If you think the issue of copyright reform shouldn’t concern you, think again. There is no way to enforce the latest draconian trend in copyright legislation without law enforcement monitoring any and all traffic from your pc. This is something the Bush administration has been trying to do for years, successfully at that, but under the pretense of rooting out terrorists. Now consider the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Here’s the backdoor “intellectual property” gambit to do what Bush could not do in terms of demolishing the 4th amendment: An IP address is seldom an individual address connected to just one computer, it is usually a gateway through which several computers connect wirelessly or otherwise. The RIAA’s contention is unconstitutional on its face, making a mockery of our 4th amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Their case is basically this: as a copyright holder, it would be perfectly reasonable if I went to your door, barged in with the FBI and receipt for a CD, and then snooped through your drawers, your daughters drawers, your son’s, and wife’s drawers just in case one of you stole my precious Metallica CD. Worse, in some cases, one IP address can cover several residences (as in a university) or even a city block. And all I know is that someone on that block or city IP address may have my CD. Actually, I can’t even say I know for sure. This is all provided that the IP I have was not spoofed in the first place. Under the ACTA legislation proposed by the MPAA and RIAA, then predictably pushed by Rep. Howard Berman (D) and Rep. John Conyers (D), any citizen would be subject to random search and seizure of laptops and iPods when traveling outside the United States. The pretense? protecting you not from terrorist, but from copyright infringers; or worse, simply assuming you are one. Moreover, the jurisdiction for this would fall under the authority of international law. According to the Vancouver Sun (italics mine),
“The deal would create an international regulator that could turn border guards and other public security personnel into copyright police. The security officials would be charged with checking laptops, iPods and even cellular phones for content that “infringes” on copyright laws, such as ripped CDs and movies. The guards would also be responsible for determining what is infringing content and what is not.”
In some cases, one IP address can cover several residences (as in a university) or even a city block. And all I know is that someone on that block or city IP address may have my CD. Actually, I can’t even say I know for sure. This is all provided that the IP I have was not spoofed in the first place.
Now this is on its face a totalitarian concept you’d find in the pages of 1984, backed by legislators like Howard Berman and John Conyers, the latter who admitted on camera he never read the Patriot Act before voting for it, excusing himself by saying most of his colleagues never read it either. The question now is, did he forget to read this one also? because not only does it surrender national sovereignty to an international regulator, it completely obliterates any remaining trace of your 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. This deal would also get around the pitfalls that crippled national Security letters: their illegality. Berman and Conyers support legislation that “could also impose strict regulations on Internet service providers, forcing those companies to hand over customer information without a court order.” We all know Conyers went after Bush and company for using telecoms to spy illegally on Americans. But what were the crimes of the telecoms for which they seek immunity? Surrendering the same information, and tacit monitoring, without a court order! Conyers, for the sake of the RIAA and MPAA, is seeking to legalize the very crime he accused Bush of! But what if you are not traveling? doesn’t matter. You’d still be subject to a new, and legalized form of National Security Letters issued by alleged copyright holders: Copyright Security Letters.
The wary know this is a convenient back-door strategy to monitor political dissent and activity under the guise of protecting Americans. This was the aim of the Bush administration, and with the wide net of telecom complicity or acquiescence, they were able to monitor and harass peace activists unchallenged. The illegality of this all is the basis for the great telecom immunity debate. However, when the same exact abuse of privacy rights is done in the name of protecting copyright, the outcry isn’t so vehement, but the consequences just as dire. The same telecoms targeted for illegal activity under the neo-cons are now tasked to the the same job by a new wave of legislators pandering to the the RIAA, MPAA, and other special interests in the private sector. One shouldn’t fear terrorists. They have always existed and always will, and if you fear them they have succeeded in their prime objective: terrorizing you, which leaves you vulnerable to their manipulation, and also vulnerable to manipulation by third parties, such as tyrants seeking justification to expand their powers. The goal of the terrorist is make you act against your best interests that their agenda may be pursued and effected. The tyrant who piggybacks on the fear they instill shares the same objective.
Terrorists don’t take away your civil rights, but compromised legislators do. And of all the excuses slack-jawed tyrants and crooked politicians will use to justify the destruction of your Bill of Rights, protecting you from copyright infringement is the most pathetic and criminal of all. It makes Bush’s pretense of destroying our civil rights to protect us from terrorists seem noble by comparison.
