Are Entertainment Industry Profits More Important Than Civil Rights?

from the questions-worth-asking dept

Fzzr points us to Rick Falkvinge's recent writeup explaining why the argument that newer, more draconian copyright laws need to be passed to protect the profits of the legacy industry players is no excuse for trampling on civil rights. He compares the situation to Blackwater in Iraq:
When Blackwater Security was playing Grand Theft Auto among civilians in Iraq in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks, with which Iraq had nothing to do, how would you react if they had issued the following statement?

– “Our profits are being hampered by the civilians’ rights. It is not fair. In all fairness, we demand that torture should be allowed preemptively to find suspects or people that we find interesting, or because it can boost our profit. Also, we demand the right to detain civilians at will and indefinitely, because we could charge Uncle Sam for that too, boosting our profits even further.”

How would you react to that?

Let’s take another scenario from Blackwater in Iraq:

– “Our profits are being hampered by the rights of the people. It is not fair. Our profits are falling. In all fairness, we demand the introduction of wanton censorship, allowing us to discover and prevent people from talking about subjects we don’t like. Also, we demand to hold messengers responsible to some amount of punishment we determine if they carry sealed letters containing something we don’t like. That way, our profits could perhaps be restored to their former glory. After all, it’s only fair.”
And then he notes that this is, effectively, what the copyright industry is doing.

Of course, I already know the responses. The first will be that infringement is not a civil right. And, the second is that comparing the copyright players to Blackwater is unfair and a low blow. And both of those points may be true, but are not addressing the key point. The problem with these new laws being passed are not that they're designed to stop infringement, but that they're stopping all sorts of legitimate forms of speech as well. And that is something to be seriously concerned about. And, yes, it is all in the name of trying to keep profits up for some legacy players, even as those players resist every attempt to adapt to a changing market.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 7:09pm

    the profits of the people paying the bills is most important to congress

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 7:27pm

      Re:

      That should be the people, since copyright holders don't pay taxes on their "property".

      Copyright holders also don't pay the majority of taxes either that is the vast majority of people who don't own any IP and still pay more than half the taxes.

       

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        blaktron (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 8:34am

        Re: Re:

        I actually think you may have just saved copyright with that offhand observation. Make people pay property taxes on IP. Simple. There would absolutely NO desire to hold onto copyrights for centuries in that case, the labels would probably want them gone after year 5 at the latest...

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 7:29pm

    Some people may think that it is, but they will be brought down from that dream at one point when the angry masses come to their door demanding to know why they should shoulder all the burdens so others can have comfy lives when they don't get that luxury.

     

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    davebarnes (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 7:33pm

    Rhetorical question...

    "Are Entertainment Industry Profits More Important Than Civil Rights?"

    ...I presume.

     

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    MrWilson, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 7:38pm

    The entertainment execs don't worry about civil rights because they have enough money to buy themselves civil rights.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 7:49pm

    I am having a problem trying to figure out this statement:

    "The problem with these new laws being passed are not that they're designed to stop infringement, but that they're stopping all sorts of legitimate forms of speech as well."

    What legitimate free speech has been stopped (aside from chats or blog entries on infringing sites?)

     

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      Jay (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 7:57pm

      Re:

      Your right to peaceably assemble and discuss the problem with ICE's takedowns?

      Maybe the right to own a website and use Google Adsense for advertisements?

      Increased third party liability? Something tells me, you're not even going to listen, merely try to deflect the answer...

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:19pm

        Re: Re:

        Jay, we can chat about the ICE takedowns all day. In fact, I would say that it has been talked to death here already. I have yet to see any of the ICE takedowns hurting legitimate free speech, except for some speech surrounding and supporting fiarly significant infringement.

        So would you care to try again?

         

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          Greevar (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 10:29pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Try saying that again, but without the false rhetoric.

           

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            Jay (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 10:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Darth Vader couldn't pry that kind of logic out of him...

