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Can't pirate, the IP Czar will eat me
October 14, 2008 4:51 PM   Subscribe

The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (PRO-IP) Act has added a whole other dimension to the term "copyright infringement." Sponsored by the US entertainment industry, it allows seizure of assets before the accused is found guilty and the creation of a new executive branch led by an "Intellectual Property Czar" who would report directly to the President on IP crimes--similar to the Drug Czar of the War on Drugs. Financial penalties for copyright crimes have increased dramatically. More information here, and a summary of critiques here. Is this a useful addition to the War On Copyright Infringement or just more bureaucratic red tape?
posted by schroedinger (45 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Because the war on drugs is going so well.
posted by Pants! at 4:53 PM on October 14, 2008


Today, on COPS:

"Look at that guy. He looks like a pirate. Hipster shirt, headphones... *pulls over* Is that an MP3 you have there? Show it to me. Come on, show it to me. *shove* Yeah, it's an MP3. *shows to camera* Do you have any more of those? DO - YOU - HAVE - ANY - MORE - OF - THOSE?"
posted by qvantamon at 5:00 PM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


An excellent critique of the act by Senior Copyright Counsel at Google.
posted by naju at 5:06 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


In five years, I imagine it will be illegal to record anything or own any recording equipment without a government license.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:08 PM on October 14, 2008


.
posted by maxwelton at 5:11 PM on October 14, 2008


The roll call vote in the House and the makeup of the cosponsors in the Senate show wide bipartisan support for this foolishness.

To me, this law is more legislative hysteria. Like the creation of the analogous Drug Czar (Tsar? Caesar?) position, like the so-called PATRIOT act, it's a symbolic overreaction to a poorly-understood phenomenon. Not that symbolic laws have any less force than their less charged counterparts.

I wonder if these laws will hold up over time, or if (eventually) a new generation of lawmakers will come in, having used Napster and Kazaa in their youth, and say "you know what? This just isn't that big a deal."
posted by baltimoretim at 5:12 PM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Astounding. This can be used to arrest basically anyone at any time. Hell, I know 75-year-old grandmothers who download music. I know an 80-year-old man with pirate satellite. Next thing you know, they'll be putting up posters encouraging us to rat on each other.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:13 PM on October 14, 2008


The tighter the racketeers grip their ill gotten intellectual property and force the government to criminalize and penalize circumvention, the more property will slip through their fingers.

When people are so afraid of punishment that they're afraid to do anything with music or movies or books or software, there will be and incredible demand for CC-licensed products and other copyright schemes, and they will be mainstreamed so fast that the racketeers' heads will spin.
posted by chimaera at 5:13 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Forget the crazy penalties and the increasing procedural insanity, the entire concept of criminal copyright infringement is quite possibly over the edge. The powers that be confidently strode over that line of reason in the last century.

So I'm beginning to think that far from being a crime, copyright infringement and anything else that would deprive the real criminals who are behind this legislation from any form of revenue whatsoever is a duty, and a patriotic one at that.

Despite all the other shit hitting the fan, I'm almost ready to vote on this single issue alone, as I think that this extreme legislation absolutely cannot be the process of a rational and moral process.

We're going to create another wave of authoritarian abuse and reduction of personal and civil liberties on the order of that seen with the war on drugs to protect copyright?

If so, the balance of the copyright bargain is not merely out of whack anymore, it has simply collapsed.
posted by namespan at 5:14 PM on October 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


Is this a useful addition to the War On Copyright Infringement

No, but it is a useful addition to the War on Freedom. Probably not nearly as useful as the drug war, but every little bit helps, right?
posted by treepour at 5:16 PM on October 14, 2008


It's not just about music downloading. Acts like this could render search engines illegal. Which would really, really suck.
posted by GuyZero at 5:20 PM on October 14, 2008


the creation of a new executive branch led by an "Intellectual Property Czar" who would report directly to the President on IP crimes

First act -- arrest the President for pirating Beatles tunes.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:24 PM on October 14, 2008


In five years everyone, all the way up to the President, will download everything illegally. However, every two years a random person will be caught and impaled on a giant hook for the crime of illegal downloading. Making people suffer for downloading will make everyone value downloading more.

Btw, Prosperity is just around the corner.
posted by mullingitover at 5:26 PM on October 14, 2008


Land of the free.
posted by signal at 5:27 PM on October 14, 2008


At some point, the music industry turned the corner from making money on music to making money on litigation. Since raising CD prices no longer effects us, they need to raise their prices somehow to continue reaching their profit margins.

This is one of those "raise hell with your Congressman" issues.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:28 PM on October 14, 2008


This new law seems both necessary and logical to me. Pretty basic stuff.

