What to do if your car gets broken into and you're the MPAA

In a guest editorial on TechDirt, Harold Feld ruminates on the recent theft of his iPod from the front seat of his car, and imagines what his response to this difficulty might have been like, had he been the MPAA:

1. Berate the cop who answered my call for not stopping the crime before it happened. I would also go around to everyone in my neighborhood and accuse them of "supporting theft" from their failure to set up a neighborhood watch to protect my right to leave my iPod in the front seat of my car.

2. When the cop told me that I could reduce the likelihood of future car break-ins by keeping electronics hidden, I would shout at the cop for "supporting theft." After all, I have a perfect right to keep my iPod in my car, prominently displayed if I want. How dare this cop tell me to change my behavior to avoid getting robbed!

3. Later, I would try to get the cop who advised me on how to avoid future car break-ins fired for "abetting car thieves." I would conduct a public smear campaign in which I accused this cop of being in bed with thieves, fences, and other nefarious dealers in stolen goods because he "supports theft" by advising me how to avoid future car break-ins rather than setting a 24/7 guard on my driveway or preemptively arresting anyone who looks like he or she might steal my iPod. After all, if you really cared about stopping theft, you wouldn't tell me to change my behavior or take steps to protect myself! I have a perfect right to leave my iPod in my front seat, and theft is wrong. So telling me to hide my iPod to avoid a break in means you don't really want to enforce the law.

4. While I'm at it, I will also accuse my neighbors of secretly wanting to steal my iPod. They have motive (who wouldn't want a free iPod?) and opportunity, so they are all prime suspects. I will demand the police conduct a house-to-house search. If they are too busy, I insist the police give ME the right to do a house-to-house search...

If I Were The MPAA... How I Would Deal With My Car Break-In


  1. What I don’t understand about this analogy is the whole ‘front seat’ thing. How is someone releasing a movie supposed to ‘hide’ it from being stolen? 

  2. I thought the gist of the post was going to be about filing a police report for a stolen iPod with a street value of $8 million.

  3. The american music industry is is sickening.  Big labels go through a ton of effort to unsuccessfully stem piracy, and still never deliver anything but an insignificant fraction to their artists.

  4. While your at it, leave your wallet, passport and other personal valuables in plain sight in the wind shield and bitch after wards the cops support theft.

    What is MPAA?

    Unless it was insured, your out of luck. Serial numbers are seldom run at pawn shops if it was pawned and not sold out right to the shop.

    1. *blink*
      MPAA – Motion Picture Association of America.
      You might have heard of them before, they were the assholes who wanted to break the internet to protect their precious movies.
      They wanted the right to spy on everyone to make sure you all behaved, the right to skip courts to make sure you don’t have unlicensed content and haven’t format shifted things you own.
      Oh and they want everyone else to pay to protect their property so they don’t have to change the business model.

  5. “You wouldn’t steal an iPod.
    You wouldn’t steal a handbag.
    You wouldn’t steal a baby.
    You wouldn’t shoot a policeman! And take his helmet…”

    1.  The update to that features the police shooting the girl’s parents, their ISP,  the CEO of the company that made the PC and Google.

    1. Funny, I’ve never heard anyone complain about my college advising women to avoid unlit paths late at night and to travel in groups when possible to avoid just such a situation, so obviously there’s more to it than just “advising people on ways to avoid becoming a victim is bad”, which is what you seem to be implying.

      And the article isn’t about that so much as what the “MPAA” would expect to be done in response.

      1.  It’s not that; it’s putting the onus to avoid sexual assault on the woman and the implied assumption that if a woman gets sexually assaulted it’s her fault for avoiding the rules.  And the analogy made by the top commenter – and why this is a skeevy analogy – is that the OP is encouraging us to mock the MPAA for lack of realism and overweening sense of entitlement in precisely the way MRAs in comments on sexual assault on campus etc mock women for daring to be visibly female in public and not expect to get raped.

    2. So I should be able to leave my front door of my house wide open, my wallet on the front seat of my car… with the keys in the ignition, the door to my safe wide open, and leave my child alone in the park so I don’t appear to be a chauvinist?

      Your emotionally charged example doesn’t apply here.

      1. In an ideal world, yes. You should be able to trust the people around you. 

        But the flip side of this is that we need DRM. If the car owner is entitled to policing, so is the RIAA. And if the car owner is supposed to just lock stuff up and hide it from the front seat, then the RIAA should be encouraged to use DRM.

    3. That is because the clothes you wear are a personal, and in many cases, somewhat emotionally charged, issue. There really isn’t a comparison.

    4. I think that’s because exactly this line of reasoning has been used to death by chauvinistic pigs.
      While I agree that a sufficiently attractive female, walking through a dark alley in a bikini will increase the risk of rape compared to wearing something gender-neutral, and I also know that a woman’s appearance can be extremely distracting if sufficiently sexed-up, the same line of reasoning can (and has been) applied to everything that makes a girl look not like a nun. It has also been used (and still is) by chauvinists to excuse their own behaviour. “If she didn’t want me to do that, she shouldn’t have dressed so inviting, not my fault”.
      => That line is burnt, you cannot use it anymore.

      The problem is that “sexy clothing” is wonderfully undefinable. What makes one guy feel uncomfortable may be “actively trying to hide your gender” to someone else. There is no commonly accepted base for this, so you can’t really make any objective statement.
      Also, clothing is a form of personal expression and part of people’s identity. If you attack that you get emotional responses from most people.

      … and then there’s the argument that a rapist doesn’t decide to become one based on some girl’s clothes but probably just chooses his victim based on that. So there’s a good chance that clothing just plays a role in who will be the victim, not how many victims there will be. => If you want to have less rape, educate people to not do it.

  6. Also, after those three other times when I thought my iPod was stolen, but each case actually turned out as:
    1- the iPod just slipped from the seat and fell under it, ironically getting hidden from view and theft
    2- it turns out I put it in my bag and forgot about it
    3- I loaned it to a friend and forgot about it
    …and for each of these cases, I accused my neighbors, so after 3 strikes they MUST be guilty, and should be under house arrest.  Because I say so.

  7. Wow, I can’t believe they left out “I would demand a halt on production of the car model by a manufacturer whose irresponsible construction encouraged this theft until the security problem is addressed, and pass legislation that automatically shuts down all future manufacturing of this model after three such notifications.”

  8. Loved this.
    I see just one flaw: The guy refusing to not leave the iPad on the front seat — that’d be like the MPAA refusing to use stronger DRM, wouldn’t it?

  9. Yeah, yeah, MPAA is bad, tl;dr.
    That’s a Hindustan Ambassador (nee Morris Oxford) in the picture, right?

    1.  Good thing you said ‘download’ and not ‘own’.

      How about this: Revise your obviously failing business model.

      1. The business model works, but people will take advantage wherever they can to save a buck.

        Take Game of Thrones for example, an acclaimed, popular show.  You can download and watch it in HD for 3.99 an episode on iTunes, and yet, its wildly pirated.

        Why is that?  Is that the business model failing, or is it people taking advantage of technology and short changing artists and filmmakers in the process?

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