State Dept. Enlists Hollywood And Its Friends To Start A Fake Twitter Fight Over Intellectual Property

from the um,-guys? dept

For all the talk of "fake news" going around these days, you'd think that the federal government would avoid creating more of its own on purpose. And you'd think that the MPAA and RIAA would know better than to join in on such a project. However, the following email was sent to some folks at Stanford Law School asking the law school to join in this fake news project promoting intellectual property via a fake Twitter feud:

Good Morning! My name is H------, and I am reaching out to you from the State Department’s Bureau of Economic Affairs. I gave you call a little earlier this morning, but I thought I would follow up with an email as well.

Currently, I am working on a social media project with the Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement. This summer, we want to activate an audience of young professionals- the kind of folks who are interested in foreign policy, but who aren’t aware that intellectual property protection touches every part of their lives. I think the law school students at your institution may be the type of community that we would like to engage. Additionally, we know that your law school is ranked among the top schools in Intellectual Property law, and thus our campaign may not only be fun, but relevant for you all as well.

So a little bit of a recap from the message that I left you this morning. The Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs wants to start a fake Twitter feud. For this feud, we would like to invite you and other similar academic institutions to participate and throw in your own ideas!

The week after the 4th of July, when everyone gets back from vacation but will still feel patriotic and summery, we want to tweet an audacious statement like, “Bet you couldn’t see the Independence Day fireworks without bifocals; first American diplomat Ben Franklin invented them #bestIPmoment @StateDept” Our public diplomacy office is still settling on a hashtag and a specific moment that will be unique to the State Department, but then we invite you to respond with your own #MostAmericanIP, or #BestIPMoment. Perhaps it will an alumni defending intellectual property in the courts or an article that your institution has produced regarding this topic.

Some characters from the IP community here in DC have agreed to participate with their own tweets: US Patent and Trademark Office, the Copyright Alliance, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Copyright Office, and the Recording Industry Association of America. We hope to diversify this crowd with academic institutions, sports affiliations, trade associations, and others!

Please give me a call or email me with any questions, comments, or concerns. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Sincerely,
H--------
Official
UNCLASSIFIED

So, let's break this down. This is literally the State Department, working with the IP Enforcement Coordinator (normally called the "IP Czar") to team up with the MPAA, RIAA and Copyright Alliance (a front group for the RIAA and MPAA), along with the Patent & Trademark Office and the Copyright Office to create a fake Twitter feud over who likes copyright and patents more.

Everything about this is crazy. First, the State Dept. should not be creating fake news or fake Twitter feuds. Second, even if it were to do so, it seems to have picked one side of the debate, arguing that greater copyright and patent enforcement is obviously a good thing (how far we've come from the time when it was the State Department that fought back against SOPA and told the White House not to support it).

Separate from that, why are the MPAA, the RIAA and the Copyright Alliance agreeing to team up with the US government to create fake stories? That seems... really, really wrong. I get that they are obsessed with always pushing a misleading and one-sided message on copyright law, but creating out and out propaganda with the US government?

Also, even if the geniuses at IPEC -- an office that was set up in 2008 under another anti-piracy copyright law -- falsely believe it's their job to push Hollywood's message out to the world, how could they possibly have thought it was a bright idea to engage in outright propaganda using Twitter... and to try to enlist law school professors and students in these shenanigans?

I've put out a request for comment from the State Department's Bureau of Economic Affairs, and will update this post if I hear back.


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  1. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 7 Jul 2017 @ 5:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A. You: I choose Me: That's an assumption without a basis You: I choose

    Okay, what do you want to call a situation in which a decision is made between two or more options? Most of us call it "choosing."

    B. The early stages of a child's life color what they believe because they have very little ability to discern truth from falsehood at that age. This is the point of their life when they are indoctrinated with countless cultural and social beliefs particular to their society that are difficult to impossible to fully examine. It is a solid example of people being made to believe a set of things by an outside power. The fact that someone might overcome a few of these cultural assumptions in their life doesn't change that thousands of others go unexamined.

    Agreed. And if we never have the beliefs with which we've been indoctrinated challenged, we might never have the opportunity to make a decision between one set of options or another. The moment at which a "choice" is made to either overcome cultural assumptions or not is when the challenge is made, in my personal experience. I've had to overcome a lot of cultural assumptions, sometimes with a great deal of difficulty, because the options were either "Be willing to consider this argument on its merits using the information available to you" or "Just keep on believing as you always have. It's less bothersome than having to deal with the likely fallout of going against the social grain." I have since learned that going against the social grain is not as bad as I thought it would be and is often worthwhile.

    C. Sorry, I forgot to say that (for it to be true) would imply that you and all other humans exist in perfectly identical circumstances under perfectly identical rules. And since that notion is preposterous, it's false.

    That makes no sense at all. See my last point.

    Easy examples can be made to show the invalidity of that logical form, such as "If I can walk, so can people with no legs." You see how it doesn't apply in all cases? Since it doesn't apply in all cases, it can't actually prove anything about your case on its own. Pretty basic logic.

    That's not logic at all. "If I can walk, so can others" implies that I have legs. Denying the existence of personal agency (the ability to choose), as you do, absolves the individual of personal responsibility. I've been under pressure all my life to accept this and to conform to that but when reality interjected with, "Excuse me, here are some facts you may find inconvenient" I had to decide whether or not to consider those facts or reject them in case I ended up in conflict with my peers. We see this every day when partisans and ideologues hop in to post their talking points irrespective of whether or not they pertain to the subject. When we challenge their assumptions they make the decision to maintain their position, no doubt for fear that changing these assumptions might cause them to lose face, or something.

    When I decided to accept that decriminalisation was the way forward for dealing with drug abuse it meant going against decades of conservative assumptions that drugs are bad, breaking the law is bad, and that voluntarily making yourself dependent on others is bad. I still believe those things are bad but I've decided that if the options before me are a) continue with a policy that does more harm than good solely on the basis that bad people ought to be punished or b) managing the problem effectively and reducing the harm it does, I'll take b) on the grounds that social problems don't really have solutions as such, the best we can do is manage them and reduce harm to the greatest extent possible. Does that make sense?


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