General Question

Zyx's avatar

How does one fight a corporation?

Asked by Zyx (4170points) January 31st, 2012
23 responses
“Great Question” (7points)

“BREIN”, an organisation exploiting copyright law for profit, shut down my piratebay today and I am truly angry. I already considered vandalism, war and harassment but I’d rather do something with a higher chance of succeeding. Dutch courts don’t seem to understand how the internet works and over the past 15 years I’ve seen BREIN go from annoying to dangerous.

So how do I fight a corporation? Is it wise to start another corporation with the sole purpose of taking them down? To which type of meddling would they be most susceptible?

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Blackberry's avatar

This is a good question, and I may just be cynical, but I think they’re way too powerful. You’re not just fighting a corporation, you’re fighting the government as well.

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JaneraSolomon's avatar

One guy, Dave Carroll, was fed up with United Airlines, their bad handling of luggage resulting in breaking his $3,500 Taylor guitar, and the indifferent employees who didn’t respond to his claim afterward.
He fought back by writing and performing a song and posting it on Youtube

This was very effective in holding United responsible and he got not one but two guitars from the president of Taylor guitars to replace his destroyed instrument.

XOIIO's avatar

Are you talking about the piratebay? That site is still up, or what exactly was shut down?

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Zaku's avatar

First think about what the corporation is, and what about it you want to fight.

Explosives could be effective, but would be dangerous and risky and would be overkill and hurt a lot more than necessary, and the government would come after whoever they figured did it. AND, it would probably backfire because it would give corporations and governments more excuses and popular support for even more smothering and controlling laws, and could tend to reduce popular support and listening to anti-corporate messages.

Not that many corporations don’t deserve to be detonated, and it would be so satisfying.

Look at what the corporation is about, and whether it could be redirected rather than destroyed. Many corporations could be converted into harmless or beneficial organizations, if the people in control of them (executives, employees, stockholders, customers) could be shown that it makes sense and that they can get enough agreement to do so. See Speak Peace in a World of Conflict , and various Internet petition web sites (such as where you can sign and start petitions to corporations and governments to correct corporate policies.

The ”Speak Peace…” book I mentioned is about non-violent communication skills, but it also discusses and gives examples of how to get the attention, listening and agreement of people who can change corporate policy. The organization that publishes the book also has trained people who do that sort of work…

If a corporation has little or no potential for redemption, then finding sympathetic representatives in government, in the public (via petitions again, and in grass roots organizations), and possibly in lawyers and/or law enforcement or regulatory or better business organizations may be effective, depending on what mischief the corporation is up to, and who agrees that it’s bad and what to do about it. This might seem futile at first, but if you are pissed at what the corporation is doing, then chances are that you are not the first person to be upset, and that some people are already working on something to do about it.

If you find no people in your own country mobilized against the corporation you have in mind, you may find foreign or Internet groups who would be sympathetic and could bring pressure or legal action.

If there is a nasty corporation that is doing something like perpetrating copyright-based harassment of smaller companies, chances are that it is a puppet of larger corporations or others, who may be the ones that need changing.

Another option is to talk to reporters and bloggers and politicians and administrators about your specific case, and explain how outrageous it is and get it written and talked about.

Another option might be counter-harassment tactics of various types, depending upon the specifics of the corporation. If the corporation is really for-profit rather than a puppet, then anything that will hurt its monetary position can be effective. If it is a puppet, then tactics which result in it being a pain or embarrassment for its masters or government agencies, or that undermines and subverts its agenda, perhaps by resulting in an embarrassing media circus or legal case, can be effective. For example, Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd manages to operate an anti-whaling navy that attacks the whaling industry, and one tactic is to actually invite lawsuits, since he knows that it would generate a ton or media and sympathy and possibly a political and legal backlash that could be more effective (and do much less “collateral damage”) than a lot of TNT.

gorillapaws's avatar

You hurt a corporation by targeting their abiliy to pay their investors. Without doing any research on BREIN, it seems like they profit by exploiting copyright loopholes. If I wanted to hurt a company engaging in this behavior, I would start a nonprofit group (or join an existing one) with the focus on fixing copyright laws, or making the legal process of exploiting them so expensive and cumbersome that it is no longer a profitable business model.

I know the Electronic Frontier Foundation is one such organization that has been doing a lot of great things lately. Perhaps you could volunteer for them, or figure out how to turn your particular skillet into a vehicle to help them generate donations. E.g. you could raise money by riding a bike around Brein’s offices with a protest banner, get people to donate x amount per lap. Make a websitie with your progress and try to get some press to cover the story (wearing something unusual might help in this regard).

Violence is lazy, stupid, won’t get you what you want and the act of someone too narrow minded to take the time to come up with a creative solution.

amujinx's avatar

BREIN sounds very much like the US’s RIAA or MPAA. Now, the issue with then about just attacking the headquarters would be that it would just set them back. The issue with corporations like this is that they are middle men who are trying desperately to retain their way of making money by stifling the ability of the internet to link artist directly to audience. So even if you did burn their building to the ground and destroyed any backup evidence they had, they would continue to go after people in the name of “protecting” their clients.

