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Congress Creates Copyright Cops 533

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Not satisfied with pitiful potential penalties of $150,000 for infringing upon a $0.99 song, Congress is proposing new copyright cops in the "'PRO IP' Act of 2007, specifically the creation of the Office of the United States Intellectual Property Enforcement Representative (USIPER). They also feel that the authorities need the authority to seize any computers used for infringement and to send copyright cops abroad to help other countries enforce US laws. MPAA boss Dan Glickman praised the bill saying that, 'films left costs foreign and domestic distributors, retailers and others $18 billion a year,' though Ars points out that it allegedly costs the studios only $6 billion."
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Congress Creates Copyright Cops

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  • by dammy ( 131759 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @08:49AM (#21610883)
    GOP was in charge of Congress, /. we all saw their name-party plastered in the article splash. Congress is now in Democrat control and suddenly, no Name-Party is being posted on the article splash. Wuz up with dat? /sigh

  • Remember! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WPIDalamar ( 122110 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @08:51AM (#21610897) Homepage
    Remember to write your congressmen.

    Both in opposition to this bill and to state you general feelings that copyright law has become too broad and too far in favor of big media companies.

    Do it now, email is good, paper is better.
  • Just more evidence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GoMMiX ( 748510 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @08:51AM (#21610901)
    That our government is owned by corporations. What a surprise.
  • WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tritonman ( 998572 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @08:55AM (#21610925)
    OMG this is (*&#$% scary, the last thing we need is another above-the-law government organization. We've already seen that the CIA is now above the law with their news of destroying evidence of torture that they previously said did not exist.
  • blackmail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by midnighttoadstool ( 703941 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @08:57AM (#21610933)
    With such disproportiate laws, particularly of seizure, innocent US citizens are now wide open to black-mail.

    A determined enemy only has to have a few minutes access to your computer, download a few songs and then report you.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Friday December 07, 2007 @08:57AM (#21610937) Journal

    GOP was in charge of Congress, /. we all saw their name-party plastered in the article splash. Congress is now in Democrat control and suddenly, no Name-Party is being posted on the article splash.

    Maybe you should try to RTFA? Let me help you out:

    "A bipartisan group of Congressmen (and one woman) yesterday introduced a major bill"

    Show me the majority of the Republicans opposing this bill and you'll have a point. Until then, I'm going with "Congress is clueless and sucks" as a generalized statement of how I feel about this.

  • by beavis88 ( 25983 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @08:59AM (#21610953)
    What you fucking imbeciles don't realize is that the people pirating your movies WOULD NOT PAY FOR THEM OTHERWISE (mostly because they're shit, but that's really beside the point here). But no, dickbeats like Glickman parade their made up and meaningless numbers in front of the largest congregation of dickbeats on the face of the earth (hello, US Congress!), they have a big circle jerk, and come up with some abominable brainchild of a bill like this one. Sigh. If the terrorists haven't won already, they probably deserve to. They don't even have to take our freedom, we're just selling it off a piece at a time.
  • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Friday December 07, 2007 @08:59AM (#21610959) Journal

    OMG this is (*&#$% scary, the last thing we need is another above-the-law government organization

    "the last thing we need is another government organization"

    There, fixed that for you.

  • by Negatyfus ( 602326 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:00AM (#21610963) Journal
    Am I the only one that thinks the USIPER acronym eerily sounds like "usurper?" That's exactly what this is starting to look like.
  • Re:Remember! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cliffski ( 65094 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:04AM (#21610993) Homepage
    Why is it specifically in favour of 'Big' media companies? What is it that prevents this also helping out small media companies, and even individuals who create copyrighted works?
    It seems that anti-copyright campaigners would much rather portray every copyright owner as being like Madonna, prince or Metallica, rich and arrogant, rather than the reality, which is that the vast majority of copyright holders by number are very small or one-man companies.
    if you are an average-wage magazine column writer, copyright law helps protect you from being ripped off. If you are an author, musician or other content creator, the copyright law also helps protect you. the fact that the law also protects some big clueless, evil bastards that none of us like does not mean we should throw out the law. Laws against violence also protect politicians and business people that we hate, that doesn't mean the whole idea of those laws is bad too.

