Not To Be Overlooked In SOPA: Massive Expansion Of Copyright Maximalist Diplomatic Corp

from the regulatory-capture dept

Regulatory capture is defined pretty simply as:

In economics, regulatory capture occurs when a state regulatory agency created to act in the public interest instead advances the commercial or special interests that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.

As is noted, this is a form of economic failure, because it creates (sometimes massive) negative externalities, in terms of inefficiencies and costs to the public. While we’ve covered the many, many horrific parts of the E-PARASITE Act (since renamed SOPA), there are always more problems lurking. One section that has received almost no attention at all is the final section of the bill, Section 205.

The simplest way to describe this section is that it’s the creation of the entertainment industry’s own copyright police force within the diplomatic core. It’s pure regulatory capture. The entire section is about massively extending US bureaucracy, in the form of a diplomatic force of copyright maximalists, whose sole job it will be to travel the world and push for more and more draconian copyright enforcement in the interest of the US entertainment industry. It’s pretty scary just how blatant this kind of regulatory capture is. Nowhere in the bill does it talk about more effective copyright policy. Instead, it requires “aggressive support for enforcement action” throughout the world, in the interest of a few US companies. We already have IP attaches and the USTR going around the globe pushing the interests of Hollywood, against the interests of the public. Do we really want more of that?

This is a problem, especially considering just how much evidence there is that over-aggressive copyright enforcement and ever expansive copyright law has actually been quite harmful for culture. If the role were to support more effective copyright law, that would be sensible. But it’s not. Instead, it’s just creating a new bureaucratic role to send copyright maximalists around the globe, employed by the US government, but whose sole purpose would be to do the bidding of a few US companies.

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Comments on “Not To Be Overlooked In SOPA: Massive Expansion Of Copyright Maximalist Diplomatic Corp”

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Anonymous Coward says:

First the RIAA and other pro-copyright groups corrupted our diplomats so much that they’re doing the bidding of private corporations/individuals instead of serving the American people abroad.

Then they push for harsher penalties for violating copyrights and for making them even longer.

Than they decided that wasn’t enough, and want the entire Internet remade in their favor.

And now they want it written into law that the tax payers basically have to pay their lobbying bills for them if they’re using corrupted US government officials to push for their agenda in foreign countries.

Next they’ll be demanding a government bailout to make up for all their losses from piracy.

I think the RIAA & other pro copyright people are being short sighted by making it official that the tax payers pay for their corrupting government officials to do their lobbying in foreign countries for them. People in power change, what if someone like a Wyden wins the whitehouse and appoints likeminded poeple to the state department? Under current law the state department and their diplomats would just stop all lobbying for the RIAA/etc on copyright issues in foreign countries. Under the new law however, one opposed to draconian copyright laws could be free to use their job to lobby for tough copyright laws in foreign countries to lobby for weaker copyright laws.

After all, look at the new appointment in the Dodd/Frank bill that adds a department to look out for consumers instead of Wall Street, Wall Street is trying to corrupt that department by opposing the nomination of anyone who’s pro-consumer for that department. Wall Street knows you can corrupt any agency and get it to do the opposite of what it’s supposed to by getting the right people in charge.

gorehound (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes we the people do not want even more Government Waste and this is outrageous.The Press may have been overlooking SOPA,etc but there will be many who will flip to learn that the tax payers will be fronted the bill for these bozos.
Maybe then we will see a real boycott of all things MAFIAA.

Down with the blood leeches of RIAA & MPAA.
Hop Ya Die Wouldn’t Cry

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes we the people do not want even more Government Waste and this is outrageous.The Press may have been overlooking SOPA,etc but there will be many who will flip to learn that the tax payers will be fronted the bill for these bozos.
Maybe then we will see a real boycott of all things MAFIAA.

Down with the blood leeches of RIAA & MPAA.
Hop Ya Die Wouldn’t Cry

Why don’t you go back to just being a failed musician? Remarkably, you’re an even bigger failure as a piracy apologist.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Why don’t you go back to just being a failed musician? Remarkably, you’re an even bigger failure as a piracy apologist.

You know, for someone who positions himself as being an “insider” in the creation of this bill, I find it telling that you don’t even try to respond to the claims of massive regulatory capture within the bill, but instead just toss out random insults.

I’ll take that as confirmation that the folks who wrote the bill knew damn well that the goal was to hand over this part of the government to the legacy record labels and movie studios.

Ninja (profile) says:

And we thought it was bad...

And we thought it was bad when they started trying to force the cost of searching and processing copyright infringements on ISPs (like the TalkTalk case after MPA success in blocking Newzbin2 in the UK).

