ACLU Tells Congress: Do Not Add Copyright Trolling Bill To Government Funding Bill

from the this-is-not-a-bill-to-sneak-through dept

Last week we wrote about an effort in Congress, which appeared to be succeeding, to try to sneak through a controversial (and likely unconstitutional) copyright reform bill by adding it to a must-pass government funding bill. The ACLU has now stepped into explain why this a bad idea and should not move forward:

The American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of its more than three million members, supporters, and activists, writes to you today regarding recently reported efforts to include S. 1273/H.R. 2426, the CASE Act in upcoming legislation to fund the government. The CASE Act is a controversial provision that would significantly alter the enforcement of copyright law and would have the unintended consequence of undermining free expression online. Because we recognize that it is essential to fund the federal government, particularly during the ongoing public health crisis, we ask that you decline to include the CASE Act in the upcoming funding bill and instead allow that provision to proceed through regular order where Members will have an opportunity to address the significant concerns raised by the bill before it passes into law.

Many supporters of the bill insist that those of us opposing it are against the idea of helping copyright owners, but nothing is further from the truth. What we oppose is the method set up in this bill, which will enable much more copyright trolling in a manner likely to stifle free speech. As the ACLU notes:

As we have said before, we do not oppose the CASE Act?s central idea of creating a small claims process to allow copyright owners to assert infringement and be awarded damages for the harm caused. There is evidence that strongly suggests a need for such a system, as many copyright holders have argued. However, because the CASE Act could affect every person that communicates online, we believe that changes are needed to ensure adequate safeguards for due process and the protection of the freedom of speech. In particular, the bill should be amended to provide for access to meaningful judicial review, a reduction in the damages available for small claims violations, and additional safeguards to ensure the process is procedurally fair for both parties. In order for those essential changes to be made, we ask that you decline to include this bill in any must-pass government funding bill, and instead allow the CASE Act to be considered through the regular order process where Members will have the opportunity to address these concerns.

What’s been most upsetting and annoying throughout the process of the debate on this bill is the utter unwillingness of the bill’s supporters to engage with people who have pointed out these fundamental problems with the bill. If they actually did engage and fix the problems in the bill, it would likely gain much more support across the board. Instead, they continue to try to shove it through in this form, using sneaky processes like adding it to the government funding bill.

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Comments on “ACLU Tells Congress: Do Not Add Copyright Trolling Bill To Government Funding Bill”

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26 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Supporters

A display of bipartisanship from the leadership.

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Anonymous Coward says:

SO, you're FOR helping copyright owners?

Many supporters of the bill insist that those of us opposing it are against the idea of helping copyright owners, but nothing is further from the truth.

Of course not. This is Techdirt, PRIATE CENTRAL, which has for 20 years run every story it can find attacking copyright.

At most you’re for "the idea of helping copyright owners", without any practical effect.

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Anonymous Coward says:

A moral versus practical stance is all you've ever stated.

After YEARS of "antidirt" nagging you, here is what state is your FINAL answer on copyright:

Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 11th, 2012 @ 12:45am

["antidirt"]: I will answer all of your questions to the absolute best of my abilities, but please first answer mine: Why is piracy not OK? Simple, direct question deserves a simple, direct answer. Thanks.

[Masnick]: It’s not okay because I don’t think it’s okay. You’re asking a moral question. There is no answer to a moral question other than "that’s what I believe." I don’t think it’s right to ignore the wishes of a content creator. But that, of course, is entirely separate from what that content creator can do to deal with the fact that many (perhaps most) others have a different moral view on the issue.

Arguing over morals is a waste of time, because it doesn’t move the discussion forward.

That’s why I don’t focus on moral questions, but practical questions. You, apparently, prefer not to do that sort of thing. It makes for silly grandstanding, but nothing useful.

http://www.techdirt.com/blog/innovation/articles/20120810/02111919983/entrepreneurs-vcs-tell-white-house-to-focus-innovation-rather-than-ip-enforcement.shtml#c986

Yeah, criminals have "a different moral view". And Maz refuses to condemn pirates, period.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A moral versus practical stance is all you've ever stated.

You really need to be taking your anti-psychotic meds, buddy.

You still don’t get it that Techdirt users actively are aware you’re trolling every single story and are using the flag button to mark you as spam the moment you comment.

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Anonymous Coward says:

SO, yes, you're for "the idea of helping copyright owners"...

…so long as is no practical means for them to enforce their RIGHT.

Clever word trick to insert "the idea", Maz, but I KNOW how you dodge and weave, reverse like a snake, and can never be pinned down on the topic of copyright.

If are any new readers, just search for "Mike supports copyright", back when he and his fanboys pretended. You will not find any slight support for copyright from Maz / Techdirt these days.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Does Maz actually support copyright? Here's his gooey position:

I think that the current system is broken and does not promote the progress, as it should do. I think that I don’t know what the proper solution is, and I don’t think anyone does, because we simply don’t have enough data or experience to know. We know what doesn’t work, but we don’t know what might work better. That’s why I’ve always encouraged more exploration and the ability to experiment.