    Copyright law needs to be clarified and reformed. But it also needs to be enforced. Writing to your elected representative is the correct way to achieve sensible laws. Breaking the law so you can watch spiderman 3 for free proves their point, not yours.
  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:12AM (#21611045) Journal

    How legal is it to make a law that will actually cause the majority of law-abiding citizens to become criminals

    Very [].

    What if more than 50% of the people illegally download music, shouldn't the law then be repealed

    That argument hasn't seemed to work very well for marijuana legalization so I kind of doubt it's going to work here :(

    Whatever happened to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

    I don't know if I buy downloading music off the net for free as essential to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". I definitely think the punishments for doing so are way out of line with the severity of the crime though. And "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" went out the window when the Government decided it could tell [] me what I can and can not put into my body. It went out the window when the Government decided to try and regulate [] what we can do in the privacy of our own bedrooms. It went out the window when the Government decided to compel people to register for selective service at 18 but deny them the right to legally purchase alcohol until 21.

  • Re:Remember! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:12AM (#21611047) Homepage Journal
    You know what happens with every single new government entity? They feel the need to justify their existence. 3 guesses how these guys would try to accomplish that. We already have laws for these things. Enforcement on a digital system *is not possible* with out invading our privacy or crippling our hardware.

  • WTO Membership (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:12AM (#21611049) Homepage Journal
    If you are a member of the trade union, the ip cops will come and shove it up yours, as being a separate sovereign nation wont mean diddly.

    Man this is scary. Just the very idea of federal government running around to arrest people on a CIVIL issue where the burden of proof is ( basically ) reversed is frightening and completely contray to the constitution. WTF ?!?!
  • Cool. Another War (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:14AM (#21611061)
    First we had the WAR ON DRUGS
    Then we had the WAR ON TERROR
    Now we have the WAR ON COPYING

    Funded by the taxpayer of course.
  • by superwiz ( 655733 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:14AM (#21611065) Journal

    Am I the only one that thinks the USIPER acronym eerily sounds like "usurper?" That's exactly what this is starting to look like.

    Please, stand by for questioning.

    In destroying one, two or 10 of them, we are doing the work of millions. That's why our hand must not tremble, why we must march across the corpses of the enemy toward the good of the people. -- Joseph Stalin

    Because remember that "Goals (if noble) justify the means".
  • by Cjays ( 866936 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:16AM (#21611069)
    It also almost rhymes with "Lucifer."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:23AM (#21611153)
    I did but U-SPIER also fits
  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:30AM (#21611213) Journal
    I don't even see how having that will even help their sales...

    Their problem is that they're still living in a society where we had:
    - No Internet.
    - No home cinema systems.
    - No media centers.

    Many today don't even want to go to the cinemas because they think it's noisy and with annoying people in front of them, or even people telling about the events in the movie or constantly laughing at bad places. Or maybe they just want to easily go to the bathroom when they wish during a LOTR-like movie marathon. So then they pirate stuff instead of just twiddling their thumbs with a useless 50" home cinema system until the artificially delayed DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD release is made, usually also with artifically imposed regional restrictions.

    I mean, there's a whole new field of technology at play here that completely seem to pass them. They still seem to think we are sitting on: a mix of cassette, vinyl, and CD players, and on CRT TV sets. That's what their business model is still geared for. And people today barely even own these relics anymore. They use the media in totally different ways than before.
  • by Fizzl ( 209397 ) <fizzl.fizzl@net> on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:30AM (#21611221) Homepage Journal
    If this is ever actually implemented, I would taunt the motherfuckers to try and come "seize" me and whatever infringing media machine I might be using. At some point a man has to say "enough" and defend himself with violence from absurd laws.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:33AM (#21611251)
    Lets' see.....

    There's no money for fixing schools. My property taxes have gone way up due to the fact the Current Administration is cutting school aid nationwide. Lucky for my kids we are in a rich area so the parents can still pay.

    We are pissing away cubic dollars in Iraq on a scheme to keep Iraqi oil off the market, protect OPEC, and keep prices high.

    But, we can set up an entire law enforcement apparatus to protect the richest industry on the planet ? Oops, almost forgot, that industry also owns the media outlets (thank you FCC for allowing mass ownership of media) which the wankers rely upon to be re elected.

    Corporate America has gotten just about every Christmas Present it wanted under the Bush Administration. The Bankruptcy Bill was the first shot. Next, continue to subsidize Oil and Gas companies. Make sure that all worker protections, or public protection, is de-fanged, or given to the person who used to lobby against it. Flat top mountains in West Virginia. Allow utilities to continue to build 1950's era generation plants.