You say it’s inefficient, Pirate Mike, but it’s very reasonable, it takes the burden out of the entertainment industries and leaves them free to create more jobs instead of spending money on fighting infringement. It even creates jobs in the Govt! Mother Teresa of Calcutta would be proud of the MAFIAA! /acidic sarcasm

MrWilson says:

Re: And we thought it was bad...

And this is the problem – it does create jobs, jobs the sole purpose of which are to preserve and grow the wealth of rich people. These are not jobs born of consumer demand or economic growth of the nation. These are counterproductive jobs that just leech taxpayer money and will get eliminated just as easily as they’re created when the entertainment industry decides it doesn’t need them anymore.

xenomancer (profile) says:

Re: And we thought it was bad...

“it takes the burden out of the entertainment industries”

A burden that they (at those owning the copyrights) are supposed to bear as the justiciable persons pursuing reasonable (well, not anymore) compensation (or economic slavery) for contestable (if you have enough money) damages. As a corollary, the DOT is not responsible for the court costs involved in a traffic accident, and it would be incredibly short sighted for such a policy to exist as it would place the cost on the rest of the consumers (everyone).

“leaves them free to create more jobs”

What new jobs? Larger legal departments? If anything, they need to have less jobs for a little while so they can clear out the useless people they have now and make room for some people with an original idea. I think three full tries at a spiderman brand (ya, there was another one before the recent trilogy) is indicative of exactly how much they really value creativity and artistic talent (they don’t). In fact, the new movie is essentially an expanded version of the game Mirror’s Edge. If this is gonna be the next big seller, they are doomed (… still).

“very reasonable”


“instead of spending money on fighting infringement”

They will ALLWAYS be “fighting infringement”. Patting them on the head for burying it in sand will only push it in deeper.

“Mother Teresa of Calcutta would be proud”

Funny you should bring up someone who believed in and actively encouraged channeling divinity though the depths of prolonged suffering.

Now, please shill just a little bit harder next time so when we call the proctologist to find your head we can use the echoes to make the job a little easier.

Old Man in The Sea says:

Science Fiction and Reality - Doomed to follow it

Oh how many stories have I read from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s that dealt with the subject of business taking over governments for their own purposes and stifling the people.

We really do need the End of Days and the Glorious Return of The King to fix the fouled up mess we have made.

We have been warned for thousands of years that the bribery of government officials will destroy a nation. Well we see it destroying nations today. It is interesting to note that the only officially sanctioned (by law written by those who take the bribes) bribery is of our elected representatives. If they accept in the officially sanctioned mode then they can accept as much as they want without any legal repercussions.

Every time anyone suggests that this sanctioned bribery is removed they are shot down as being idiots.

What can really be done to remove this blight? Any suggestions anyone?

out_of_the_blue says:

NEXT, oil companies will have the US Army invade and occupy!

Oh, wait. Mike is just ten years behind the bleeding obvious, is all. I haven’t recently mentioned the ongoing merger of gov’t and corporations that overshadows his little notions about copyright. Mike is here just highlighting one tiny area of the world-wide corporatizing process, while neglecting vastly more important.

Anonymous Coward says:

It is nice to call it “regulatory capture”, but it just isn’t the case here.

Your suggestion seems to be that the public interest and the business interests cannot be advanced at the same time. Yet you offer little to really support this.

After all, if IP (of all sorts) is a major product of the US, don’t you think it is in the public’s interest that our high quality IP is promoted for legal sale the world around? Is it not in the public’s interest that American industry sells more around the world, so they can employ more people here in the US?

I think you are falling in the trap of looking at the narrowest of public interests (free stuff on the internet) and forgetting the larger, actual public interest (growing the tax base and the economy so we can live better).

You were already shot down bitching when you tried to say it was bad that embassies overseas were promoting American made products. Will you ever learn how this all really works?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

IP laws are a burden to society and parasitic long terms are even worst life + 95 years is no protection is social parasitism.

If growing tax was a priority people wouldn’t stop the little guys from using anything they would let everyone make money, not only some bastard that claims ownership on imaginary property that can’t and will never be protected.

another ac says:

Re: Re:

After all, if IP (of all sorts) is a major product of the US, don’t you think it is in the public’s interest that our high quality IP is promoted for legal sale the world around? Is it not in the public’s interest that American industry sells more around the world, so they can employ more people here in the US?

Not necessarily. You can waste more money on it home, than earn abroad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: t is nice to call it "regulatory capture", but it just isn't the case here.

Nope, sorry, that is one of those amazing areas where it all falls down.

