Congress Gives $30 Million To Fight 'Piracy'

from the why? dept

Recent studies have shown that — despite a massive recession — both the music and movie industries are having fantastic years. However, both industries are complaining about how they’re being “killed” by “piracy.” There’s no evidence of this of course, but when it comes to copyright, politicians don’t seem to believe evidence is necessary. They just spring into action. So, just as a bunch of Federal government representatives sat down for a private meeting with entertainment industry bosses, Congress agreed to earmark another $30 million to propping up their obsolete business models fighting “piracy.” It’s a nice deal. Copyright infringement should, by any honest definition of the term, be a civil issue, taken up between private parties. There is a criminal component to copyright law, but it makes little sense. However, now the Justice Department and other local officials have a pool of cash so that they can be the entertainment industry’s police force and private prosecutors.

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Comments on “Congress Gives $30 Million To Fight 'Piracy'”

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55 Comments
Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

analogy time

The old rule, was analoguous to this:
if you played music in your own home, your neighbours only needed to complain about the noise three times, before your electricity got cut off.

Under the new rule, the neighbours would need 3 police reports, before your electricity gets cut off.

It’s marginally more fair, but hardly the right punishment.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Simple, they still refuse to give the content how the market wants it. Able to move from device to device.
Not to mention they screw over the artist every chance they get, both before and during piracy.
This means they are obsolete as they are no longer needed.
It is quite easy these days for bands to be more in touch with fans and get promotion plenty of ways without one of the old archaic labels stealing all the money from them.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I actually agree with about half of this. I said the car companies should have been let to die. They knew what was coming and they did nothing. The same can be said about quite a few other companies.

As for the road thing, it’s not free money. The government has to provide the actual roads. Same with a lot of other stuff.

I have no idea what you’re talking about with the sugar.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Sugar is heavily subsidized by the government, as is almost every food crop, the ethanol in your gas, most baseball, football, and hockey arenas in professional sports get some sort of preferential government break on taxes or financial aid. NASCAR just got it’s 65 million dollar a year tax break passed again for another year. From local governments to the federal level, special tax breaks, loopholes, pay outs, and property tax exemptions are created all the time to make things happen.

How many hundreds of millions have been put into making the Internet more available in rural areas? Turn the internet off, it’s a government money pit, a bad business model!

The logic is shockingly ignorant.

Steve R. (profile) says:

The Flip Side - Consumer Protection

It continues to astound me that we can fund more law enforcement personnel to fight “piracy”. However, when it comes to the abusive tactics of companies in defrauding the consumer the issue of using the power of the State to protect the consumer’s interest evaporates. Not only that but those complaining about consumer protection raise the specter of the Nanny State.

Companies incessantly whine about how “consumer protection” will hurt their business, so we have to give them “flexibility”. Furthermore, many claim that we need “small” government and consumer protection is the consumers responsibility. After all we don’t want to have a Nanny State.

Well if we want smaller government and not a Nanny State, logically we should NOT be enhancing (enlarging) the law enforcement bureaucracy. It also logically follows that when consumer protection is the responsibility of the consumer, then protection from piracy is a company responsibility and NOT a State responsibility.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The Flip Side - Consumer Protection

If they have truly defrauded you personally, file charges. Contact your local police and file fraud charges against them, but be ready to really back up your assertions. None of this “I wanted to do this, but by the terms I bought something I couldn’t do it” sort of thing. Real fraud, please actually show it.

Otherwise, you are in the tin foil brigade.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The Flip Side - Consumer Protection

I disagree what people must do is to create their own alternatives.

Create community financial institutions, create their own community networks that will link to their own IXP(local and international), create our own culture with films and music that is accessible to all excluding the parasitic corporations and their bad influences.

This probably would create a better market for local jobs.

Tyanna says:

Re: Re: The Flip Side - Consumer Protection

In your attempt to put down Steve R.’s comment, you made the point that this is all about.

What proof do the record and movie industry’s have? If anything, all the proof is pointing to the fact that piracy is actually HELPING their bottom line, not hindering it. And yet, they have made theses claims that they have been defrauded to the government, and the government is buying it and is forking out more money to help them, when in truth they don’t need help at all.

And yet, record and movie industry are not a part of the tin foil brigade are they? No no, they are the ‘victims’ here. Not the artists, not the fans, not the consumers. No, the oppressors are the victims b/c their power is being taken away.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Re: Re: The Flip Side - Consumer Protection

So the RIAA or the MPPA can simply phone their local FBI agent who then kicks open my door at 3AM, drags me off to jail,and then I have to post a $1 gazillion bond to get out of jail on there mere assertion that I did something wrong.

Now if the they do something wrong to me, I have to hire a lawyer at my expense and go through an agonizing 100 year civil process to get my $20 thingy fixed.

What is wrong with this picture?

Tor (profile) says:

Civil issue?

“Copyright infringement should, by any honest definition of the term, be a civil issue”

Is that really a given? If you view copyright as a form of property or natural right then it makes sense. But if you view copyright as a way to try to promote the public good, is it then really so strange to view it as a criminal issue?
Just wondering…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Civil issue?

In theory, shoplifting should also be a civil matter (failure to respect the payment contract), and for that matter, auto accidents are entirely a civil matter (yet a drunk driver faces criminal charges?).

There is plenty of basis for the government to step in a take action to fix the legal definitions of theft to include software and music piracy. The legislative bodies might actually catch up to the end of the 20th century one of these days.

Benjie says:

“Obsolete business model? Can you be any more negative?

Remove the piracy, and explain to me how the business model is “obsolete”.”