What's a good fascist state without an apparatus to protect the corporations from the people?
posted by rokusan at 5:28 PM on October 14, 2008


They nibble at the edges. Eventually, though, the whole is consumed.

I don't really believe in conspiracies, but if the goal in everyone's corporate mind is "get more", eventually we'll be getting very little, but giving a lot. Where will that end, precisely? Corporations want your money, and they already have money, so they have the ear of politicians. Law increasingly favors their interests, all in the name of Intellectual Property and a strong economy. History shows that companies try to get and keep any advantage they can. After all, profit is king, and there's nothing wrong with that!

I sometimes wonder if they wouldn't prefer to deduct a set of required "living costs" from us all, give a receipt that shows we now have 0$, and laugh until next month when they do it all again.
posted by SaintCynr at 5:33 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


What's a good fascist state without an apparatus to protect the corporations from the people?

Singapore.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:33 PM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Seriously fuck those cutesy backronym bill names.
posted by pompomtom at 5:38 PM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Directs the Attorney General to:... ...deploy five additional Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordinators in foreign countries.


Where would they send them to? Sweden? Canada?

At least if they sent them to Canada they'd get a nice judge explaining to them, very slowly, that illegally acquired evidence can't be used for lawsuits. Then they could sit on their assess and play computer games until they're recalled.
posted by Pseudology at 5:44 PM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


chimaera: When people are so afraid of punishment that they're afraid to do anything with music or movies or books or software, there will be and incredible demand for CC-licensed products and other copyright schemes, and they will be mainstreamed so fast that the racketeers' heads will spin.

In fact, I think this won't happen, because the music industry actually recognizes, in the cavernous spaces of their minds, that they can't outlaw all those other uses. They don't really want to outlaw ALL filesharing, they just want to stop the most visible aspects of it. They want to make it impossible for someone to turn it into their business model.

Not that this is any better or worse. In fact arguably it IS worse, if they DID suddenly announce such a lawsuit (RIAA v. Everyone With A Computer), then the situation you mention would indeed come to pass, and they could be immediately put out of business, instead of this lengthy pussy-footing around, hanging on to life, trying to monetize all the inconvenience they can wring out of us before their last drop of blood leaks out.
posted by JHarris at 5:47 PM on October 14, 2008


From the article:

"Unfortunately, unauthorized file sharing is wildly entrepreneurial and adapts with catlike agility. You know what's not going to adapt with catlike agility? The interagency intellectual property enforcement advisory committee's joint strategic plan against counterfeiting and infringement."

Heh, now that's awesome writing. It's like onomatopoeia with the concept. (ok, there is probably a specific word for that, but I don't know it)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:16 PM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


angst... malaise... a troubled sense of foreboding. These are dark times.
You can almost smell the next Metallica album coming.

It will be a trap.
posted by hal9k at 6:26 PM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Next thing you know, they'll be putting up posters encouraging us to rat on each other.

Oooh, I'm tempted to do that. Set up an official-looking (perhaps slightly creepy in its overzealousness) website where people can do their patriotic duty, then make a range of cafepress posters that are like something right out of "Brazil", which direct Good Folk to do their Duty.

(Double-plus goodness would be drumming up references and sales of the posters in RIAA affiliated companies.)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:29 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


*sigh* Looks like I need to write me rep more on these issues. Baldwin is usually pretty liberal, but I guess in this case, well...

Damnit! What horrendous legislation.
posted by symbioid at 6:35 PM on October 14, 2008


They passed a law whose acronym is IPECAC?
posted by grobstein at 6:49 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's no question that unless creative people get paid for content, there won't be any.

I call "Bullshit!". If creative people (like myself) don't get paid for content, then there will still be more content produced than any one person can consume, there will just be more "starving artist" types and fewer middle class and wealthy artists.

People feel a burning need to create. People were creative before IP was invented, and would continue to do so if copyright ceased to exist tomorrow.

Money greases the wheels, and allows for much glossier production values, and for a lot of middle-men to get fat. It is arguably an engine, but it is not the engine.

Creativity is part of people's very soul. IP laws are in no way needed to protect that.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:50 PM on October 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


I sometimes wonder if they wouldn't prefer to deduct a set of required "living costs" from us all, give a receipt that shows we now have 0$, and laugh until next month when they do it all again.

