You had to know something like this would happen when the Senate put Orrin Hatch in charge of writing copyright laws. Senator Hatch, of course, is the guy who originally wanted to outlaw the iPod and TiVo with his INDUCE Act, and the guy who wanted to find out how to create a virus that would destroy the computers of anyone who downloaded unauthorized music. So, it shouldn't be much of a surprise to find out that most of the panel session he held today, which was focused on international copyright issues, was filled with rhetoric about how other countries need to shape up. The details, though, show that the panelists, who were all very much on the "copyright maximalist" side of the fence (balance? we don't need no stinkin' balance!) seemed to try to outdo each other in spreading scary stories about terrorists abusing intellectual property, and how we need to make our IP laws even stricter. The best statement, not surprisingly comes from Copyright Register, Marybeth Peters, who blames anyone who is asking for balance for handing arguments to governments to protect organized crime: "What is problematic is that some American commentators who are prone to hyperbole about what they see as an imbalance in the U.S. Copyright Act are providing arguments and rationalizations that foreign governments use to defend their failure to address this type of organized crime." Yup, it turns out that in pointing out all of the reasons why less burdensome intellectual property laws can actually help an economy, we're really just protecting foreign terrorists and organized criminals.
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