After the widespread reactions against the anti-piracy initiatives SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act), supporter of the bills, Paramount, directed its efforts towards educating the educated by reaching out to universities with prominent law schools in a letter sent out earlier this month. Paramount hopes to address the issue of “content theft, its challenges, and possible ways to address it” either in a “formal presentation followed by an open discussion period or to participate in a class session”.
The author of the article, “Paramount Wants To Talk To Students About How They’re All Thieves & Then Ask For Ideas On What To Do” and its follow up “More Details About Paramount’s Offer To Law Schools To Teach Them About The Evils Of ‘Content Theft'”, Mike Masnick, interprets the effort as a way of convincing “the next generation of lawyers to come help them try to cripple the internet” and further spreading the moral panic phrase of “content theft” by presenting the destructive effects of copyright infringement.
This seems fairly similar to the discussion over the moral panics caused by comic books in the 1950s. The “defendants” in both cases have had to defend freedoms and their right to expression -be it through horror/crime comics or through a video mashup of “The Fighter” and “Mark Wahlberg talks to animals”. In either case, it appears that those who have been rallying against the methods of expression have had intimidation on their side -either threatening with jail time, fines, or shutting down the hosts- to further their cause. Hopefully this time, there aren’t as many casualties.