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Are Entertainment Industry Profits More Important Than Civil Rights?

from the questions-worth-asking dept

Fzzr points us to Rick Falkvinge's recent writeup explaining why the argument that newer, more draconian copyright laws need to be passed to protect the profits of the legacy industry players is no excuse for trampling on civil rights. He compares the situation to Blackwater in Iraq:
When Blackwater Security was playing Grand Theft Auto among civilians in Iraq in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks, with which Iraq had nothing to do, how would you react if they had issued the following statement?

– “Our profits are being hampered by the civilians’ rights. It is not fair. In all fairness, we demand that torture should be allowed preemptively to find suspects or people that we find interesting, or because it can boost our profit. Also, we demand the right to detain civilians at will and indefinitely, because we could charge Uncle Sam for that too, boosting our profits even further.”

How would you react to that?

Let’s take another scenario from Blackwater in Iraq:

– “Our profits are being hampered by the rights of the people. It is not fair. Our profits are falling. In all fairness, we demand the introduction of wanton censorship, allowing us to discover and prevent people from talking about subjects we don’t like. Also, we demand to hold messengers responsible to some amount of punishment we determine if they carry sealed letters containing something we don’t like. That way, our profits could perhaps be restored to their former glory. After all, it’s only fair.”
And then he notes that this is, effectively, what the copyright industry is doing.

Of course, I already know the responses. The first will be that infringement is not a civil right. And, the second is that comparing the copyright players to Blackwater is unfair and a low blow. And both of those points may be true, but are not addressing the key point. The problem with these new laws being passed are not that they're designed to stop infringement, but that they're stopping all sorts of legitimate forms of speech as well. And that is something to be seriously concerned about. And, yes, it is all in the name of trying to keep profits up for some legacy players, even as those players resist every attempt to adapt to a changing market.

Filed Under: civil rights, entertainment industry, profits

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  1. icon
    G Thompson (profile), 13 Sep 2011 @ 9:42pm

    This quote by RAH in 1939 pops up every so often, even I have posted it once before, but it needs to be placed into 30mile high glowing letters that can be seen on the moon as far as I am concerned

    "There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped or turned back, for their private benefit."
    -- Robert A. Heinlein, Life Line, 1939

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