    Meanwhile, block stem cell research, push "abstinence", and raise the prices of contraception for poor women while making abortion less available.

    Bush was honest, once, when he stood before a gathering of huge corporate benefactors, and said "Some call you the elite...I call you my base".

    Next up....roadside execution for speeding.
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:39AM (#21611333)
    Corporations are people too!

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:39AM (#21611339)
    If this is ever actually implemented, I would taunt the motherfuckers to try and come "seize" me and whatever infringing media machine I might be using. At some point a man has to say "enough" and defend himself with violence from absurd laws.

    That this post is a terrorist threat. Now they won't even have to pretend to treat you fairly. ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:40AM (#21611345)
    I state they should be pouring their money into cooperative international assistance on catching paedophiles, mas murderers etc, not this glamorised hollywood bullshit, why do we never hear about big investments and new bills pushing REAL issues the tax paying public actually WANT dealing with.
    What's that you say? oh yeah, no fat corporate pig scared shitless it's on it's last legs is footing major bills to pay for improvments to REAL law and order.
  • by Chris Pimlott ( 16212 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:48AM (#21611431)

    The MPAA, for one. MPAA head Dan Glickman, in a statement praising the new bill, said that "films left costs foreign and domestic distributors, retailers and others $18 billion a year,"

    I had a hard parsing Glickman's quote until I realized what he probably meant was "film theft costs ..."
  • Re:Remember! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sen.NullProcPntr ( 855073 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:49AM (#21611445)

    Why is it specifically in favour of 'Big' media companies?
    Because, currently (in the US) [], an individuals copyright is good for life plus 70 years! (Sounds more like a prison sentence than something good;-) For a corporation the copyright is for either 120 or 95 years.
    How does having a work protected by the government for years after the creator has passed on benefit anyone other than a corporation that is feeding off the works of others?

    if you are an average-wage magazine column writer, copyright law helps protect you from being ripped off. If you are an author, musician or other content creator, the copyright law also helps protect you. the fact that the law also protects some big clueless, evil bastards that none of us like does not mean we should throw out the law.
    Only a few nuts are suggesting we should totally repeal or ignore the copyright laws.

    Writing to your elected representative is the correct way to achieve sensible laws.
    Yes, and we need a lot of letters to counteract the bags of $$ that 'Big' media companies are providing to said elected representatives. Copyright laws may protect the little guy but the little guy is not the one that is demanding that the government get involved in stepped up enforcement.
  • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <ardrake79@gm a i> on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:51AM (#21611455) Homepage
    "What you fucking imbeciles don't realize is that the people pirating your movies WOULD NOT PAY FOR THEM OTHERWISE (mostly because they're shit, but that's really beside the point here)."

    TRANSLATION: A movie is "shit" only when you have to pay for it. Otherwise it's a justified use of bandwidth (downloading it), storage (burn it to media), and maybe even time (watching it).

    When you're armed with little more than those bullshit, hypocritical arguments, you really aught not be surprised when your opponents don't take you seriously.

    Go away. You aren't doing any serious, rational opponents of the MPAA any favors.
  • by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @09:51AM (#21611459)
    You STILL think to narrow.
    And your argument is a bit of a strawman.

    The real point is: Money in = Money out, in the long term.
    We have a many-multi billion video games market. We have the rise of cell-phones/ringtones/ect, which suck enormous amounts of spare income out of the 15-23 target group. All that money obviously is missing somewhere else.

    People might spend less money on music because of the internet, not because they download it instead, but the fact that those 50$ cable/dsl/flatrate fee are just missing somewhere else.

    And nowadays, a lot of people find better things to do with their time in the web/blogosphere/ect than fullfilling their old role as mindless media consumers.

    And ultimately, people who have money to spend are time-limited (as opposed to the typical teenagers that have tons of time, but not the money, and create "no loss" piracy. Or do you think that timmy would have bought those 3500 albums and 700 games he downloaded from piratbay?
  • Re:Remember! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:00AM (#21611537)
    "What is it that prevents this also helping out small media companies, and even individuals who create copyrighted works?"