They could even give it a catchy name like ... oh, I don't know ... payroll withholding.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:51 PM on October 14, 2008


Wow, I had found it difficult to conceive of anything more futile than the war on some drugs. My mind is officially blown.
posted by Maias at 7:20 PM on October 14, 2008


I bought my first new retail CD (as opposed to used, or bought at a show) of the year today. It felt kind of weird. It was a local band whose CD release show we missed last week because my wife got sick and we didn't go, and it cost $9.99 plus tax. What amazed me was how much crap the store was full of -- and this is an "independent" record store -- that I would never even consider paying retail price for. I looked at all the new and recent releases that I've had a chance to listen to -- Metallica, Jenny Lewis, Cold War Kids, even Ben Folds who I used to be a huge fan of -- and couldn't imagine shelling out the $15-18 asking price. But it's nice to know that legislation has been passed to make those records better or cheaper, because that's the only thing that's got a chance of changing mass download behavior.
posted by aaronetc at 7:38 PM on October 14, 2008


As I've gotten older I've decided I should probably be a responsible citizen and start paying for music, but all with all the shit that the music industry is pulling it's time to fire up the bit torrent.
posted by afu at 8:03 PM on October 14, 2008


The author of naju's link quotes Sir Hugh Laddie:

Where IP rights perform their function of advancing the sciences or arts, they should be encouraged to do so. Where or to the extent that they do not, they have no justification and the normal discipline of competition should prevail.

It seems both simple and reasonable when written like that. How on earth did we get to the current situation?
posted by markr at 8:39 PM on October 14, 2008


Well, everyone should write their representatives about this, but if you feel like giving money : Gordon Smith (R-OR) seems like the most vulnerable cosponsor, his opponent is Jeff Merkley (D). Of course, you should tell Merkley why if you give him any money.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:10 PM on October 14, 2008


In fact, I think this won't happen, because the music industry actually recognizes, in the cavernous spaces of their minds, that they can't outlaw all those other uses.

JHarris, allow me to introduce you to something I like to call the last seven years. In it terrorism went from flying airplanes into buildings and murdering thousands to making a batch of low grade meth in your garage or marching in protest of something or another.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:12 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


If Obama and McCain weren't around to be handy scapegoats, I think you could reliably pin the entire economic crisis on illegal downloads.

I mean, have you seen the numbers? The hits to the computing and entertainment industries are catastrophic!
posted by graventy at 9:19 PM on October 14, 2008


You know, I used to love Patrick Leahy.
posted by orthogonality at 9:38 PM on October 14, 2008


You can check the house votes too, but I guess the senate passed this unanimously. christ!
posted by jeffburdges at 10:04 PM on October 14, 2008


Goodness! More spending of money the nation simply does not have!

I say, let the industry continue spending its own money on civil suits.
posted by Goofyy at 12:49 AM on October 15, 2008


I guess the senate passed this unanimously. christ!

WHERE IS YOUR OBAMA NOW?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:26 AM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


allow me to introduce you to something I like to call the last seven years. In it terrorism went from flying airplanes into buildings and murdering thousands to making a batch of low grade meth in your garage or marching in protest of something or another.

What's even cooler with laws like these is that they can arrest you and threaten you with prison for crimes you haven't even committed yet. You know, like in Minority Report. For the CHILDREN!

What's a good fascist state without an apparatus to protect the corporations from the people?

That would be called Congress.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 5:39 AM on October 15, 2008


They tried to pass some really awful stuff in the past, anyone remember the SSSCA, later renamed the CPDTPA? It would have made any digital device without DRM illegal. It would have (in effect) made VCRs (or the digital equivalent of) illegal, it would have made ordinary PCs illegal.

By the way, notice how VCRs haven't been replaced by anything, even though DVD burners are pretty cheap? You can't copy from disk to disk and most DVRs don't let you burn to anything (although I think some do).

At the time, most tech companies fought against it, but it's pretty fucked up that only people who work for giant corporations get a say when it comes to legislation like this.
posted by delmoi at 6:39 AM on October 15, 2008


notice how VCRs haven't been replaced by anything

Probably why I still have a VCR.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:18 PM on October 15, 2008


notice how VCRs haven't been replaced by anything

Yes they have: bittorrent.
posted by signal at 6:11 PM on October 15, 2008


A quick count of my home server reveals that I currently am at risk of being fined $99,620,000 if convicted under this law.

What the hell kind of incentive is there to stop now? That's one hundred million dollars. Take everything I own, and every cent I'll ever make, and it won't come close to that over ten lifetimes.

So fuck them. I've got prepaid legal and I'm already in for a penny. I might as well stay in for a pound.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:10 PM on October 15, 2008


So if a Drugs Czar, Intelligence Czar, and Copyright Czar fight who wins?

The Intelligence Czar doesn't know
The Copyright Czar won't let you know
The Drugs Czar just had knowing declared a Class A drug.
posted by srboisvert at 7:47 AM on October 16, 2008


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