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Iraqi journalist gets three years

While the name Muntadhar al-Zeidi may not sound familiar at first, many of you know who he is. Let me refresh your memory. Al-Zeidi is the Iraqi journalist that hurled his shoes at former President George W. Bush. Remember now?

Let me first point out that even though many of us found this to be a laughing matter, it was still in fact an attempted assault. But it was just that, an attempt, and a failed attempt at that.

So why then has al-Zeidi been sentenced to three years in prison? Yes, he threw shoes at our former president, but he missed. His shoes missed the president, not a bullet, not a knife, just shoes.

If nothing else, al-Zeidi has shown America how good Bush’s reflexes are. Even I was impressed, which I never thought I’d be during the Bush administration.

There are many beliefs that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s U.S. backed government was responsible for al-Zeidi’s harsh sentencing. While al-Mailiki denied any interference with the trial, there are still suspicions, according to a March 22, Associated Press article.

This sentencing is far too extreme for this action. Yes the man should be punished. Maybe slapped with a fine and even forced to serve time for a month or so. But three years is an irrational punishment. In fact, I would argue it’s not so much a punishment as it is a political statement, and a corrupt one at that.

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File Sharers Aren't Thieves

Get your jaunty eye-patches ready, it's pirate season here in the United States. And no, I'm not talking about baseball.

I'm talking about the Pirate Bay trials. is reporting that Four defense lawyers for Pirate Bay, a website that allows people to download files from one another, just gave their closing statements on the 11th day in court. If their closing statements work, then it's going to be a beautiful day to be a pirate.

The lawsuit is over copyright issues. People are using the website to download copyrighted material.

The prosecution claims that the people who run Pirate Bay have been making millions off of the website through ad revenue. The defense, in their closing statement, called the claim an exaggeration, and pointed out that the website doesn't pull in enough money through ads to support itself.

Per E. Samuelson claims that, "just because something may have been used by people for illicit purposes, should that mean that there should be an attack on the infrastructure as a result?" He goes on to talk about how, just because a car has a problem, we can't sue the automakers.

But then again, automakers don't have tag lines on their websites that say, "Download music, movies, games, software!"

I have mixed feelings about websites like this. On one hand, it's illegal to steal other people's hard work. On the other, it's hard to justify spending hard earned money on a CD album that only has a few decent tracks on it. It's hard to justify buying a game that has little-to-no replay value. It's hard to justify buying a movie that you've never seen before.

Especially in these times.

File sharing sites like Pirate Bay are just the next logical step of capitalism. If we as a society believe in having a free market economy, we need to be able to try out products before we buy them. It's a way of sussing out what is, and what is not a "good product".

And to the arguments about how file sharers don't contribute back to the owners of the files they steal, I give you this tidbit from about online piracy:

"The entertainment industry’s ongoing to failure to give the customers what they want - that’s to say decent product at a reasonable price - is a major reason for sharing files."

It seems like a bizarre sense of logic, to buy something after you downloaded it. But think about it this way: people who download files, without buying the content, know that they're stealing. If a company makes good content, they'll want that company to stay in business. To make that company stay in business, and to be able to download their files later, file sharers will have to go out and buy the product.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go find my peg leg.

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