    Your naivety, apparently. If you haven't noticed, privately owned copyright and patents are nearing their death door. Just about every company you can work these days claims they own the ideas while they're still in your head, and prevents you from implementing them on your own time with non-competes. Music companies acquire ownership (note: ownership, not license) to your media once you attempt to publish it using their network (which, to be honest, is the only real way of distributing media these days thanks to an anti-competitive oligopoly's reign on the industry).

    Things have changed since the 1900s when people still owned the songs they wrote, when people wouldn't get sued for playing a song in a restaurant, when companies didn't sue anonymous people and win time and time again. Being naive and thinking bad laws like these make absolutely any sense is just making the problem worse, not better.
  • Re:Remember! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m2943 ( 1140797 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:01AM (#21611547)
    Why is it specifically in favour of 'Big' media companies?

    Because big media companies get to write it.

    What is it that prevents this also helping out small media companies, and even individuals who create copyrighted works?

    As one of those people, I can tell you that it does not help me.

    Copyright law needs to be clarified and reformed.

    Copyright should not be clarified and reformed, it should be taken back to its original design: about 20 years protection, required explicit registration, and no protection on content that has DRM applied to it. That's what copyright is.

    The bullshit that passes as "coypright law" today is legalized extortion.
  • Re:Remember! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raddan ( 519638 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:10AM (#21611645)
    Big media companies are the only ones who have the resources to police their works. Do you think the FBI would even notice if people started illegally distributing my software? Even if I made a stink about it, claimed that this was 'millions of dollars of loss' to me, do you think they would care? Now what if Disney does the same thing? The FBI listens to Disney.

    Sure, I agree, copyright is a good thing. But what we have now is insane. Copyright lasts for the lifetime of the author, plus 70 years. That's essentially in perpetuity, because the public that is alive today, and likely their children and even grandchildren, will never see those works enter the public domain. I can buy an argument that works should remain copyrighted for the lifetime of the author (although I personally do not believe it should be this way), but an additional seventy years? Who does this benefit? Let's see... something that never dies... er, not vampires... Highlander? Oh, right! A big media company!

    I don't argue for people making an honest living. But when you've got the government pulling Gestapo shit for the big hitters, that's not honest. That's fascist.
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:22AM (#21611765)
    I agree, but you know, if I truly believed Congress was simply uninformed on these important issues, but still had the best of intentions (road to Hell being paved with them notwithstanding) I might be more understanding. Fact is, these bastards (and bitch) know exactly what they're doing, know perfectly well that they're wronger than wrong ... but are going ahead with it anyway! That's when they cross the line from being clueless to actually evil.

    This law is being bought and paid for by big media, like so many other "IP friendly" laws already on the books, meaning that once again we've been sold out by our elected leaders. There are countries where such corporate influence (read: corruption) is illegal, and is considered the treason that it is. It's high time time we start thinking of lobbying and (ahem!) "campaign contributions" in exactly the same way. Feel like peddling your influence to pass a law that goes directly against the best interests of the American people? Hope you can do the time. That's how it should be.

    This is just sickening. I have the feeling we're not that far from Joe Public taking serious notice of this, because if the Feds start breaking down doors looking for bootleg videos there's gonna be Hell to pay. The media outfits are just drunk with power ... they got their copyright extensions, they got the DMCA ... now they want the Feds to start cracking heads on their behalf? They are going to push this too far, because they don't seem able to stop, able to accept any limits on what they should be allowed to do. They should be happy with what they have: this is going to explode and the backlash is not going to be pretty. The Federal Government is really pushing a lot of the American people's buttons lately. Something is going to have to give.
  • by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:45AM (#21612005) Journal

    TRANSLATION: A movie is "shit" only when you have to pay for it. Otherwise it's a justified use of bandwidth (downloading it), storage (burn it to media), and maybe even time (watching it).

    It's called elasticity. When the price rises above a negligible amount, a lot of people will no longer consume this particular good. As for the "costs" you mention: A) people are already paying for bandwidth - it doesn't cost them anything extra to download a movie as opposed to letting their connection sit idle; B) burn it to media? who does that?; C) we're posting on /. - clearly our time isn't that valuable :-)

  • Re:WTF (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:47AM (#21612031) Journal
    Besides, I'll bet the federal courts strike this law down as being unconstitutional.

