Is “Hollywood” hypocritical?

Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing comments on

the hypocrisy of the way that [the entertainment industry has] painted Kim Dotcom and MegaUpload

by pointing to a blog post by Alan Parker over at the Toronto Sun.  Parker’s argument for hypocrisy is historical, based on the founding of Hollywood in the face of Thomas Edison’s assertions of monopoly control (via patents) over motion picture technology.  He concludes:

The film corporations that were spawned by the very pirates and outlaws who created a hole-in-the-wall getaway hideout in Hollywood are now leading the charge to eradicate uncontrolled Internet access to works and technology they say they hold copyright and patent title to.

And they even use much of the same hypocritical, moralistic language that the Edison Trust used to claim the high ground over the shabby, nasty little rats, weasels, thieves and cheats stealing from them.

If Carl Laemmle, William Fox, Louis B. Mayer, Sam Goldfish/Goldwyn, Jesse Lansky, Adolph Zuker, Marcus Loew, or “the Warner boys”–all cited by Alan as independent producers who resisted Edison’s monopoly–had personally tried to assert their own monopolies and cut off subsequent producers, that would undoubtedly be hypocrisy.  But that is not what Alan is arguing:  he is accusing corporations of hypocrisy because their contemporary trade organization (the MPAA) is taking a position (roughly, that “pirates” should be “shut down”) that is contrary to the position (roughly, that the “market should flourish”) taken by natural persons (particular independent producers whose associated corporations continue in some form to this day) about a hundred years ago.

Can corporations be hypocritical in this fashion?  At its core, hypocrisy is falseness, saying one thing yet doing another.  When the “saying” and the “doing” are separated by 100 years–and involve none of the same actual people–it’s hard for “hypocrisy” to have any real meaning.

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