in the government or other powerful people or an organization who’s using him as a front man? You look at his photo at Wired Magazine and tell me. Does he look smart enough to have come up with such a grand scheme to you? I’ll leave you to decide.
If you think about his plan, it’s certainly a terrific way to silence bloggers. He’s already gotten some settlements and has other lawsuits in the works, with more planned. With all the bloggers about I hope he has a very large staff of attorneys at his beck and call, otherwise he may find himself in over his head. Why? Well, Technorati’s 2008 report on the blogosphere counts more than 112.8 million blogs out there, and that’s probably not all of them plus it is now 2010.
Were I someone in power in government or someone with a lot of cash to spread around (you can pick your own “Dr. Evil” from a long list of New World Order and other types), it would sound like a beautiful plan to me. You remain invisible, hire a shill, and hide behind the law, who will force what could be thousands that you don’t like to shut down. Talk about getting rid of the competition, not to mention with 112.8+ million blogs out there you have lifetime job security.
I would call it “legal blackmail.” The “shill” will get to go after people you want to STFU, and make some big dollars as a side benefit. I call it “legal blackmail” because if you sent a threatening letter to someone whose blog you didn’t like you’d be tossed in jail for blackmail. Hire an attorney to do it for you? No problem. You get to pass go, say hi to the Judge and collect a big wad of cash. You don’t even need that old get out of jail free card if you’re a lawyer you can rest easy, the legal system has your back. As long as an attorney is doing the blackmail it’s perfectly OK in many instances.
Right now, from what I read, Gibson’s “client” is Stephens Media, LLC in Arkansas. They own the following media. If you’re a blogger you might want to consider never quoting from any of their papers or their “shill,” “attorney,” or whatever term you like, may be sending you a message you don’t want to get.
- Booneville Democrat – Booneville, AR
- Cabot Star-Herald – Cabot, AR
- Cabot Weekly
- Carlisle Independent – Carlisle, AR
- Charleston Express – Charleston, AR
- Fayetteville Free Weekly – Fayetteville, AR
- Greenwood Democrat – Greenwood, AR
- Hot Springs Village Voice – Hot Springs Village, AR
- Jacksonville Patriot – Jacksonville, AR
- Lonoke Democrat – Lonoke, AR
- Morning News of Northwest Arkansas – Springdale, AR
- Paris Express – Paris, AR
- Pine Bluff Commercial – Pine Bluff, AR
- The Market Place
- The White Hall Progress
- Press Argus Courier – Van Buren, AR
- Alma Journal
- Sherwood Voice – Sherwood, AR
- Southwest Times Record – Fort Smith, AR
- The Maumelle Monitor – Maumelle, AR
- The Times – North Little Rock, AR
- Van Buren County Democrat – Clinton AR
- Washington County Newspapers
- The Lincoln Leader
- The Prairie Grove Enterprise
- The Farmington Post
- 808 Classifieds – Hilo, HI
- Big Island Weekly – Hilo, HI
- Hawaii Tribune-Herald – Hilo, HI
- North Hawaii News – Waimea, HI
- West Hawaii Today – Kailua-Kona, HI
- North Hawaii News
- Big Island, HI
- Westside Weekly
- McDonald County Newspapers
- The Anderson Graphic The Goodman News-Dispatch
- The McDonald County News-Gazette
- The McDonald County Press
- The Southwest City Republic
- El Tiempo
- Ely Times – Ely, NV
- Eureka Sentinel – Eureka, NV
- Las Vegas Review-Journal – Las Vegas, NV
- View Neighborhood Newspapers
- El Tiempo
- Las Vegas CityLife
- Las Vegas Business Press
- Rebel Nation
- New Homes Guide
- Luxury Las Vegas
- Southern Nevada Home And Garden Magazine
- Nifty Nickel
- Neighborhood Shopper
- Jobs Today Weekly
- Pahrump Valley Times – Pahrump, NV
- Tonopah Times-Bonanza – Tonopah, NV
- Courier-Tribune – Asheboro, NC
- Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise – Bartlesville, OK
- Pawhuska Journal-Capital – Pawhuska, OK
- The Daily Herald – Columbia, TN
- The Advertiser News Of Spring Hill And Thompson’s Station
- Franklin Life
- Brentwood Life
- Anna-Melissa Tribune – Anna, TX
- Herald Democrat – Sherman, TX
- Grayson County Shopper
- Lake Texoma Life – Van Alstyne, TX
- Prosper Press – Prosper, TX
- Van Alstyne Leader – Van Alstyne, TX
- The Daily World – Aberdeen, WA
- The North Coast News
- The South Beach Bulletin
- East County News
- The Montesano Vidette – Montesano, WA
It’s too early to tell if we have coincidences or a conspiracy, a creative attorney or a “shill.” I do think the compass needle is pointing in the conspiracy direction. Time will tell. If we start having more “coincidences” I’m really going to start wondering what is happening to the first amendment.