    And, for some reason you think that will stop them? It's just a goddamn piece of toilet paper to the politicians you elect, and apparently to the people that vote for them. Your money is not backed up by gold (not that it means anything), and much worse, your constitution is not backed up by guns. Quite the opposite now. And these people will be re-elected, further convincing them they have a mandate. Okay well maybe some of the republicans do. If you know what I mean. Do the world a favor. Keep your damn cops on your side of the border. In fact you should be locking many of them up in prison! You people are creating hell on earth. So nice to see you have your priorities in place. You are out of control. I sure wish I had a way of protecting myself. Merely shooting back won't work. We need something a bit more permanent. Have a little respect, and keep your hands to yourself.

    ...And all of you outside the US have a common enemy. You need to quit fighting each other and put up some feeble effort to stop this kind of crap. BAH! it's hopeless. May as well face it, we're fucked. You're creating a prison planet. Thanks everybody!

    (infringing content)
    Welcome to my nightmare
    I think you're gonna like it
    I think you're gonna feel that you belong
    We sweat laugh and scream here
    'cuz life is just a dream here
    You know inside you feel right at home here
    Welcome to my nightmare
    Welcome to my breakdown

    (/infringing content)
  • by Un1v4c ( 226792 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:53AM (#21612107) Homepage
    Well if you pick a date, just let me know. I'll need to schedule some vacation time at work, and then I need to find a babysitter for the kids.
    I've got American Idol scheduled on the DVR, so maybe we'll have a viewing party after we're done usurping the government.

  • by Brass Cannon ( 882254 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:09AM (#21612329)
    Ayn Rand once wrote, "It's difficult to rule a society of honest men. So if there aren't enough criminals, we will simply write more laws."

    Is this a law that is meant to stop you from downloading music or is it meant to be broken so that the people whom it "protects" can have some power over you?
  • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Technician ( 215283 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:14AM (#21612377)
    Pffft. Lots of luck with government enforcement, especially when just about everyone is doing it. Don't they get it?

    For those who think "I don't copy copyrighted material so I'm immune" should think again.

    Have you ever right clicked on a webpage and picked "Save Photo As..."??

    Congratulations you have committed a copyright violation unless the owner explicitly gave permission. This goes beyond simply making available on P-P. If you have copyrighted stuff on your computer without the copyright owners permission, you are in violation.

    Finding infringers is as simple as finding computers.

    Just where did your desktop art come from? Saved any photos from a news story? NASA photo? Clipped any text? The top part of my post is directly cut and pasted from another author. I didn't ask permission. Is it fair use?
  • by Jtheletter ( 686279 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:19AM (#21612459)
    Currently we have seen that the costs for sharing only a handful of MP3s can be as much as a quarter million dollars or more after legal fees. How does anyone think that increasing fines to a half million and including jail time will be any more of a deterrent? Financial ruin was already nearly guaranteed if one was caught, if that isn't enough to scare the thousands (millions?) of file sharers then it is unlikely this will. We might also see a blow-back effect similar to when penalties for violent crimes are raised to maximum levels. e.g. if one gets life in prison for rape or murder then it induces some rapists to kill their victims since the sentence is the same and killing the victim might make it less likely to be caught. The parallel would be if you're going to be financially wiped out and sent to prison for sharing ONE song, why not simply share hundreds? You're screwed either way.

    Also this brings copyright infringement from a civil tort to a criminal charge. Change of venue to courts already overburdened by America's various other "War on $CONCEPT". And why should this be a criminal offense? The system was already out of balance in favor of the copyright holder, this law would make it egregiously so. If Congress is willing to reduce copyright limits to *reasonable* lengths then maybe it would make sense, but as it stands now almost nothing created in my parent's lifetime will become public domain for me before I die. Copyright is supposed to offer limited protection in return for the work passing to public domain. If it essentially never enters public domain then why should it be protected by criminal penalties? It's like shooting someone for shoplifting, completely out of scope with both the crime and the supposed bargain between the public and copyright holders.

    Also in regards to some posts saying that this law protects all equally and is not skewed in favor of large corporations, I must disagree. Large corporations could afford a judgment against them brought successfully by an individual, it would not go so well the other way around. The inherent imbalance between the resources (financial, legal and manpower) of a corporation and an individual pretty much guarantee an individual will be forced to cut a deal or risk their livelihood and freedom while a corporation could stall for years and even if convicted would be able to recover almost instantly.
  • Re:WTF (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ari wins ( 1016630 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:30AM (#21612593)
    (iii) Any property used, or intended to be used, to commit or substantially facilitate the commission of an offense under subsection (a).