What is needed in this case is making everyone know that the whole thought process behind entities like the RIAA, MPAA or BREIN is incorrect. In an interview with one of my favorite authors, the issue of piracy came up. Here is the clip of him discussing what happened. The big lesson he learned that needs to be taught to these entities is “that’s all this is. It’s lending books. And you can’t look on that as a lost sale. It’s not a lost sale. No one who would have bought your book is not buying it because they can find it for free. What you’re actually doing is advertising, you’re reaching more people, you’re raising awareness.”. The problem is that these corporations can’t see that they actually aren’t losing money because of pirating. The bigger reason that these industries are losing money has to do with their archaic distribution model. So they lash out at the pirating community instead of reevaluating their market strategy and adapting suitably. Until the thought process changes, nothing you do would have any lasting effects.

Sorry that I can’t foresee an easier solution than changing people’s minds. Everyone knows how incredibly difficult that is to accomplish.

Nullo's avatar

Odds are good that BREIN has strategies in place for handling small-scale terrorism; their real assets aren’t anywhere you’d be able to get to.
Violence is the last resort, an all-or-nothing move – you either succeed, or be destroyed, and there’s just the one of you. You’d take out one office, perhaps, and spend the next fifteen years or so in jail while the Internet discussed whether or not you’re a bad person. Your time is worth more than that.

Zyx's avatar

@XOIIO yeah, the court ordered my internet provider to block it.

It’s not the provider’s responsibility but the court isn’t very well informed.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@gorillapaws Tell that to MEND.

From Arundhati Roy:

If you’re an adivasi[tribal Indian] living in a forest village and 800 CRP [Central Reserve Police] come and surround your village and start burning it, what are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to go on hunger strike? Can the hungry go on a hunger strike? Non-violence is a piece of theatre. You need an audience. What can you do when you have no audience? People have the right to resist annihilation.”

GladysMensch's avatar

Physically attacking their headquarters, or their CEO’s (what have you) will result in a minor inconvenience for them, and a likely prison sentence for you. Are you angry enough to go to prison over this? Are you angry enough to possibly blow yourself to bits in a failed attempt? I’m betting not on both counts.

You can’t boycott their products, since they aren’t selling anything. So, that leaves the internet. See if you can get Reddit or 4chan behind you. Both have much larger user bases than Fluther, and much more maniacal… especially 4chan. They will be merciless once they find some dirt on their financial dealings or executives. Hell, 4chan might just do it for the lulz (as the kids say).

the100thmonkey's avatar

How do you fight this?

Encrypt. Everything. Or something.

@gorillapaws: “Violence is lazy, stupid, won’t get you what you want, and the act of someone too narrow minded to take the time to come up with a creative solution.”

That is exactly what they want – copyright terrorists. Because no-one likes a terrorist.

@Zyx – were you pirating? It might not seem that much of an issue to you, but the laws are generally quite clear.

Apart from a commitment to consuming media in exactly the way they want you to, you have little choice, except encryption.

Frankly, you should encrypt everything you do online anyway, inasmuch as it’s possible. That’s my opinion, at least. Even Facebook lets you connect via SSL. Anyone that doesn’t is not to be trusted.

Lightlyseared's avatar

With better and more expensive lawyers than they can afford to fight.

XOIIO's avatar

@Zyx Try just connecting to the IP address, (you put it in the URL bar)

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wundayatta's avatar

Usually when your business is hurt using unfair or illegal tactics, you sue the shit out of them.

HungryGuy's avatar

Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, WIllis? The Pirate Bay is alive and well.

As a writer, I don’t approve of piracy, but the free and open internet is what made it possible for me to bypass publishing houses and other gatekeepers to get my writing and other creative projects out there!

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the100thmonkey's avatar

Switching to something like OpenDNS for your DNS lookup or finding something like The Onion Router to access TPB would work. If the torrent is on multiple trackers, you needn’t worry about finding peers as modern torrent clients exchange peer information anyway.

All you need is to get the .torrent file downloaded and you should be peachy.

In truth, the only real problem you have is finding the .torrent file. Google operators are great for that; in fact, you don’t really need TPB at all. For example

@HungryGuy – a Dutch Court ordered the two biggest ISPs in Holland to block access to TPB with a DNS block (similar to one of the mechanisms proposed under SOPA/PIPA) and an IP address filter. The providers have, however, refused to comply unless directly ordered to do so.

Zyx's avatar

Almost right, Ziggo is the largest and they have in fact blocked access to thepiratebay; as has XS4ALL ironically. KPN and T-Mobile are the ones refusing to comply. We switched to Ziggo a while ago because of digital TV, or at least I think that was the reason. I’m behind 9 proxies so my outrage is more of a moral nature.

HungryGuy's avatar

@the100thmonkey _ That’s great news. I love it that companies in in your country had the balls to stand up to government censors, unlike companies in the USA that will be like sheep and do whatever the government tells them to (“We refused medical care to those homeless babies because it’s the ethical thing to do for our shareholders,” or “XYZ Company humbly apologizes to the American people for voicing an unpopular controversial opinion.”). I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard executives of companies I’ve worked for speak variations of those two statements. That’s part of the reason why I hate corporations!

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