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
    Karl, 14 Feb 2010 @ 5:59pm

    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.

    You're welcome, and we'll see.

    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.

    Well, according to Jefferson, those are in fact ideas. If we were to follow his line of thought, then I would have an absolute right to make an exact replica of an existing car. That right is (in theory) temporarily traded for the sake of the public good. Think of it this way: copyright is theft from the public domain. We tolerate that theft to encourage the production of more works. THAT is the U.S. Constitution's INTENT.

    If your quotes proved anything, they would just prove that judges in the meantime have disagreed with that intent. But if you read them carefully, they do not. "X is the best method to promote Y" is not the same as "X is a right." It's closer to saying "Y is a right." Here, X = copyrights, Y = public domain.

    That's why copyrights originally expired after 14 years (which I think is more than fair), whereas the other Constitutional rights do not expire at all. Incidentally, I find it very interesting that copyrights now last much longer than patents or trademarks, despite the fact that copyrights steal from the public domain and the others mostly do not.

    Also, not to be a grammar Nazi, but you really should learn the difference between "ideas" and "idea's."

    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.

    You're kidding, right? Since we're throwing quotes around, here's a couple:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated[...]
    - from the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights
    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
    - the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (emphasis mine)

    By your line of reasoning, there are no rights anywhere in the Constitution, because they can all be taken away by incarceration.

    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.

    Radio and television transmit copyrighted material to users who do not pay money for it. Advertising is a business model to monetize what they are "giving away" for free. It is not a "price" because there is no obligation to pay attention to ads - if you turn off your radio or TV while they're on, you still won't be "stealing" anything.

    I'm just pointing out that users getting content free of charge is not incompatible with massive profits for content creators. If anyone is being dishonest, it would be someone who claims that listening to the radio is "stealing." And yes, before content creators figured out this leads to more profits, they were making exactly that claim. Just as you are now.

    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?

    I was pointing out that the Internet, by design, will always "facilitate infringement." It's a matter of practicality, not of morality. As long as it exists, "digital product will be 'free' forever" (your words, not mine).

    Who would argue that the highway system, for instance, shouldn’t be subject to regulation?

    "Regulating" the Internet is no different than warrantless wiretapping. Even on the highway, a policeman can't search your car without probable cause.

    Where’s the sense that laws protect rights and products in the real world but those same laws shouldn’t apply to digital products?

    I'll just point you to the FSF for the answer to that. (Hopefully you're not one of those fringe types who believes that the FSF is outside of the mainstream.)

    There’s no difference to the creator or the end result between filesharing and counterfeiting

    Seriously? You believe this? That peer-to-peer filesharing is no different, legally or ethically, than committing fraud for profit?

    Morally speaking, there is nothing wrong with getting something for free if you're not depriving someone else of it. The only problem might be if content creators don't get paid because of it. Nearly every study that's been conducted by an unbiased party suggests that this isn't the case.

    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.

    To assume that there will be some reversal of fundamental rights granted to citizens merely because some failing businesses grew up with a sense of entitlement is contrary to reason, precedent, and common sense.

    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.

    Here's my problem: the direction that "law enforcement" is going is to require private industries to conduct unreasonable searches and seizures without a warrant, and to work against the common good by stealing permanently from the public domain. So, I'll work tooth and nail to prevent those laws from being made, and repeal the ones that exist.

    And I won't be turning my friends in for making mixtapes any time soon.

    As an aside: the same laws that would protect your interests are exactly the ones that would make independent promotion impossible. As an independent musician (or "musician"), I find this incredibly frustrating, and the notion that's it's being done to protect people like me is simply offensive.


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