    Lead Investigator: "Son, we have your computer, your program discs, all your accessories, but I still don't feel like we've grabbed everything. Oh, wait a minute. I see a Tivo, you've probably hacked that huh. Oh, and is that a Discman over there? We can't have you outputting that to the tape deck on your radio. In fact, you could use this radio to steal music. Better grab that too."

    Noob IP Officer: "Sir, you better come over here and take a look at this."

    Lead Investigator: "Good Lord! This notebook contains pages and pages of drawings and random doodling. We better take this with us to make sure none of it is covered under IP. Officers, scour this house and remove all writing devices!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:49AM (#21612905)
    Nancy Pelosi: can't do a damn thing she promised to the voters, but can deliver for the MAFIAA.

    Ain't it ironic that the Dems in congress are now saying the US has to leave Iraq because the Iraqi government can't get its act together and get something done?
  • Not Satisfied (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:03PM (#21613141)
    Not satisfied with pitiful potential penalties of $150,000

    The reason they are not satisfied has nothing to do with a perception of how extreme the punishments should be. The reason they are not satisfied is very simple:

    It's not working.

    The complete collection of laws, technologies, and enforcement agencies that presently exist are failing to stop the widespread practice of copyright infringement. Given that the industry controllers are stuck in the past, they are doing the only thing they know how to do: pass even more laws, make even more enforcement agencies, and make the punishments even worse.

    As much as we would like to see the dinosaurs roll over and die...they don't want to. They will struggle for life, and have no qualms about causing as much waste, suffering and injustice as they can in the process.

    To the RIAA/MPAA: The new world is here. You can't bring the past back. Your attempts at forcing your values on to your clients cannot succeed. All you are doing is harming yourselves and everyone else. You will continue to experience nothing but failure until you embrace the world and harmonize with the technologies that exist and the ways in which your clients want to use them. That is all.
  • by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:41PM (#21613715)
    Individual states cannot secede. That was ultimately the point of the Civil War. The slavery issue was a smokescreen; the real issue was that the national government would not allow the states that formed the Confederacy to remove themselves from the Union.

    Which of course violates the premise of our government. I think that was the first major sign we were in trouble (of course allowing slavery was also wrong). If a free people can choose to form a government to protect their rights, surely they are free to disolve it?

    More broadly, the entire idea of state sovereignty (i.e. enumerated powers) has been emasculated. The federal government has the powers it says it has. In the good old days, they used to use the Interstate Commerce Clause to justify Federal intervention in matters Constitutionally delegated to the states; now, they rarely even bother.

    I think that largely happened when the Sentate become elected instead of appointed by State legislatures. I think its time we reverse that, and we may see states start reigning in the federal goverment.
  • Re:Remember! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2.earthshod@co@uk> on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:57PM (#21613977)
    The problem is that certain parties are trying to apply economic laws from the old Age of Scarcity to the new Age of Plenty.

    Such measures are doomed to failure from the outset: they can never succeed. Record companies only existed because the equipment required to manufacture records was prohibitively expensive for the common person. Actually, in the 78rpm days, there were still small independent record companies (and an artist could record for more than one label). It was the 45 that killed them all off; only big conglomerates could afford the cost of retooling to press 45s, and many small labels were bought out by larger concerns.

    Nowadays, recorded music is not scarce. Once a song has been sung, a potentially infinite number of copies can be made. Unless you could find a way of charging per listen (and it's not possible; the costs of trying will always outweigh the benefits) then the best you could hope for is to hold the initial audience to ransom, insisting for an up-front payment before a recording is released; and swallow the fact that that's the last time you're going to make any money from it. But, of course, other people manage like that ..... builders don't keep getting paid every time someone walks into a house they built, electricians don't keep getting paid every time someone turns on a light they wired, car mechanics don't keep getting paid every time someone drives a car they mended, plumbers don't keep getting paid every time someone flushes a toilet they plumbed in, double glazing installers don't keep getting paid every time someone looks out of a window they fitted ..... for that matter, even heart surgeons don't keep getting paid every time a heart they fitted makes a beat ..... and the crazy thing is, they all seem to manage.

    Not to mention that there are builders / car mechanics / heart surgeons out there who could belt out a tune far better than most of today's manufactured bands could build a house / strip down an engine / perform a triple bypass operation .....
  • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @01:26PM (#21614385)

    You've just only come to the realization that copyright laws are by definition internally inconsistent and illogical?