At bottom, Americans have to decide if any copyright holder, either real or assumed, has a right to supersede your 4th amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure simply to go on fishing expeditions, and not just with federal approval, but federal resources. At bottom, Americans must decide whether or not any elected official with such an ignorance of, or contempt of, your basic privacy rights under the Constitution deserves to stay in office. It’s no less absurd than if I went to your door, barged in with a policeman and receipt for a watch, and snooped through your drawers just in case you stole that watch from me, because I know someone on that block or city did. (That’s assuming I’m even in the right country. An IP address can easily be spoofed.)
It’s the Bribery, Stupid
One question we have to ask ourselves is if the RIAA and Hollywood’s influence in both parties constitutes “influence peddling” or “bribery”. An ongoing bribery case against a Louisiana congressman should help us clear this up. According to a federal judge, both are illegal.
Judge rejects indicted La. congressman’s theory on bribery law, allows charges to stand
MATTHEW BARAKAT AP News May 27, 2008 19:56 EST
A federal judge has refused to toss out a bribery indictment against a Louisiana congressman who argued that his alleged misdeeds were technically more akin to influence peddling than bribery. In an order made public Tuesday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III denied a motion filed by U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., seeking dismissal of 15 of the 16 counts against him.Prosecutors allege that Jefferson received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for using his influence to broker business deals in Africa. Jefferson’s lawyers argued unsuccessfully that federal bribery laws apply to a congressman only if he takes a bribe in exchange for official action like taking votes or sponsoring legislation. Ellis wrote in his ruling that prosecutors can broadly interpret what constitutes an “official act” under the law, but they will have to prove at trial that a congressman’s customary duties include using his influence to lobby federal agencies. The trial against Jefferson is on hold while a federal appeals court considers a separate legal argument made by the congressman â€” that prosecutors obtained the indictment by unconstitutionally infringing on his privileges as a congressman. The indictment against Jefferson alleges he received more than $500,000 in bribes and demanded millions more between 2000 and 2005, including $90,000 he received from an FBI informant that was later found in the freezer of his Washington home. Prosecutors said he used his influence as chairman of the congressional Africa Investment and Trade Caucus to broker deals in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and other African nations on behalf of those who paid bribes to him. Jefferson’s lawyer, Robert Trout, declined comment Tuesday. Jefferson has denied wrongdoing.
Let’s take this same story and change the main character and a few minor details. Instead of William Jefferson, let’s say it’s Howard Berman. Instead of business brokers in Nigeria, Cameroon, etc., let’s say it’s the RIAA and MPAA seeking his influence to sponsor legislation favoring the record labels and movie industries, e.g. ACTA, then compare the two.
Judge rejects indicted La. congressman’s theory on bribery law, allows charges to stand
MATTHEW BARAKAT AP News May 27, 2008 19:56 EST A federal judge has refused to toss out a bribery indictment against a Louisiana Hollywood congressman who argued that his alleged misdeeds were technically more akin to influence peddling than bribery. In an order made public Tuesday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III denied a motion filed by U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-La. U.S. Rep. Howard Berman D-CA, seeking dismissal of 15 of the 16 counts against him. Prosecutors allege that Jefferson Berman received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for using his influence to broker business deals in Africa in Congress regarding ACTA. Jefferson’s Berman’s lawyers argued unsuccessfully that federal bribery laws apply to a congressman only if he takes a bribe in exchange for official action like taking votes or sponsoring legislation. Ellis wrote in his ruling that prosecutors can broadly interpret what constitutes an “official act” under the law, but they will have to prove at trial that a congressman’s customary duties include using his influence to lobby federal agencies. The trial against Jefferson Berman is on hold while a federal appeals court considers a separate legal argument made by the congressman â€” that prosecutors obtained the indictment by unconstitutionally infringing on his privileges as a congressman. The indictment against Jefferson Berman alleges he received more than $500,000 in bribes and demanded millions more between 2000 and 2005, including $90,000 he received from an FBI informant that was later found in the freezer of his Washington home. Prosecutors said he used his influence as chairman of the congressional Africa Investment and Trade Caucus United States House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property to broker deals in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and other African nations on behalf of the RIAA and MPAA campaign donors who paid bribes to him whose lawyers wrote ACTA legislation which Berman sponsored. Jefferson’s Berman’s lawyer, Robert Trout, declined comment Tuesday. Jefferson Berman has denied wrongdoing.
