If They Can't Pass SOPA... Senators Ask FTC To Magically Stop Foreign Software Infringement

from the say-what-now? dept

Having failed to pass SOPA, Congress is apparently looking for other ways to keep the big copyright players happy. The latest is a letter sent by 16 senators to the FTC urging the commission to "protect American manufacturers" by cracking down on the fact that foreign companies often use unauthorized software:
"This unfairness harms the affected companies and their employees, as well as consumers and the broader economy," the senators wrote. "It also stifles innovation by forcing law-abiding American businesses — large and small — to compete against those businesses that reduce their operating costs through the use of pirated IT."
Except that much of that is misleading. First of all, it's unclear that the companies in question would have bought the software otherwise, so arguing that it impacts the software companies isn't necessarily true. It is true that US companies have to compete against those other companies, but is the cost of the software they're using really the difference maker here? Besides, for all types of software there is growing competition from open source alternatives. If US companies want to compete, why not adopt more open source alternatives?

Also, what exactly do these Senators think the FTC can do here? The FTC has no jurisdiction over foreign companies and how they operate at home. Finally, even if the FTC could magically stop these companies from using unauthorized software, the end result is likely that those companies would simply shift to alternatives, such as open source software themselves.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 12:20pm

    They can barely use their Blackberries

    Do you REALLY think they understand that there's no magic "stop software infringement" button?

     

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  2.  
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    Traveller800 (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 12:24pm

    You forget, Mike. If there is anything SOPA proved is that many people in congress have a lower IQ then a half-brick and live in the magical world of MPAA.

    Of course they think their microscopic brains thin that the FTC can do something

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2012 @ 12:29pm

    Re: They can barely use their Blackberries

    I thought people just needed edumication?

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2012 @ 12:30pm

    The closed software sector may want to call those senators and ask them to stop helping out LoL

     

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  5.  
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    Jeremy2020 (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 12:32pm

    We all knew they would try to slip in other bills or get it through illegally going around congress who responded to the outcry against it.

     

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  6.  
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    monkyyy, Apr 5th, 2012 @ 12:42pm

    well the ftc could act like most government sectors and completely overstep their bounds whenever a moral panic arises

     

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  7.  
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    heyidiot (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 12:57pm

    They should try sending a letter...

    ...to Santa Claus.

    Works for me.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2012 @ 1:01pm

    Actually, if the companies are selling into the US, the FTC does have some jurisdiction on their commerce.

    It's not as far fetched as you might think.

     

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  9.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Re: They can barely use their Blackberries

    But if they get that, they'd realize that copyright is stupid.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2012 @ 1:07pm

    Re: They can barely use their Blackberries

    No, there's not but the FTC can certainly throw it's weight around at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, World Trade Organization and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in an effort to get countries to enforce their existing laws and trade agreements related to infringing websites. In the face of economic sanctions (or incentives) most nations will gladly throw an infringing website under the bus. It's not like these guys are doing much for the local economy, why would, say Belize, risk sanctions or forgo incentives to protect the local Megaupload?

     

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  11.  
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    el_segfaulto (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 1:10pm

    Re: They can barely use their Blackberries

    Sure there is! It's next to President Obama's magic "make gas prices go down" dial.

     

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  12.  
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    Zos (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 1:16pm

    Didn't the ftc just get a good kicking, last time they flexed their muscles and tried for a castrated net neutrality?

     

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  13.  
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    A Guy (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 1:18pm

    This does seem like a good way to speed the transition to open source software in the targeted companies.

    Why deal with the bureaucracy of proving to the FTC you don't infringe a software patent or license when you could just avoid the whole mess by adopting linux/libreoffice?

    Why deal with the US when doing business at all?

    I suppose industrial control systems are still proprietary enough to be targetable, but that's about it.

     

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  14.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 1:19pm

    When did US politicians decide that they can extend US laws and regulations beyond the borders of the US?

     

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  15.  
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    lexieliberty (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 1:22pm

    I am just lost in the awe of how the gatekeepers think. Why is closed off good? It really isn't and not even for them. Open source and transparency are present and will shape this century. What they are doing with their bought Senators is like soo 50 years ago.

     

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  16.  
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    nasch (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 1:23pm

    The real victims

    Finally, even if the FTC could magically stop these companies from using unauthorized software, the end result is likely that those companies would simply shift to alternatives, such as open source software themselves.

    It's true, there is a real victim of software piracy, and it's open source software. In the imaginary world where software piracy is impossible, I'm sure software sales would be up a bit, and open source software use would be up massively.

     

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  17.  
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    Ruben, Apr 5th, 2012 @ 1:39pm

    Response to: Vincent Clement on Apr 5th, 2012 @ 1:19pm

    I think that was some time in the 1950's.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2012 @ 1:42pm

    so how many of the 16 where in favor of SOPA? how many have received 'donations' from the entertainment and software industries? how many of them still haven't realised why the people went against SOPA? how many of these still haven't got a bloody clue as to what the internet is actually about?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2012 @ 1:44pm

    Regardless of whether they would have BOUGHT the software they are still obtaining the benefit of USING the software. This gives the companies pirating software a competitive advantage over domestic companies who PAID for the software - the advantage being a larger balance sheet. It's not just about revenue for the content creator it's about establishing a fair field of play for commerce.

