With Julian Assange's 15 minutes of fame threatening to cut into royalty revenues, the Wikileaks founder has, for better or worse, decided to monetize on his recent fame. The FT reports that "Julian Assange has signed book deals worth more than £1m in the US and UK, to allow the WikiLeaks founder to cover his legal fees and maintain the whistleblowing site." Specifically, "he has agreed an $800,000 (£520,000) contract with Knopf, a US imprint of Random House, the Bertelsmann-owned publisher, and another £325,000 deal for the UK with Canongate, an independent publishing house based in Edinburgh." And since the publication of these books will likely be predicated upon the continued 'backstopped' existence of the Australian, it is probably quite safe to assume that neither his "insurance" torrent, nor his presumably imminent data dump on one or more US banks will have a bite anywhere commensurate with the much advertised bark.
While many may be tempted to see this as a sell out attempt by the former hacker, his personal opinion is that this is merely an action borne out of necessity:
Although the deals are expected to net Mr Assange more than £1.1m ($1.7m) after the book is sold in other countries and serialised in newspapers around the world, Mr Assange said he had agreed to write his autobiography only reluctantly.
“I don’t want to write this book, but I have to,” he told the Sunday Times. “I have already spent £200,000 for legal costs and I need to defend myself and to keep WikiLeaks afloat.”
Shockingly, Assange is not the only one to soon have to field allegations of selling out:
[Assange] will be racing a disgruntled former colleague to release an autobiography telling his side of the WikiLeaks story. Both books are to be published by divisions of Random House next year.
As to just what the use of proceeds split will be, it is as of yet, unknown:
Mr Assange did not describe how he would divide the proceeds from his autobiography between his own personal legal costs and the operational funds required by WikiLeaks, which he has described as a large and distributed organisation that is not solely reliant on him.
WikiLeaks’ operational costs have more than tripled since it drew up budgeting plans at the beginning of the year, due to the increased scope of information it has reviewed and published. Before “cablegate”, it released huge amounts of files about the Iraqi and Afghan wars.
On the other hand, Assange does deserve the benefit of the doubt: after all the banks and merchant service operators have made public funding for his company next to impossible.
The whistleblowing site relies largely on donations from individuals, but had its fund-raising channels curtailed after several US financial services firms stopped processing payments to its account.
Bank of America, MasterCard, Visa and PayPal have all stopped directing funds to WikiLeaks in recent weeks. They deny Mr Assange’s accusations that the actions were politically motivated. Mr Assange’s Swiss bank has also frozen his account.
That said, there is nothing the big banks would like than to have the broader population perceive Assange as a sell out and no longer give credence to any future disclosures.
In conclusion, Assange has so far demonstrated he is a useful distributor of data, which for the most part has proven to be perfectly innocuous to date, and nothing that nobody with half a brain could not have figured out on their own. Yes, the confirmation is damning of those in control, but it is not like anyone doubted their stupidity in the first place. We have yet to see Assange release something that may actually be a game changer for that most important aspect of modern life: that of financial control. And with each passing day, we, as well as everyone else, are getting increasingly disenchanted with Mr. Assange's disclosure policies: the longer he delays releasing whatever ruinous bank information he has (if any) the less the impact of such data on the banking system will ultimately be. After all there is an economic "recovery" (or so we are brainwashed into believing every day), and fairly soon nobody will even object that Wall Street is staring at a comp pool that is about 6 times greater than the net income generated by the entire industry. Because after all, that is what Ben Bernanke wants. And who even dares to think any more about challenging the Chairman.