When you consider that campaign donations to a certain politicians by a certain industry, resulting in the politician’s subsequent introduction of legislation favoring said industry, we’re dealing with bribery, and it doesn’t matter if the money is being used to fund a political campaign. It’s no different than if he took that money and bought a house or car with it; that politician used the money for financial, personal gain. When you consider legislators who sponsor legislation written by lawyers in the industry itself, it’s hard to argue that a case cannot be made for outright bribery. Hollywood’s and the RIAA’s influence peddling, as it has been called before, can be equated with bribery under the federal judge’s ruling and as we can see in the case of William Jefferson, the FBI can launch a solid case against any politician whose legislation can be overtly and consistently tied to the interests of the same campaign donors. Most people can see the actions of Jefferson and Berman are offensive, wrong, and aim to subvert the rights of Americans under the false pretense of protecting all Americans, as opposed to a tiny, wealthy segment of Americans believing themselves more equal than others. What would compel anyone to to promote such obscenity, to subvert and defile the very Constitution they are sworn to uphold? One word: money.
Speaking of influence peddling, I mean, bribery, let’s take a piece of legislation that arguably falls under the bribery prerequisites the federal judge allowed Jefferson to be charged with:It was written by lawyers for certain corporations in the entertainment industry which have a long history of funding his campaign, with an obvious quid pro quo: Who is really behind Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)? Follow the money:Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) Top four campaign contributions for 2006: Time Warner $21,000 News Corp $15,000 Sony Corp of America $14,000 Walt Disney Co $13,550 Top two Industries: TV/Movies/Music $181,050 Lawyers/Law Firms $114,200 Other politicians listed also show significant contributions from IP industries. http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Proposed_US_ACTA_multi-l …
Guilty Before Proven Innocent
Can you be imprisoned for false or unproven damages?
If Sen. Orrin Hat
ch, (R), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D), Rep. Howard Berman (D) and others have their way: Yes.
Once, just once, it’d be nice to see these legislators visit the prisons where they put non-violent offenders. Maybe then they’d understand the cruel obscenity they hope to inflict on their own constituents for the sake of campaign contributors, and this over unproven or false damages. The RIAA and MPAA claim file sharing has contributed to tangible losses (ignoring the ongoing RIAA CD boycott), and they have repeated this absurdity often enough to have some in the media actually believe it. However, one major study released in March of 2004, by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, found that file sharing actually increased CD sales at a rate of one CD sale for every 150 files shared. The record and movie industry have contradictory studies, but it just goes to show the so-called damages are unproven at best, and downright falsehoods at worst. Download the study in PDF here. Today, video and DVD sales account for 50% or more of a movie’s revenue, and the VCR has became a boon to Hollywood: sleeper hits- movies that spent little time in theaters- found a larger audiences in video sales and made millions when the film would have lost money otherwise. Yet there was a time when Jack Valenti, the late head of the MPAA, would have denied the same movie industry of its cash cow when he lobbied against the introduction of the VCR. “The VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston Strangler is to the woman alone” he argued before a Congressional panel in 1979. Think about it. This asswipe wanted Americans to fear an inanimate object like the VCR, and compared it to a serial murderer. Valenti’s comparison was patently absurd as it was self-defeating (had the studios won), but his was no different than the argument we’re hearing today regarding music and movie downloads. Technology then was ahead of the entertainment industry’s executives, as it is now. What could be making these industries money is instead being foolishly attacked, and the industry is alienating potential customers in the most critical demographic group: 18-34. If any anti-P2P legislation is passed, it sets a precedent wherein anyone can be imprisoned for false damages. This alone makes for a rock solid constitutional challenge by P2P users. Moreover, if you share your CD with some friends, there is no way of proving that this act contributed to lost sales; directly or indirectly. On the contrary, it is actually easier to prove sharing a file contributed to a CD sale than otherwise; and it is virtually impossible to prove it lost one. Just because someone downloads and previews a song on their pc doesn’t mean they would have bought the CD otherwise. That would make anyone who heard FM radio a pirate! How many of you out there have heard a catchy tune on the radio, liked it or even requested it on air, but never bothered to buy the CD? No one on P2P is trying to sell these albums, so just calling it piracy is a malicious representation that speaks volumes on the moral integrity of those who wrote the Pirate Act and similar legislation. Sharing exposes the artist to potential customers who might want to buy their own copy. Not sharing means no exposure for an otherwise obscure or unheard act. It cannot be assumed that a shared music file would have been purchased without consumer exposure to the same, but this is the insulting and contradictory claim of the major labels.