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 11:06pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            What rhetoric? Sites about infringing copyright, linking to infringing material, embedding infringing material, and encouraging discussions on how to obtain infringing material isn't exactly something that is (or should be) protected by the first amendment.

            Can you explain what protected speech was blocked again? I missed your answer.

             

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              The eejit (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 11:22pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              We're talking about fansites, which are only there to support the things that people love. And yes, some of them HAVE been taken down (*see Summit Entertainment, Lucasfilm for more information).

               

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              Brendan (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:14am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              install utorrent
              go to pirate bay
              search for movie or tv show name
              download torrent
              wait
              watch

              i think my post is perfectly legitimate free speech, as ive broken no laws.

              but to you, it can be shutdown without concern? because it explains something you dont like?

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:27am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:


              What rhetoric? Sites about infringing copyright, linking to infringing material, embedding infringing material, and encouraging discussions on how to obtain
              infringing material isn't exactly something that is (or should be) protected by the first amendment.





              Care to provide a citation for this broad statement?
              Encouraging and discussing how or where to obtain illegal content would seem to be protected under Brandenburg v. Ohio and subsequent cases holding that advocating
              lawless action is protected by the First Amendment.

               

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              Richard (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 2:34am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Can you explain what protected speech was blocked again? I missed your answer.

              try asking Dmitry Skylarov

              Or Ed Felten (see the section about SDMI ) that question and they can give you a pretty thorough answer.

              Or the 84000 websites that were inadvertently taken down by ICE.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 6:02am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              There have been no cases in the US where a website owner has been found liable for linking to copyrighted material.

               

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              Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 7:20am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You are assuming that ALL the content of these websites are in relation to infringing, which is laughable. Check out this snapshot of the discussion forums dated July 6th, 2010. You start at the top and there certainly are forums about getting TV on internet. If you scroll down, there are forums about futbol in different countries which would be protected speech as far as I know since other soccer forums haven't been seized by ICE.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 7:29am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Nope, I don't make that assumption. The courts have already ruled that some protected speech may be hurt while stopping unprotected speech, and that this is acceptable.

                More importantly, if there isn't such an allowance, some incredibly bad speech could be protected just by posting a cake recipe on the same site or by putting up a couple of pictures of someone's pet. It would be like a drug dealer who sells his drugs wrapped in a poem, and claiming that the drugs are not an issue because stopping him from selling drugs would limit his first amendment rights on the poetry. It's a laughable piece of logic, one that could only come up on Techdirt.

                 

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                  Sneeje (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 7:55am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Okay, so you now grant that some speech is blocked--you just don't believe that anyone should be concerned about the speech that gets blocked.

                  False DCMA notices never block valuable speech, injunctions never affect valuable speech, etc.

                  I think the others in the thread believe that ANY speech, that is not obviously infringing is worthy of protection. I do as well--any other position allows for too much variation and the likely inclusion of even extremely worthy speech.

                   

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                  Greevar (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 9:53am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  In any instance where basic rights (such as speech) are breached other laws, the scope is very narrow and the terms are very specific. Laws auxiliary to copyright tend to be neither; rather, they are broad in scope and not very specific.

                   

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                  Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:24pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  You said, "Can you explain what protected speech was blocked again?"

                  I replied. Now you're just changing your tune...as usual. But at least you admit that protected speech is being blocked.

                   

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                  Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:26pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  By the way...where can I get some of that poem laced heroine your shootin' up? =]

                   

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 6:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          How about the speech of the 80,000-plus legitimate businesses that were knocked off the web and had their homepages replaced with government notices that they were distributing child porn because ICE agents couldn't figure out the difference between a domain and a subdomain? Does that qualify as "hurting legitimate free speech" in your world? If not, I'm glad I live here in a world where the government shutting down means of communication without notice, hearing, rhyme or reason still pisses people off. You should try that concept out sometime. The benefits of free speech far outweigh its dangers.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:13pm

      Re:

      "What legitimate free speech has been stopped (aside from legitimate free speech?)"

      Great question!