See, all the people who were employed selling IP lost their jobs. They are now not making enough money to spend. So they can’t buy lunch, so the restaurant can’t afford to hire as much staff, so those people can’t afford to buy gas for their cars, and some of the gas stations cut back hours or close because of less sales, which in turn means more people without money to spend, and they can’t buy IP – so they just download it for free and stay home, not using gas, not eating out, and not paying for their IP.

The spiral goes down as well as up.

Anonymous Coward says:

In case you missed the response to the turd dropped by Lofgren and Issa:

Promote Jobs and Economic Growth: Protect Consumers and Our Troops – Support H.R. 3261
From: The Committee on the Judiciary
Sent By:
Bill: H.R. 3261
Date: 11/10/2011
Dear Colleagues,

We urge you to cosponsor bipartisan legislation that will modernize our criminal and civil statutes to meet new IP enforcement challenges and protect American investment and jobs. The Stop Online Piracy Act, H.R. 3261, will ensure that law enforcement and job creators have the tools they need to protect American intellectual property from rampant counterfeiting and piracy.

Criminals have harnessed the power of the Internet to establish ?rogue websites? that profit through the theft of U.S. intellectual property. Rogue websites run the gamut of Internet commerce. Some sell knockoffs of consumer products like shoes and handbags. Some offer illicit copies of America?s most creative software, music, movies, and books. And others peddle products that pose a clear and present danger to consumers, such as counterfeit pharmaceuticals and auto parts. Many of these sites look completely legitimate. They dupe unsuspecting consumers into purchasing shoddy products or downloading illegal pirated content and place consumers at risk of identity theft, credit card fraud and malware.

Rogue sites do not pay taxes, they do not adhere to manufacturing standards, they do not innovate, and they do not respect U.S. laws. They do steal American jobs, harm consumers, thwart the incentives that promote innovation and creativity, and undermine those engaged in legitimate Internet commerce.

For these reasons, businesses from virtually every sector of the economy have joined forces with organized labor to support H.R. 3261.

H.R. 3261 recognizes that U.S. law enforcement is powerless to reach many rogue websites that target American consumers but operate from safe-haven countries like China and Russia. We can?t count on countries that are seeking their own economic advantage and don?t share our tradition and respect for intellectual property rights to step up enforcement and shut down these rogue operations to protect our interests. But that doesn?t mean we can stand idly by and ignore the damage being wrought by these criminals. We must engage and provide law enforcement and owners of intellectual property with effective remedies to better protect our citizens, preserve our markets and promote investment in new creations and innovations by cutting off access and support to rogue websites.

H.R. 3261 provides the following tools to advance these goals (while ensuring the same due process protections used in all U.S. district court proceedings.):

? U.S. Department of Justice action — under H.R. 3261, the Attorney General can file an action against a foreign rogue site in federal court. The DOJ must prove that a site is used to commit or facilitate the commission of criminal copyright or counterfeiting violations punishable under U.S. law. If the court finds that a site is rogue, the court may order Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and search engines not to link or connect users to the rogue site. The court can also require payment processors and online advertising networks to cut off the flow of money to the rogue site. Each of these intermediaries receives liability protection for complying with the court?s order and are only required to undertake measures against rogue sites that are technically feasible and reasonable.

? Market-based action ? H.R. 3261 also sets out a new private resolution process that encourages out-of-court solutions as the preferred means to efficiently and effectively protect against the enormous losses that result from rogue websites. This section of the bill relates only to financial intermediaries. The bill authorizes a judicial action for injunctive relief only (no money damages) against the rogue website only after a right-holder has exhausted the market-based notification process. Under no circumstances does the bill permit a right-holder to sue an intermediary and intermediaries are held harmless when they take action in response to a notification or court order and even when they conclude that they should not suspend services based upon the notification.

? H.R. 3261 also addresses other critical intellectual property issues that relate to national security, public health and safety, and the expansion of respect for intellectual property abroad.

? Foreign and economic espionage — H.R. 3261 recognizes that theft of U.S. trade secret information by foreign entities poses a serious threat to the American economy by increasing criminal penalties and fines for individuals and organizations convicted of foreign or economic espionage.

? Trafficking in counterfeit military goods — H.R. 3261 creates a strong deterrent to those who knowingly risk the lives of members of our armed forces and law enforcement by significantly increasing criminal penalties on those who knowingly traffic in counterfeit military goods or goods sold to law enforcement.

? Trafficking in counterfeit drugs — H.R. 3261 increases criminal penalties on those who traffic in counterfeit drugs.

? Intellectual property attach? program ? H.R. 3261 expands the U.S. IP attach? program and U.S. government IP training and capacity building programs and realigns their mission to align with priorities identified in the annual Special 301 report.

To join the bipartisan list of cosponsors of H.R. 3261, please contact Olivia Lee at


Lamar Smith
Committee on the Judiciary

John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary

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