Isn't there a term for doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? In a Congressional hearing that was more for show in preparation of a new push for the COICA censorship bill, the acting Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante, told the hearing that the way to stop foreign websites that link to infringing content is to "starve" their revenue
, by having credit card companies cut them off and having advertisers not be allowed to run ads on their sites (things found in COICA, of course). Amusingly, her claims come just a few days after a massively detailed research report suggested exactly the opposite
was true. Not like one would expect the Register of Copyrights to actually pay attention to what the research says, I guess.
Furthermore, Pallante's argument makes no sense for a variety of reasons. First, as we've pointed out repeatedly -- including to many entertainment industry officials directly: if these sites are really making so much money, why not start your own sites? Surely people would prefer to get the content from legitimate sources. All these sites are really doing is highlighting how the industry has failed
to serve a consumer need. Second, for well over a decade, we've seen that the vast majority of unauthorized file sharing is done for entirely non-commercial reasons. You'd have to have not been paying attention at all to think that everyone setting up these sites is doing it for the money. Third, the idea that these sites would just go away if you blocked payment from these sources is again laughable. Every time these sites are taken down or blocked in some manner, they or other similar sites pop right back up. Continuing to pretend you can stop them, rather than trying to compete with them, simply doesn't work.
At the same hearing, Paramount's COO apparently did his usual song-and-dance
where he showed how searching for stuff on Google could lead you to infringing material. He and another speaker, Daniel Castro, of ITIF, both suggested that censorship without prior adversarial hearings was not a problem. Sure, it's not a problem for the businesses they represent. It is a problem if you believe in the fundamental tenets of the Constitution, of course. Castro went to ridiculous extremes, suggesting that the government needs to blatantly censor the web through a "blacklist" filter that ISPs and search engines would be required to block. Anyone who thinks that won't be abused hasn't been paying attention. Thankfully, at least a couple of Congressional reps -- Zoe Lofgren and Mel Watts -- found these proposals extremely troubling. Unfortunately, many others on the panel are just itching to move forward with COICA, anyway. So, expect this fight to move on along similar lines. Hopefully enough of our elected officials recognize that there are existing ways to deal with infringement, and blatant censorship without serious due process is not even close to the right way to handle these things.
It's really amazing, in this day and age, that some of our elected officials honestly seem to think censorship is the answer to anything.