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 10:10pm

      Re:

      So, you're saying that there will *never* be a situation where a legitimate non-infringing site is accused of infringement, and immediately removed from the internet?...no never?

      Oh wait, that has already happened several times, without any consequence.

       

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 7:55pm

    ... infringement is not a civil right./em>

    The problem is that free speech IS a civil right, and that's what is being curtailed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:02pm

    Guilds

    One of the greatest inventions is the printing press. The reason it was so important is that one of the things you could print with it are "how to" books. Back in those days munch of the knowledge of how to do something was tied up in the guild system. And those guilds were not keen on their knowledge being spread about.

    Funny how the entertainment industry seems rife with "guilds" as well.

    The internet should be a huge boon to people. I can store my entire DVD collection in a little box and easily stream it to my TV. But only in spite of the entertainment industry and not because of it. They try everything they can to prevent this.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 8:20pm

    But none of the "regular" people ever think beyond themselves.
    They are told that "piracy" funds terrorism, fake drugs, fake toys, and make their lives horrible. So they willingly give up more and more in the name of safety.

    I wonder how people would react to find out that Darth Vader is still to this day is being told the movie has yet to make a dime. Only when you can get the media controlled news to actually put things into perspective for them do people seem to notice, and rarely even then do they want to do anything.

    If they were to see Blackwater make those statements, they would have been horrified and demanded something happen. But then they saw the evils Blackwater did and something was done, they changed their name, sacrificed some chaff, and they continued doing what they were doing and everyone assumed it was all fixed now.

     

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    G Thompson (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:42pm

    This quote by RAH in 1939 pops up every so often, even I have posted it once before, but it needs to be placed into 30mile high glowing letters that can be seen on the moon as far as I am concerned


    "There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped or turned back, for their private benefit."
    -- Robert A. Heinlein, Life Line, 1939

     

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      Greevar (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 10:34pm

      Re: G Thompson

      Businesses and corporations are supposed to be subordinate to the people, not vice versa. RAH was perceptive.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 11:54pm

      Re:

      *Two Thumbs Up* Fast shipping, would buy from again!!!!

       

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      blaktron (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 8:42am

      Re:

      Of course, a lot of his works should be in the public domain now and aren't, and thats a shame because his body of work is easily on par with Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, but we aren't taught his masterpieces in schools or given copies for free because of copyright. And the sad thing is, as evidenced by this quote and many many more, he would make a different choice for his work were he alive and in control.

       

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    Galashiels (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 10:52pm

    Robert A. Heinlein

    I've never seen that quote from Heinlein.


    "...Within the framework of his science fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly addressed certain social themes: the importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation individuals owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress non-conformist thought." [Source: Wikipedia]


    Movie industry profits where at an all time high last year. They gotta do something to protect their legacy businesses, I suppose.

     

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    Scooters (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 3:35am

    A challenging side to the coin.

    "And, the second is that comparing the copyright players to Blackwater is unfair and a low blow."
    How is it a low blow when the industry started it first by comparing infringement to the Boston Strangler and, more recently, child pornography (which is "great")?

    Those who would object to such comparisons should first be reminded those against (the failures of) copyright laws weren't the first to tie human rights and civil actions together.

    Consider this before posting.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 7:31am

      Re: A challenging side to the coin.

      It is beyond a low blow, because it creates an incredibly biased view, a strawman of sorts, and paints the situation with a horrible, nasty broadbrush.

      It's typical Techdirt bullshit, but you guys all seem to buy it.

      If someone did the same thing in discussing Pirate Bay, all you freetards would be wetting your pants in anger. Get over your bad selves already.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 7:59am

        Re: Re: A challenging side to the coin.

        Complain about the same broad brush used by youself the RIAA/MPAA and other IP supporters and we'll believe your point has some validity.

