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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Nice priorities, Mr. Holder (and you Democratic Senators, too)
Posted by Jill | 5:40 AM
Up to a third of war veterans in this country have had their homes foreclosed on since 2008. Not one of the top figures in the financial crisis that has brought us three years of recession has been prosecuted. But don't worry, Attorney General Eric Holder is on the case...
...of people burning MP3s and quoting news articles in blogs:
On Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder urged Americans to fink on their neighbors and report intellectual-property offenses like popping or hawking unapproved pharmaceuticals and downloading music and movies illegally.

The announcement at the White House came as the Justice Department kicked off a public campaign against intellectual-property theft, which like all successful wars against societal scourges, will have public-service announcements on MTV.

“Fortunately, we can all be part of the solution. Anyone who suspects an IP crime can visit cybercrime.gov, fbi.gov, or iprcenter.gov to report suspected offenses,” Holder said. “The public’s proactive attention to these issues can help us to disrupt the sale of illegal goods; to prosecute the individuals, gangs, and international criminal organizations that profit from these activities; and to stop those who would exploit the ingenuity of others for monetary gain.”

So far there’s no word on what kind of reward you’ll get for reporting your teen sister for using an app to turn a Miley Cyrus YouTube video into an MP3, but surely you’ll get at least a Scouting badge for your loyalty to Big Content and the American Way.

And it isn't just Eric Holder.

Have you ever embedded a music video that's posted on YouTube on your blog? Have you ever excerpted an article, as I just did above? For that matter, have you ever VISITED YouTube?

Your blog, this blog, even right-wing blogs, plus YouTube, and many other sites could be shut down under the sledgehammer that Congress is wielding as part of the Intellectual Property Protection Act, which is being voted on this week.

I'm disgusted to say that among the sponsors of this bill are the following Democratic Senators, ALL of whom should be receiving e-mails from everyone enlightening them as to the implications of what they are about to pass:

Charles Schumer (NY)
Dianne Feinstein (CA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
Chris Coons (DE)
Richard Blumenthal (CT)

The full name of this travesty is "Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011." It sounds fine on the surface, right? The creative endeavors of others SHOULD be protected. Hell, I get plenty pissed off when I see my blog posts reposted in full on other blogs without attribution or permission. But this is a case of wielding a sledgehammer where a scalpel is required, and is reminiscent of those days when Dick Armey would talk about kids being able to hack into Pentagon computers with the V-Chip, or Ted Stevens explaining the internet as "a series of tubes" (and yes, THIS is still the best YouTube video ever made).

The bill appears on its surface to address foreign servers from delivering copyright-infringing content, but the implications that appear to have not even been considered by the bill's authors (or worse, perhaps they have been, have been identified by the Center for Democracy and Technology (see report PDF), and include:

  • creating a notice-and-cutoff system that allows private parties
    to trget a website’s financial resources
  • altering DNS results in a way which, if done as required under the bill, can compromise cybersecurity
  • force ISPs to patrol ALL user traffic
  • tag many if not all social media sites as infringement facilitators
  • any claim of infringement, by any individual, could cause a site to be taken down. Imagine Catholic League head Bill Donohue's lawyers having a field day with this.

The IP protection has NOTHING in it about fair use. Under this bill, everything from counterfeit medications to one-minute clips from last Sunday's Family Guy to snippets of articles from newspapers would be fair game. I recognize that there is a consumer protection aspect to this as well as protecting the interests of Big Entertainment. But there are ways to protect legitimate interests without running roughshod over kids sharing the latest Rihanna video on Facebook and on blogs whose function is to entertain, inform, and comment. And shame on any Democrat (and yes, I'm also talking to YOU, Mr. Franken) who is too lazy or cowardly or craven to understand the difference.

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