    This is because the whole notions of copyright and information as "private property" are at odds with the nature of information itself, which lacks the necessary attributes to be "private property".

    And so convoluted, idiotic "laws" are made by greedy, deluded people to try to make the impossible happen. Exceptions upon self-contradictions upon stupidity.

    The idea is akin to trying to make gravity illegal, followed by elaborate sets of rules about which objects you are alowed to lift and how high you feet are supposed to go when walking, all in the effort to maintain a silly illusion which pads someone's pockets.

    There is also a side-effect, desirable by some powermongers, and that is the fact that such "laws" make everyone a criminal, subject to whim of "interpretation" by governmental agencies and politically appointed "justice" departaments. Such as the one the GP mentioned. Pictures in the cache of your web browser are definitely copies (amongst many other stages of processing in your computer) and are identical to pictures you saved yourself, differing only (possibly) in the location where they were saved. Yet the latter is, by definition, a copyright violation, while the first one is one of those, arbitrary, whimsical, "exceptions". "Yes, the gravity does not exist and to prove it you should maintain a state of floatation at least 17 inches off the ground! With the exception of 'Joy periods' whereby you are allowed to kick the planet Earth, but no more frequently then once a second!"

    The sooner you realize that information, including thoughts in your head and large integer numbers, unlike physical objects does not fit the primitive, animalistic desire of some to fence it off and sit on it growling "Mine! All Mine! Back off!" with spittle flying, the better.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @03:01PM (#21615749)
    The south, champion of States' Rights, was 'zerged FTW' by the North, who after getting the snot beaten out of it for three years, kept importing all the Irishmen and other foreigners they could, and put them under the command of a man who realized the confederate armies were the objective, not the cities.

    I'm not so sure about this interpretation of history. The way I remember it, the North's army was initially commanded by a complete moron (McClellan?) who had no idea how to command an army in battle, and unsurprisingly lost many battles until he was finally replaced. General Grant was a far better commander, who won the war for the North. However, it wasn't just imported soldiers that made the difference: the North was far more industrialized than the South, which had a totally agricultural economy. Industrialization is very important when you're trying to conduct a large-scale war, as that's what builds your guns, cannons, trains, etc. In the end of the War, the South was shooting rocks out of their cannons, because they didn't have any cannonballs left.

    I think the South was ultimately doomed to lose the war for exactly this reason; they didn't have the economic and industrial capacity to carry it out, and their economy was in trouble anyway. The only way they could have kept it going would have been to engage in terrorist tactics like we see today (like in Northern Ireland, Iraq, etc.), rather than having uniformed troops fighting on battlefields, which is a losing proposition when you're a weaker force.

    However, the decision by the North to fight the war was definitely the wrong one, IMO. Just as the States voluntarily entered the Union, they should have the right to voluntarily leave the Union. It doesn't matter what the economic impact or whatever will be: it's their choice, for better or worse. The slavery issue was definitely a smokescreen; while slavery is certainly wrong, it was already headed for extinction, as most other developed countries at the time had banned it, and with the South's economy already headed for the toilet, and popular opinion turning away from slavery, slavery was on its last legs anyway. If the North had just allowed the Southern states to secede, their economies would have collapsed before long; they probably would have asked to rejoin the union at a later time, and we probably wouldn't see such an overbearing and bloated Federal government now.
  • by sbillard ( 568017 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @04:18PM (#21616811) Journal
    ... as intellectual property (IP).

    An idea, thought, or piece of information cannot be "property". If it isn't tangible, it isn't property.

    To demonstrate, tell me something about yourself. How about first name and place of birth?
    OK, got it. Thanks Wally from Walla Walla.
    I now have some new IP.
    Hey Wally, have you forgotten your name or place of birth? No. Of course you haven't.

    Therein lies the problem with IP. It can be freely copied and is limitless in supply. You can't maintain a marketplace or sustain an economy without the basic principle of supply vs. demand, at least not one we're familar with. Throw out every economics book you've ever read. These artifical restrictions on supply are a joke. You think China or the 3rd world gives a damn about our IP, copyright, trademark, or patent laws?