         

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    deane (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 3:47am

    to all the detractors,

    let us say for the moment that one of the admins of a supposed "INFRINGING" site decides he will put a video denouncing all the profits and tax abuse that the RIAA/MPAA does. he posts this video on his site, and tells the sites users to spread this far and wide. his site is pulled by ICE and his video taken down. has a 1st amendment violation happened? this is just 1 possible way for his civil rights to be taken away. another is a user of the site does the same thing. its all the same under the law. censorship in ANY capacity is wrong. no matter whether a site WHICH HAS never stood a day in court to even be tried for ANYTHING has been censored.

     

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    crade (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 7:27am

    If the answer turns out to be no, could I get a refund on the past 20 years or so?

     

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    Sneeje (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 7:33am

    "What legitimate free speech has been stopped (aside from chats or blog entries on infringing sites?)"

    Let's break this down a bit. If we accept that no legitimate speech has been blocked, then we must also accept that every single DCMA takedown, every single domain seizure, and every single injunction that prevented the release of an allegedly infringing item was absolutely and without question, correct.

    That to me seems to fail on its face--it cannot possibly be true given that the definitions of infringing are not discrete and that the processes to achieve the above ends allow for discretion.

    So, if we then conclude that SOME speech was blocked--the argument cannot be that no speech was blocked, but how concerned are we about the speech that is blocked and just how much it is blocked.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 11:08am

      Re:

      sneeje, as I said "aside from chats or blog entries on infringing sites", what was blocked? The answer from what I can see is nothing.

      free speech is not unlimited, nor can it be used as a shield to protect from responsibility for other bad acts. You cannot, as an example, recite a poem and shoot someone at the same time, and claim the shooting is protected as part of the free speech. You cannot claim a right to keep shooting people as part of your free speech to recite poetry.

      The courts have long since ruled that some free speech may be impeded when illegal acts are stopped. That doesn't suggest widespread violations of the first amendment, it doesn't stop discussion, and in the cases of sites like Rojo, doesn't even appear to have stopped anyone from any speech at all.

      Complaining about a very small amount of speech uttered by those participating in or benefiting from illegal acts blocked isn't something that is going to get much favour in the courts.

       

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        Sneeje (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 11:39am

        Re: Re:

        I think you missed an important part of my point. You keep asserting that the only speech that is blocked is that "participating in or benefiting from" illegal acts and the rest of your response flows from this premise. However, I think I've definitively shown that isn't the only speech getting blocked and not by a large margin.

        I grant that free speech is not unlimited, however, those limits are extremely narrow. And I'm quite frankly fine with speech that participates in or benefits from illegal acts. But I have a HUGE problem with speech getting blocked as collateral damage or speech getting blocked in situations where the question of illegality is even somewhat in question (i.e., ICE seizures).

        Matters of copyright are very complex, the law is not settled, and it differs from state to state and country to country. Regardless of individual opinions about the behavior of those involved in the ICE seizures, I don't see how they can be classified as not "somewhat in question".

         

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    weneedhelp (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 11:03am

    comparing the copyright players to Blackwater is unfair and a low blow.

    I know. Someone at TD needs to apologize to Blackwater.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 3:48pm

    Question - If Hollywood accounting shows every movie loosing millions and never being profitable, why are we spending so much of the public's resources on keeping them in business?

    On paper every film looks like a loss, and yet the money these studios earn are supposed to entitle them to extra super laws to make them safe, ie to big to not help.

    I wonder if a Congresscritter would explode if you pointed out that Return of the Jedi has yet to turn a profit on paper, yet it is one of the biggest winners of all time for making money. I wonder if they trying to backpedal and try to explain why a failing industry like this needs more laws would cause them to just wink out of existence.

     

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    JR, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 4:07pm

    And now for something completely different

    True the assertion that congress has accepted bribes from the MPAA/RIAA/Chamber of congress has all the appearances of being true.

    But why is DHS/ICE involved? How about a conspiracy by the government to gain broad censorship powers and effective control over the internet before someone else does? Seems improbable but how else to explain things like Obama's jobs bill requiring the FCC to strong arm TV stations into giving up bandwidth? Their rights are well established, as opposed to those who are going to use that bandwidth. After all the government feels that the First and Fourth amendments don't apply to modern technology!

     

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