Yes, that SOUNDS reasonable, but he next ADMITS:

This will upset you, of course, because it’s not a hard and fast position of "copyright must be x."

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130121/14473121743/global-hackathons-prepared-to-carry-forward-work-aaron-swartz.shtml#c377

He’s free to change any time suits his purpose.

Maz is flexible. But LAW must be precisely specified so known in advance: therefore Masnick is actually LAWLESS on this topic, CANNOT claim to "support copyright", and is only honest in that doesn’t.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Anyhoo, CASE is good for creative people, NOT pirates.

Oddly enough, that’s it’s purpose. Congress doesn’t take much note of, er, "priates", NOR fall the ACLU’s crap about "free speech".

We also all know that Maz does NOT "support copyright" that’s just his ongoing cover to attack it.

Easily proven: can any of you fanboys even bring yourself to affirm this: "Mike supports copyright". Just copy and paste it. Bet ya can’t. And of course if DO then I can point and hoot because it’s SO obviously false. You can’t find a single piece where Maz does anything but attack any enforcement to copyright, it’s just "a moral question", NOT practical LAW.

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crade (profile) says:

"Many supporters of the bill insist that those of us opposing it are against the idea of helping copyright owners"

I wouldn’t give such insistence too much weight,
If they really felt they had any legitimate arguments to support the bill they touting those merits to try to pass it not trying to force it through as a rider

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'You oppose me, that means you WANT people to be robbed!'

Many supporters of the bill insist that those of us opposing it are against the idea of helping copyright owners, but nothing is further from the truth.

Ah good old projection and poisoning the well. ‘If you object to me then clearly you hate creators’ has been the go-to for dishonest parasites like that from the start as far as I know, a quick and easy way to deflect and avoid having to defend their arguments/claims/bills on the merits(which would be difficult as more often than not they don’t have any) and instead put the other side on the defensive with the focus on them. It’s a grossly dishonest tactic that’s blatantly obvious, but unfortunately a very effective one because people are hesitant to call them out on their bullshit when they make use of it.

If that’s the way they want to go though seems only fair to return the favor, and as such I say that anyone supporting the CASE act and similar bills are doing so because they want people to be sued, potentially into bankruptcy, for activity involving no measurable harm and that people engage in without a thought on a regular basis. Of the two strawman it would seem that ‘starving and homeless because you shared a song/picture’ is a hell of a lot worse than ‘creators won’t have an additional way to go after people for infringement’.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: 'You oppose me, that means you WANT people to be robbed!'

"Ah good old projection and poisoning the well. ‘If you object to me then clearly you hate creators’ has been the go-to for dishonest parasites like that from the start as far as I know…"

And in particular for Baghdad Bob/Bobmail who has been running that crappy rhetoric ever since he got schooled on torrentfreak about how it’s not the fault of Pirates that he can’t translate a mailing list of some kind into cold hard cash.

We’re talking about a moron who ten years or more ago had his cheap con crushed by reality, found the scapegoat called "piracy" to explain away his inability to be a Winner In Life, and now spends most of his time letting his Dunning-Kruger present his conspiracy theories to any audience not actively throwing him out.

Anonymous Coward says:

So, where does members of Congress get their greatest amount of campaign contributions, aclu or elsewhere? Exactly! From elsewhere! So that’s what will be given the greatest notice! It wont matter on the damage that will be done as long as the politicians get funded and the public get fucked, while aiding the entertainment industries! Lets face it, tgese industries run the country and will soon tun the internet, given that their every whim is catered for!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s correct to an extent, however if it looks like something is going to cause enough public backlash that it might threaten their re-election chances they can(though it doesn’t always work) be convinced to back down because all that ‘donation’ money doesn’t do them much good if they aren’t electable, and if they make themselves too toxic then their ‘donors’ are likely to start funding someone else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Election chances

it might threaten their re-election chances

Of course, almost all of these people just got re-elected last month. Including, for instance, Georgia’s Hank Johnson. He just got re-elected last November.

… their ‘donors’ are likely to start funding someone else.

Representative Johnson’s donors seem delighted with the work he’s doing.

Our Hero on the Hill: Hank Johnson

[Interviewer]: You represent a district in Atlanta, Georgia. Georgia is the third largest production center for movies and television shows in the United States. Can you tell our readers why the work that you do on the Judiciary Committee is so important for the jobs that the industry supports in Georgia?

[Representative Hank Johnson]: I am proud of the vibrant and diverse entertainment community in Georgia. The Committee’s work in upholding an effective copyright system helps ensure that these Georgians’ hard work is rewarded fairly and not stolen . . .

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