    Will Firefly's "Chinglish" be good enough to communicate with our new landlords?
  • Re:Communism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2007 @05:50PM (#21618137)
    You're deeply confused, actually. FOSS is essentially libertarian, a partial restoration of a free market in some information (computer programs) by legal ju-jitsu.

    Copyright monopolies derive straight from marxist labour-theory-of-value thinking: "Things are worth the work put into them. We must reward the artists for their work. Those poor starving artists, who could never prosper in a free market undistorted by copyright monopoly". They are thus arch-socialist inventions, and despite the propaganda term "intellectual property", designed to suggest capitalism, are nearly as far as one can get from the ideals of real free-market capitalism (see: Hayek) as one can get.

    Some people are also confused by some surface similarity with regard to the "free sharing" aspect of FOSS. But that's very different to the communist "to each according to their needs, from each according to their ability" - in the FOSS case (a) it's a simple recognition that the good in question (a copy of some information) is just plain too cheap to charge for, once shorn of the artificial scarcity of copyright monopolies. Unlike communism, you're not _obliged_ to distribute FOSS if you don't want to. You can just use it (with the possible exception of the contentious GPLv3). GPLv2 and most other "considered FOSS" licenses only kick in on distribution.

    And (b) remember, there "is no from" anyway! - if I give you a copy, I can retain my copy anyway. I don't lose anything by giving you a copy. Fundamentally different to the state seizing and redistributing crops I've grown - if the state does that, I lose those crops...

    We should stop pandering to the copyright supporters. It's demonstrably not the case that they're the only people capable of creating or who currently create stuff (a fallacy I commonly see amongst both artists and pharma corps - they seem to think that just because they won't work without monopoly grants, no-one would, and that if they stop creating, nothing will be created. Demonstrably, empirically falsified many times over. But such arrogance and vanity is common among them.)
  • Re:Remember! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @02:13AM (#21621817) Homepage
    I agree except for the required explicit registration.

    Well, it's absolutely essential.

    Every time you make a new blog post, you have to register?

    Yes, if you want a copyright on the post. Remember, public policy is to use copyrights as an incentive to get authors to create and publish works that otherwise would not have been created or published. If the work would have been created and published anyway, there's no reason for the public to grant a copyright; we benefit more from having the work in the public domain. Of course, there's no way to know precisely which category any given work falls into. But a registration system lets the authors tell us, more or less.

    Basically, if an author thinks that he can exploit a copyright on his work to make money, and the amount of money is more than if the work was in the public domain, and enough to outweigh the cost of getting the copyright (which is cheap), then he will probably take action to get a copyright. This means he is probably in the first category above: authors who are incentivized by copyright as to that work. OTOH, if the author thinks that the cost of the copyright outweighs the benefits that he will accrue as a result, he'll probably not bother to get a copyright. This means he is probably in the second category: authors who aren't incentivized by a copyright as to that work.

    It's a little imprecise, but lacking a bunch of psychics working for the Copyright Office, there does not seem to be a better solution that grants copyrights where needed, but does not grant them to excess.

    So long as copyright registration is cheap (it already is) and simple (it already is) then we're fine. It just needs to be mandatory for anyone who wants a copyright.

    I bet that you would have written your blog posts even if blog posts were utterly uncopyrightable. Copyrights probably are not an incentive to you. So why should you get any? Why should the public pay for the cow, if the milk is free?

    Every time a live sports broadcast is on TV they have to register? Before the game happens, when there's no footage to copyright? Or do thy register after it's transmitted, and therefore can't protect it because ti wasn't under copyright when it was broadcast? Or maybe we just wouldn't get live games on TV any longer.

    Easy solution, akin to what we do with patents: You get a little while -- one year, perhaps -- to register from the date of first publication (which would be expanded to cover things like broadcasts). So go ahead and transmit the live footage, and just remember to mail in a copy, along with the form, and a small check, before the deadline expires. To encourage swift registrations, though, which is in the public interest, we might tie major protections of the work to the date the application was submitted, and actionability to the date the registration issued.

    Besides, the US is a signatory country on the Berne Convention. That requires copyright upon entering into a fixed format.

    Well, you know how the most popular criticism of US copyright law is that it lasts too long? Well everyone who wants a term of less than life+50 or 75 years necessarily supports the US withdrawing from the Berne Convention, because otherwise it can't happen. For example, you appear to support abandoning Berne. Berne was, and is, a terrible idea. The sooner we're rid of it, the better. It is total crap.

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein