Entertainment Industry Get Their Own 'Piracy Police' In The Justice Department

from the thank-you,-joe-biden dept

Remember back in December when Vice President Joe Biden hosted a one-sided "piracy summit", ridiculously declaring that "all of the stakeholders" were present (despite there not being a single representative from the technology industry, nor anyone representing consumer interests or ISPs). The "stakeholders" were entirely the entertainment industry. And, even better, despite promises of openness and transparency, the press was kicked out so top execs from most of the major entertainment industry companies could collude talk directly with many of the top administration officials, including Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and others. You knew that this wasn't just a random meet and greet and that something would come out of it.

And, indeed, less than two months later, we have Eric Holder announcing a special "IP task force" within the Justice Department designed to take on "the rise in intellectual property crime." Given how many former RIAA/MPAA lawyers ended up at the Justice Department, perhaps this is no surprise. But given that it now appears that the entertainment industry was able to create their own private enforcement division within the Justice Department without a single ounce of public discussion or transparency, and no input from those concerned about consumer rights or technology innovation, shouldn't someone be asking why the Justice Department is now functioning as a private police force to prop up the business models of a group of companies who refuse to adapt, even as plenty of upstarts have figured out how to make new business models work?

Filed Under: copyright cops, eric holder, joe biden, justice deparatment


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  1. identicon
    Sam I Am, 14 Feb 2010 @ 7:27am

    re: Change we can believe in

    Thanks for your answer at #76, Karl, but there is much you have factually incorrect and so your conclusions are faulty. Consider this:

    You said “Nobody has a "right" to intellectual property, because IP is not really "property." Ideas belongs to everyone equally.”

    First, it’s true that ideas belong to everyone and they should. The “idea” to make music recordings or a car is not subject to copyright or patent protection and I do not argue that they should be. You can make your music and your version of a car the moment you wish, and take your chances in the marketplace. But an exact replica of an existing car? Or an exact copy of a music cd? Those are not “idea’s”, Karl, those are protectable product’s, and it was the US Constitutions INTENT to provide for their protection, specifically as a RIGHT. Your statement “nobody as a right to IP” is simply factually and historically wrong.

    Art 2 Sec 8 says “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries”

    As far back as in the Federalist, James Madison said “Rewarding authors for their creative labor and “promot[ing] … Progress” are thus complementary; in copyright “[t]he public good fully coincides … with the claims of individuals.” The Federalist No. 43, p. 272”

    And as recently as 2003, Justice Ginsburg, joined by six other members of the Supreme Court, said in footnote 18 of Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186 (2003) about this very subject:
    “the reward to the author as “a secondary consideration” of copyright law understates the relationship between such rewards and the “Progress of Science.” in fact, “[t]he economic philosophy behind the [Copyright] [C]lause … is the conviction that encouragement of individual effort by personal gain is the best way to advance public welfare through the talents of authors and inventors.”

    Karl, “Limited times” is a worthy discussion, whether it be 2 weeks, 200 years or forever minus a day, all are clearly “limited.” But “the exclusive right” are the words they chose to use, it’s not debatable, it’s not described as a mercantile privilege but rather and very specifically as a “right.” Contrast that with the fact that there is no unalienable RIGHT to freedom or privacy anywhere in the constitution, indeed, these are suspendible privileges, were they genuine rights incarceration wouldn't be constitutional. And today we (the law and the courts) regard software writings and book and music writings (and so on) under the same canopy as “writings and discoveries.” And that interpretation, I think, is correct. So you just have this wrong.

    You also said “the majority of people got their music and TV for free” and this is such an intellectual dishonestly it damages your own credibility here. The “price for value” exchange is codified in attention and time to advertising and no more needs to be said except that you’ll have to do better than this.

    Finally, you said “the entire purpose of the Internet is to facilitate the free exchange of data in a decentralized manner” and that’s true but to a point. It’s all subject to the law, right? As in all civilized societies, that’s all within legal restriction. Who would argue that the highway system, for instance, shouldn’t be subject to regulation? Where’s the sense that laws protect rights and products in the real world but those same laws shouldn’t apply to digital products? The formats change but the principles never do. There’s no difference to the creator or the end result between filesharing and counterfeiting; in both cases unlawful copies are made, unlawful distribution occurs and you get something you wanted without paying correctly for it. That’s EXACTLY why the ACTA is worded as it is. In practical terms, there is no difference.

    The situation is this, Karl, copyright exists, it is a fundamental feature of the constitution. Judges and legislators exist to uphold the law and aid in the faithful execution of the letter and the intent of the constitution. It is their sworn duty to pass laws and enact rulings to protect copyright. If you own the copyright you may distribute in any manner you choose for any price you choose, but those rights are exclusively your own and legislators are bound by law to defend those rights. You are free NOT to purchase if you dislike the content, the manner of distribution, or the price. You are not free to pilfer it for your own use.

    To assume that there will be some reversal of these protections granted to authors merely because some internet kids grew up with a sense of entitlement to the works of others without paying is contrary to reason, precedent, and common sense. And on a global basis, these same concepts are codified in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, ARTICLE 27... Section (2) “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests (emphasis mine) resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.”
    Learn the law, Karl, live under it properly or take your chances with your civil disobedience as law enforcement on the internet inevitably grows to meet these legal challenges. Or work to change the laws you don’t believe in. But mostly, just learn your history and get your facts straight.

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