#1. Copies of content are free to make.
#2. Piracy is part of any system that is free to copy.
#3. They can no longer charge for content, but must charge for a service, just like everyone else does now-a-days

Adey says:

Piracy

The only way to fully eliminate piracy would be to do the following three things;
(1)Turn off the entire Internet…permanently.
(2)Confiscate and or replace every computer in the entire world along with every piece of software.
(3)Arrest and intern every computer programmer indefinately.

Being as this would be absurd (not to mention impossible) it is not unreasonable to suggest that perhaps the music industry is going to have to change its business practice in order to survive. Some of the artists dont help matters by flaunting their wealth so ostentatiously you cant blame a youngster for thinking its ok to copy music files when all they see is Diamonds and Bling
you cannot blame a youngster for thinking

Anonymous Coward says:

Possibly not as bad as it sounds...

This isn’t a bad idea if a portion of the funds are allocated to Government Research into the definition and piracy life cycle and how it affects current and ongoing commercial activities.

Mike, how are your writing skills? 😛 Could you pull some people together like Lessig, et al, and look into submitting a report? $30M in the whole grand scheme of things isn’t a lot of money.

Liquid (profile) says:

Yeah you know what is going on! ! ! ! !

We all know what is going on. We all know that politicians use what ever hot button they can find with the “Powerful People” to make sure they get elected again. Either by throwing money at their problems for example not making as much money as they used to. People don’t want to have to pay five different amount to be able to use what they buy for an expensive price in all their stuff.

I personally as do many a people that when I buy something all-be-it a book, movie, etc… I paid that money to own that, and with that cost I should be able to do what I want with it. You don’t see when people sell their used junk at yard sales the record companies, or movie studios diving in for their cut. All they want is more money for that to pass from one hand to another. Personally I think that is wrong when a person buys a copy of a copy.

Personally I think its completely asinine that the government decided to step in on this. Granted with all that has happened through out the past year, and all the money the spent to other businesses to bail them out of trouble. They don’t need to spend money on areas of services that when times get tough people spend their money to take their minds of what is going on. Common you don’t see Wal-Marts stocks going up during a recession. People don’t flock their to buy groceries. spending $150 a week for food when they can spend 1/4 to half 1/2 that a week by going to McDonald’s. You should have seen McDonald’s stocks go up at the end of last year…

I am pretty sure you would have seen the same trend in the movie, and music industries (concerts). when times are down people dont want to be depressed thinking about how bad stuff is simple as that.

Karl (user link) says:

Piracy as Bootlegging

What’s interesting to me is that outside the tech blogs, the “piracy” being talked about is actual counterfeiting.

From The Register (UK): http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/12/14/congress_earmarks_30m_ip_crime/

“This is the season these criminals lure in unwitting holiday shoppers and sell them substandard and sometimes dangerous goods.”

And yet, two thirds of the $30 million are going towards “targeting piracy on the internet or using ‘high technology.'”

It looks like the MPAA and RIAA are doing the old bait-and-switch: asking for money to fight organizations that sell counterfeit goods for profit, and using it to target consumers who share content as fans.

If our politicians can’t see the difference between the two, no wonder they’re in the coporations’ back pockets.

Laurel L. Russwurm (profile) says:

priorities

The copyright lobby uses the word Piracy to refer to two very different things.

Bootlegging is commercial copyright infringement: movies or music is copied and mass produced for retail sale, often to an unsuspecting public. Bootleggers make a profit.

Piracy should more properly be called Personal Use Copying because it is non commercial copyright infringement. Pirates don’t make a profit. But of course the word “Pirate” sounds so much sexier… my son tells me teen age girls are still swooning over Johnny Depp. 

“Pirates” infringe copyright for various reasons, sometimes

  • accidentally, when making any kind of a recording you better be careful there is no radio or TV playing nearby or YOU will be a pirate too…
  • oh, and don’t sing “Happy Birthday” on your home video to be on the safe side…
  • to format shift products they have purchased for their own use,
  • to make available to the disabled,
  • or to share with friends on the internet.

Which is why it’s called “file sharing”     in the wind: Personal Use Copying vs. Bootlegging

The growing European “Pirate Party” movement is now setting up in Canada. It exists to push for sane copyright reform.

As Mr. Masnick points out copyright should be (and still is in most parts of the world, at least until ACTA, anyway) a civil issue. Music Bootlegging didn’t start with the internet, it began the moment the first consumer tape recorder existed.

The irony is that these laws don’t actually do anything to fight bootlegging. If anything, industry attempts to criminalize consumers ensures we will not lift a finger against commercial infringement (the same way that bandits are idolized and supported under any repressive regime.) If you accidentally purchase a bootleg movie are you gonna call the RCMP or the FBI?    And risk going to jail?    I don’t think so.

The the movie studios have seen what has been happening in the music biz. 30% of the music industry has gone independent, so musicians no longer have to sell their souls in inequitable record company deals to get recorded. The technology has made DIY possible. It isn’t cheap but it is do-able. The movie biz is worried it will happen to them too. Look at Nina Paley’s wonderful movie Sita Sings the Blues

If Congress has an extra $30 million laying around I would have thought there would be no end of good works they could perform with that… it might be better spent supporting Bookshare‘s efforts to make copyright works available to the reading disabled. (Particularly since the increased copyright laws will only make Bookshare‘s work much more difficult.

But the movie biz (even with record profits) wants the government to become their collection agency. Um. In a world so cash strapped it is difficult to understand why governments would want to do this. Law enforcement is bloody expensive. Who will be paying for this? (Too often governments forget that we are the prime source of their income.)

Tell your government representatives what you think about copyright. If you don’t, they will continue to bask in the glow of the “movie star treatment” that has them all aflutter. They need to be reminded that their first responsibility is to you.

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