If They Can't Pass SOPA… Senators Ask FTC To Magically Stop Foreign Software Infringement

from the say-what-now? dept

Having failed to pass SOPA, Congress is apparently looking for other ways to keep the big copyright players happy. The latest is a letter sent by 16 senators to the FTC urging the commission to “protect American manufacturers” by cracking down on the fact that foreign companies often use unauthorized software:

“This unfairness harms the affected companies and their employees, as well as consumers and the broader economy,” the senators wrote. “It also stifles innovation by forcing law-abiding American businesses — large and small — to compete against those businesses that reduce their operating costs through the use of pirated IT.”

Except that much of that is misleading. First of all, it’s unclear that the companies in question would have bought the software otherwise, so arguing that it impacts the software companies isn’t necessarily true. It is true that US companies have to compete against those other companies, but is the cost of the software they’re using really the difference maker here? Besides, for all types of software there is growing competition from open source alternatives. If US companies want to compete, why not adopt more open source alternatives?

Also, what exactly do these Senators think the FTC can do here? The FTC has no jurisdiction over foreign companies and how they operate at home. Finally, even if the FTC could magically stop these companies from using unauthorized software, the end result is likely that those companies would simply shift to alternatives, such as open source software themselves.

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Comments on “If They Can't Pass SOPA… Senators Ask FTC To Magically Stop Foreign Software Infringement”

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36 Comments
Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 They can barely use their Blackberries

tell me, good sir, where is this mystical land you hail from?

honestly, all my schooling taught me was that the administrators are corrupt or incompetent, the educators overworked, and that my luck is just Weird. (watch me take absolutely no action to in any way cover my misdeeds, and get off scott-free, minimum. watch me suffer significant penalties (in the scale of ‘stuff the school can do without involving your parents’ or, occasionally, when that was unavoidable, ‘stuff the school can do without involving the law or the creation of any records’) for things i had nothing to do with or was the victim of. wheee… (seriously, i had POLICE showing up at my house because i was SICK and the school refused to do anything to allow me to continue my studies while dealing with health issues, instead choosing to add extra financial burdens and waste everyone’s time (including the already overworked Doctor)… it was a long and stupid chain of events.))

schools that actually teach the students how to think are few and far between… and here abouts, at least, a lot of them have completely lost the ability to even teach Facts and Skills because they prefer to ‘teach the students how to think’ by…. not teaching them anything. (seriously, ‘teaching the student how to think’ meant ‘give them research projects and essays without ever teaching how to actually do research, or write essays, or allowing for the fact that you assigned a topic neither the school nor public libraries had any information on. good job.)

grrr, rant rant rant.

anyway, yeah, point is, a school that teaches you how to think is a rare thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: They can barely use their Blackberries

No, there’s not but the FTC can certainly throw it’s weight around at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, World Trade Organization and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in an effort to get countries to enforce their existing laws and trade agreements related to infringing websites. In the face of economic sanctions (or incentives) most nations will gladly throw an infringing website under the bus. It’s not like these guys are doing much for the local economy, why would, say Belize, risk sanctions or forgo incentives to protect the local Megaupload?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: They can barely use their Blackberries

“in an effort to get countries to enforce their existing laws and trade agreements”

If they’re violating existing agreements, why does the FTC specifically have to get involved? What if the countries most used to infringe aren’t a part of any of those organisations and/or are not bound to any agreements? What if the sites involved are perfectly legal in their home countries and shouldn’t be held accountable to foreign laws?

Oh, sorry, I forgot it’s an AC. You want to try and force other countries to change their own laws to please your corporate lords and an easy scapegoat who you can point to when this inevitably fails, instead of actually adapting. Nothing to see here, then…

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: They can barely use their Blackberries

bahahahahahahahahaha

Oh you’re serious..

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

I want you to look at the US Economy,
Then at the Asian, Oceanic, Brazilian, and Chinese Economy.
Back to yours

Notice the difference.

yes they have one that is actually in positive movement

The only sway the FTC has over any other countries trade and/or Economy now is to make that other country laugh hysterically.

A Guy (profile) says:

This does seem like a good way to speed the transition to open source software in the targeted companies.

Why deal with the bureaucracy of proving to the FTC you don’t infringe a software patent or license when you could just avoid the whole mess by adopting linux/libreoffice?

Why deal with the US when doing business at all?

I suppose industrial control systems are still proprietary enough to be targetable, but that’s about it.

nasch (profile) says:

The real victims

Finally, even if the FTC could magically stop these companies from using unauthorized software, the end result is likely that those companies would simply shift to alternatives, such as open source software themselves.

It’s true, there is a real victim of software piracy, and it’s open source software. In the imaginary world where software piracy is impossible, I’m sure software sales would be up a bit, and open source software use would be up massively.

Anonymous Coward says:

Regardless of whether they would have BOUGHT the software they are still obtaining the benefit of USING the software. This gives the companies pirating software a competitive advantage over domestic companies who PAID for the software – the advantage being a larger balance sheet. It’s not just about revenue for the content creator it’s about establishing a fair field of play for commerce.

A Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

LOL

A fair field of play in commerce?

I’ll give you a hint. Start with companies like Bank of America and work your way out from there. If you think rampant software piracy is the biggest institutional threat to the American taxpayer and the American economy, I have a bank to sell you.
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/bank-of-america-too-crooked-to-fail-20120314

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This gives the companies pirating software a competitive advantage over domestic companies who PAID for the software – the advantage being a larger balance sheet.

This isn’t even close to right. Companies using pirated software have no advantage over companies using equivalent free software. So the advantage is there, pirated software or not, to anyone who wants to take advantage of it.

PopeRatzo (profile) says:

The Sh$t List

“The senators who signed the letter are Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), David Vitter (R-La.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.).”

These are the ones we throw out of office first.

Who’s with me? I don’t see one name I would miss.

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