Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
chris dodd, mpaa, sopa, white house

MPAA Pretends Dodd Didn't Say That New SOPA Negotiations Were Underway

from the nice-try-guys dept

So Chris Dodd just said that there were ongoing backroom negotiations for a new SOPA, with some push from the White House. Of course, he did it with a wink and a nod, by saying he was "confident" that such was "the case" but that he wouldn't "go into more detail, because obviously if I do, it becomes counterproductive." When asked to clarify, he made it clear that Obama was pressuring the tech community to agree to a version of SOPA:
I'm not going to revisit the events of last winter. I'll only say to you that I'm confident he's using his good relationships in both communities to do exactly what you and I have been talking about.
For all the winking and nodding, the meaning of the statement was pretty clear. Of course, now that it's getting plenty of attention and the MPAA is getting slammed from every direction for continuing its braindead backroom strategy, the organization is simply denying Dodd said what he said:
"Sen Dodd did not say SOPA is coming back to life. He said the tech and entertainment industries need to come together to work on a new solution and those conversations are beginning. SOPA is gone. The path forward now is a serious conversation between all involved industries about new solutions, and that was Sen Dodd's point."
That's an interesting twist on what he actually said, but even if we take the MPAA at their word, this still shows how out of touch they are. Notice that they say the path forward is not an open conversation with internet users. Nope. It's a backroom negotiation between "all involved industries." It's as if the MPAA can't even get its mind around the fact that the stakeholders here are the internet users -- or that any such discussions should be done in public. Instead, the only thing it can think of is that it has to negotiate in backrooms with industry reps. I don't think I've ever come across an organization so ridiculously tone deaf.

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  1. identicon
    Mason Wheeler, 6 Apr 2012 @ 3:05pm

    Time to push back

    If they're going to keep pushing for more, we need to push back just as hard. Time to take our own demands to Congress. We need three basic changes:

    1. Throw out the DMCA "safe harbor" law. Some short-sighted people claim it's useful or even necessary for helping the Internet work. They say it's what enables systems like YouTube to exist. Well, that's nonsense. The safe harbor protection is redundant, and the baggage it brings along with it--DMCA takedowns--are a serious threat to the open Internet. The same protection for useful sites such as YouTube can be assured by codifying that any site that hosts user-generated content operates under the aegis of pre-existing common carrier law, which states that a service whose function is to transmit other people's work bears no liability for the content of that work.

    2. Completely reverse the digital locks and anti-circumvention provisions. DRM is a technology with no moral legitimacy, and it deserves no legal legitimacy either. Our most sacred legal tradition is that a person accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. DRM takes that doctrine and spits in its face. If the DRM software says you're guilty, not only are you not innocent until proven guilty, you're not even guilty until proven innocent. You're simply "guilty because I said so," with no appeal, and (the DRM author's private interpretation of) the penalty for breaking the law is enforced upon you. A private individual taking the law into their own hands is known as vigilantism, and a remote programmer overriding the will of the owner of a computer is known as hacking. Both are quite illegal in any other context, for very good reasons. Why should they be legal in the context of copyright infringement? We need to classify DRM as what it is: a hacking tool whose only use, outside of carefully-controlled security research, is to violate people's rights.

    3) Access to the Internet needs to be classified as a basic right of civilization, on the same order as access to electricity and running water, meaning that no provider may be allowed to restrict it in any way unless the customer is unable to pay. The only exception should be for criminals who have had this right specifically limited through judicial action. (Child pornographers come to mind.)

    With this, we can turn the piracy debate inside out. Our message needs to be, "piracy is your problem, and you have zero right to make it my problem until and unless you are able to prove in court that I am part of the problem."

    The entertainment industry isn't going to stop pushing, so we need to push back, and keep pushing until we enshrine that principle in law.

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