We recently covered the White House's recommendations
for new IP enforcement laws, which all too frequently went way too far -- such as in trying to make streaming a felony and in allowing the feds to get wiretaps for copyright infringement cases. Thankfully, some folks are speaking up about this. The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), who has a history of standing up for consumer rights and against censorship, has responded harshly to Victoria Espinel's plan, noting that it's nothing more than a "Patriot Act for Hollywood."
The government has shown how its zeal leads to carelessness in its unprecedented efforts to widely seize domain names for IP enforcement, which ICE undertook this year. Sites were wrongfully shut down based on allegations the user was engaged in criminal conduct deemed lawful by their courts. We are concerned the same low threshold will be used in making decisions to spy on U.S. citizens.
Some in Congress and the White House have apparently decided that no price is too high to pay to kowtow to Big Content's every desire, including curtailing civil liberties by expanding wiretapping of electronic communications. Even the controversial USA PATRIOT Act exists because of extraordinary national security circumstances involving an attack on our country. Does Hollywood deserve its own PATRIOT Act?
Furthermore, the CCIA points out that there are serious issues around this that it makes sense to focus on -- such as counterfeit drugs and counterfeit military hardware -- but this plan clearly goes beyond those real
problems. Basically, the CCIA warns that these important ideas have been co-opted by Hollywood to shove through its own agenda:
The legitimate desire to address some serious counterfeiting abuses -- such as medications or industrial components used in defense products -- has been hijacked to create draconian proposals to alleviate the content industry of the burden of protecting its own interest using its own extensive resources. The government's role in protecting the public's right to safe medicine and component parts should not be allowed to morph into supplanting the responsibility of private companies to use existing legal remedies to remove possibly infringing content online and bring legal action against those involved.
Indeed. Of course, doing things like this is nothing new for the entertainment industry, which has a long history of lumping together totally unrelated things in order to get protectionist and anti-consumer laws passed. It's too bad the White House is now appearing to be complicit in such deceptions.