anonymous poster for operation paybackWhatever KISS frontman Gene Simmons does, he does balls out. Making rock music for your mom? Balls out. Rocking out while making it with your mom? Balls out. Misunderstanding the internet at the same level as your mom? Balls out.

Since Saturday, the servers behind genesimmons.com have been up and down, courtesy of a denial-of-service attack by non other than the internet's favorite vigilante malcontents and all-around party guys: Anonymous.

The attack came in response to comments Simmons made about his litigious stance on file-sharing at the MIPCOM convention in Cannes, France earlier this month:

The music industry was asleep at the wheel and didn't have the balls to sue every fresh-faced, freckle-faced college kid who downloaded material.
Simmons' approach to file-sharers and their faces hasn't changed since this interview with Billboard in 2007.
Every little college kid, every freshly-scrubbed little kid's face should have been sued off the face of the earth. They should have taken their houses and cars and nipped it right there in the beginning. Those kids are putting 100,000 to a million people out of work.

Although his message hasn't changed, his timing couldn't have been worse. For just over a month, Anonymous has been embroiled in Operation Payback: an ideological crusade against copyright law, targeting the MPAA, RIAA, BPI, AFACT, and BREIN to name only a few, as well as other artists who criticize file-sharers, like Lily Allen and the label Ministry of Sound. (See their announcement on Pastebin.)

In the brief moments that genesimmons.com was back online on Sunday, Simmons posted the following threat against Anonymous. (via slyck)
Some of you may have heard a few popcorn farts re: our sites being threatened by hackers.
Our legal team and the FBI have been on the case and we have found a few, shall we say "adventurous" young people, who feel they are above the law.
And, as stated in my MIPCOM speech, we will sue their pants off.
First, they will be punished.
Second, they might find their little butts in jail, right next to someone who's been there for years and is looking for a new girl friend.
We will soon be printing their names and pictures.
We will find you.
You cannot hide.
Stay tuned
Implied prison rape aside, Simmons lacks a basic understanding of what a distributed denial-of-service (or DDoS) attack is and how it works. The site was not hacked into. Instead, hundreds, if not thousands of computers repeatedly connected to his website, overwhelming the capacity of the servers. Finding logs of the IP addresses of each system that connected to the site should be no problem. Discerning those that connected maliciously from those who were simply visiting is nearly impossible.

He might as well be yelling "You dun goofed" at a webcam like an angry dad.

Undoubtedly, time that the server is down is money lost. Seeking damages for that is understandable. But purely for the sake of conjecture, suppose that every single person involved in the DDoS could be identified. Who gets sued? The RIAA tried to sue over 30,000 of their potential customers, ending the 5 year long campaign before laying off over 100 employees last year.

There's something about spending all of your resources suing your potential customers that just seems to be bad for business. Whenever you've sued one, there are two more in its place.

From the beginning, the purpose of the internet has been to facilitate communication, and it's great at it. When an idea is strong enough, it resonates within all sorts of leaderless networks. Once anything is shared online (from a basic concept to a specific piece of media), the original creator can never hope to maintain total control of it. Pro-piracy ideology can't be sued out of existence.

It's just like how you can try to take a popular video down from YouTube, but there are plenty of others who have copies saved and ready to be re-posted.


When Constable Adam Josephs arrested a young woman at Toronto's G20 Summit, characterizing her bubble blowing as assault, viewers went to work satirizing "Officer Bubbles" with cartoons.

Josephs is suing YouTube for defamation, demanding that they identify the creators of the cartoons. While it's possible that the creators could be identified, keeping the rest of the internet from re-posting the cartoons is impossible.

What these YouTube users, Anonymous, P2P file-sharers, everybody is proving, is that we need to revise old ideas about intellectual property and freedom of expression. Either that, or stay away from the internet.