     

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  20.  
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    Bengie, Apr 5th, 2012 @ 1:55pm

    ummm..

    "reduce their operating costs through the use of pirated IT"

    I'm still trying to figure out how one pirates trained professional's salaries and infrastructure, which is nearly all of the cost.

    Haven't they heard, software doesn't sell, services do. Look at Red Hat.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2012 @ 2:28pm

    Re:

    Here pirate some software dude.

    https://www.centos.org/ (aka pirated version of Red Hat Enterprise)

    LoL

     

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  22.  
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    PopeRatzo (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    The Sh$t List

    "The senators who signed the letter are Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), David Vitter (R-La.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.)."
    These are the ones we throw out of office first.

    Who's with me? I don't see one name I would miss.

     

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  23.  
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    A Guy (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 2:50pm

    Re:

    LOL

    A fair field of play in commerce?

    I'll give you a hint. Start with companies like Bank of America and work your way out from there. If you think rampant software piracy is the biggest institutional threat to the American taxpayer and the American economy, I have a bank to sell you.
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/bank-of-america-too-crooked-to-fail-20120314

     

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  24.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 4:21pm

    Re:

    This gives the companies pirating software a competitive advantage over domestic companies who PAID for the software - the advantage being a larger balance sheet.


    This isn't even close to right. Companies using pirated software have no advantage over companies using equivalent free software. So the advantage is there, pirated software or not, to anyone who wants to take advantage of it.

     

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  25.  
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    abc gum, Apr 5th, 2012 @ 9:31pm

    Re: Re: They can barely use their Blackberries

    FTC: Now stop that software infringement or I shall taunt you a second time.

     

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  26.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 11:11pm

    Re:

    And domestic companies pirating software over domestic companies who PAID for the software. So what is your point? That all domestic companies actually does pay for their software which is the sole reason they lack behind? Yeah, right.

     

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  27.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Apr 5th, 2012 @ 11:14pm

    Re: ummm..

    Didn't you know? It's the #1 argument from Micros~1 against Open Source: that with most projects license costs are negligible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 6:18am

    Re: Re: They can barely use their Blackberries

    "in an effort to get countries to enforce their existing laws and trade agreements"

    If they're violating existing agreements, why does the FTC specifically have to get involved? What if the countries most used to infringe aren't a part of any of those organisations and/or are not bound to any agreements? What if the sites involved are perfectly legal in their home countries and shouldn't be held accountable to foreign laws?

    Oh, sorry, I forgot it's an AC. You want to try and force other countries to change their own laws to please your corporate lords and an easy scapegoat who you can point to when this inevitably fails, instead of actually adapting. Nothing to see here, then...

     

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  29.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: They can barely use their Blackberries

    bahahahahahahahahaha

    Oh you're serious..

    BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    I want you to look at the US Economy,
    Then at the Asian, Oceanic, Brazilian, and Chinese Economy.
    Back to yours

    Notice the difference.

    yes they have one that is actually in positive movement

    The only sway the FTC has over any other countries trade and/or Economy now is to make that other country laugh hysterically.

     

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  30.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 10:01am

    Re:

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Refer to my comment above to the reason why the USA cannot afford to disallow countries to stop selling to you.

    Your citizens are already buying bugger all, and you want then to spend less?

    WOW

     

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  31.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 10:05am

    Re: The Sh$t List

    These are the ones we throw out of office first.

    At least open the window first, cleaners hate bits of glass on plushpile

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: They can barely use their Blackberries

    Not the kind of education where people learn to think for themselves. The kind of education where people learn to accept and regurgitate what is fed to them. You know the same kind they teach in the school system.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2012 @ 7:34am

    PS 0-1 FOSS

     

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  34.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Apr 7th, 2012 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: They can barely use their Blackberries

    My school taught me to think.

     

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  35.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Apr 7th, 2012 @ 10:56am

    Re: Re: They can barely use their Blackberries

    I thought Bush had that dial first?

     

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  36.  
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    Chargone (profile), Apr 8th, 2012 @ 5:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: They can barely use their Blackberries

    tell me, good sir, where is this mystical land you hail from?

    honestly, all my schooling taught me was that the administrators are corrupt or incompetent, the educators overworked, and that my luck is just Weird. (watch me take absolutely no action to in any way cover my misdeeds, and get off scott-free, minimum. watch me suffer significant penalties (in the scale of 'stuff the school can do without involving your parents' or, occasionally, when that was unavoidable, 'stuff the school can do without involving the law or the creation of any records') for things i had nothing to do with or was the victim of. wheee... (seriously, i had POLICE showing up at my house because i was SICK and the school refused to do anything to allow me to continue my studies while dealing with health issues, instead choosing to add extra financial burdens and waste everyone's time (including the already overworked Doctor)... it was a long and stupid chain of events.))

    schools that actually teach the students how to think are few and far between... and here abouts, at least, a lot of them have completely lost the ability to even teach Facts and Skills because they prefer to 'teach the students how to think' by.... not teaching them anything. (seriously, 'teaching the student how to think' meant 'give them research projects and essays without ever teaching how to actually do research, or write essays, or allowing for the fact that you assigned a topic neither the school nor public libraries had any information on. good job.)

    grrr, rant rant rant.

    anyway, yeah, point is, a school that teaches you how to think is a rare thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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