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?

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  1. identicon
    Sam I Am, 13 Feb 2010 @ 2:31am

    Change we can believe in.

    The criticisms here of Barack Obama, i.e.that he has failed to bring the change he promised, seem off the mark to me. He's brought experienced copyright lawyers with RIAA training and affiliation into the justice department and now is stewarding this IP task force to deal with the current ransacking of intellectual property. He campaigned on a promise to work with the world at large to deal with this issue and he's doing it, domestically as well as internationally with our involvement in the ACTA.

    For about an unfettered decade the intent of privacy law has been demeaned to conceal rampant illegal online activity of all kinds, and rights holders have struggled trying to protect their rightful intellectual property ownership within the context of old, outdated law and profoundly falling revenue from a customer base who once purchased in analog and now infringes in digital.

    Industry must adapt to shifts in product format, true, but no business should be forced to adapt to a relatively new form and entirely new scale of digital theft, "theft" being the term used by the Justice Department and courts and governments the world over.

    Mike's readers inhabit the leading radical fringe of belief that digital rights holders must simply surrender their work to this free for all, and relinquish a price-for-value marketplace no less fair but more difficult to enforce in the digital domain. I disagree.

    Moreover, the sensible majority still sees no valid reason why a new format should destroy price because mere copies are virtually free, ignoring the real world costs associated with creating one of the finest catalogs of entertainment the world has ever known. That entire belief system is based within hypocrisy.

    Digital product won't be "free" forever just because current conditions facilitate infringement. Obama and his Justice department have been on the job only a year with several other crucial initiatives and yet he's still getting this done. Criminal convictions and online accountability grow daily now, and a civilized society relies upon accountability. The digital world can be no different.

    I have mixed feelings about Obama but for rights holders, this is a long-awaited, long overdue "change we can believe in."

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