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, 13 Feb 2010 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Change we can believe in.

    Well, I guess I'm in a mood to feed the trolls today...

    The criticisms here of Barack Obama, i.e.that he has failed to bring the change he promised, seem off the mark to me.
    Obama campaigned to promote an open internet; to encourage diversity of media ownership; to safeguard the right to privacy; and to open up IP departments (e.g. patent offices) to the public. All of the examples you just blockquoted are 100% in the opposite direction. http://www.barackobama.com/issues/technology/index_campaign.php

    Where he does come down on the side of the RIAA and MPAA is on counterfeiting. But counterfeiting is completely different than filesharing, and conflating the two is disingenuous and insulting.

    For about an unfettered decade the intent of privacy law has been demeaned to conceal rampant illegal online activity of all kinds,
    Privacy laws have been around for a lot longer than an "unfettered decade," whatever that is. The "if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide" argument has been around for centuries, and there's a reason it's considered an excuse for totalitarianism.
    and rights holders have struggled trying to protect their rightful intellectual property ownership
    Nobody has a "right" to intellectual property, because IP is not really "property." Ideas belongs to everyone equally, and it is the IP owners who are denying "ownership." The only reason IP laws exist is to provide an incentive to produce works, for the exclusive purpose of growing the public domain. That incentive is given by the public, and may be taken away by the public; it is not a "right" like free speech is a "right."

    This is not just my opinion; it is the opinion of Thomas Jefferson, the former patent officer who wrote the Constitutional article that you are demeaning.

    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.
    It's not a matter of being "forced" to adapt. As far as I know, nobody in government has ever arrested copyright holders for not adapting enough. You can adapt, and maybe succeed; or you can not adapt, and likely fail.

    Every technological innovation (VCR's, cassettes, radio, etc) has been viewed by copyright conglomerates as a "relatively new form and entirely new scale" of "theft." Until they realized that this "theft" is really just another opportunity for promotion or profit.

    If government officials are using the word "theft" (and many aren't), they're using it wrong.

    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.
    Nice straw man you've built there, buddy. All Mike's ever done is point out that the market has changed, so "price-for-value" has changed as well.

    But let's turn this around: You're defending the notion that the government must take away the public's rights, at the behest of a financial cabal, to defend "rights" that cabal didn't have in the first place. Who, exactly, is inhabiting a "radical fringe of belief?"

    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.
    Completely ignoring that the fact that for decades, the majority of people got their music and TV for free, and the MPAA and RIAA still made obscene profits. Or that the "real world costs" are shouldered (in the case of music) by the artists, not the copyright holders. Or that these costs are decreasing exponentially because of technology. Or that despite your worries, more "entertainment" is being produced now than ever in the history of mankind. (I won't comment on "quality," since that's a separate argument - but if you really did value quality, you probably wouldn't call it mere "entertainment.")

    I don't think the majority actually believes what you think. But perhaps they're just not "sensible" to you.

    Digital product won't be "free" forever just because current conditions facilitate infringement.
    Well, the entire purpose of the Internet is to facilitate the free exchange of data in a decentralized manner. So these "conditions" will be current until we get rid of the Internet. That's not going to happen soon, and do you really think it should?
    I have mixed feelings about Obama
    If there is one thing I agree with you about, it's that you can't pin this all on Obama. Mostly it's Biden (he has a long history of being anti-democracy in regards to technology). But this is one issue where Democrats and Republicans are both in the back pockets of rich but outdated corporations.


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