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FBI Prioritizes Copyright Over Missing Persons 372

An anonymous reader writes "The FBI has limited resources, so it needs to prioritize what it works on. However, it's difficult to see why dealing with copyright infringement seems to get more attention than identity theft or missing persons. In the past year, the FBI has announced a special new task force to fight intellectual property infringement, but recent reports have shown that both identity theft and missing persons have been downgraded as priorities by the FBI, to the point that there are a backlog of such cases."
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FBI Prioritizes Copyright Over Missing Persons

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  • by md65536 ( 670240 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:06PM (#33210712)

    If there were a missing persons industry, then we could assign an imaginary and excessive value to "loss of profits" due to missing persons. Then they could be considered as valuable as a CD, and the FBI could put more effort into investigating.

  • by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:10PM (#33210738)

    There's an industry of making people go missing in Colombia... I hear its fairly profitable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:12PM (#33210754)

    The economy is shit precisely because of intellectual property. China will never buy IP - why would they? They can pirate all they want as US police have no jurisdiction. So anyone who produces IP, instead of things that can be exported, represents a net loss of wealth to the country - they take money *only* from other Americans, while spending that money all over the world.

  • Re:Actually... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:20PM (#33210814) Homepage

    Of course, the law of property -- at least for everything beyond what the owner can personally defend against the world by means of force -- is also one of limited and artificially constructed grants of rights. Which isn't to say that copyrights are a branch of property law, but rather that property rights are just as artificial.

  • Re:Better Idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by catmistake ( 814204 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:28PM (#33210884) Journal

    Every person should be copyrighted

    Like a number of slashdotters, I was a shy kid. I didn't like birthdays at all, because on that day, I hated being the center of attention. I didn't like being looked at, and I espescially didn't like posing for photographs, or anyone taking my picture or a video of me. And I thought I came up with a great solution. I must have been like 12, but the idea was, I would copyright my likeness, my voice, and my story, everything that made me what I am, and then, in theory, I could control the flow of information about me. Ultimately, I felt, no one could even legally look at me, because to do so, one would have to collect photons that bounced off me, and recreate a likeness of me upside down on their retina, thus violating my copyright. But in the years since I learned something about the law... just because something is possible with the law, it doesn't matter... the law is there for convention. Only convention, that is, what all those concerned with the law agree upon is ok, then it's ok. So... it's ok to punch someone in the face without fear of prosecution... so long as their not rich. It's ok to jail someone for years before trial, because it's done... effectively punishing them before conviction. It's quite effective. Any one that comes up with something very clever and useful in law is going to lose their credibility, no matter how honest they are. The retards run this place. Just go about your business and hope no one notices you.

  • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ratboy666 ( 104074 ) <> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:43PM (#33210970) Journal

    Reading the article and some of the fine links (note that quotes are marked, but not attributed) -- to quote one (on identify theft):

    "Identity theft is on the rise nationwide, yet in a report released Tuesday, federal investigators lament that the Department of Justice's (DOJ) efforts to combat such crimes have to some degree "faded as priorities."

    According to the DOJ's Office of the Inspector General (IG), many of the suggestions pitched in 2006 by then-President George W. Bush's task force on identity theft have yet to be implemented fully. As of March, the agency had not even appointed an official to oversee those efforts, according to the report.

    Moreover, changes in how the FBI handles related investigations have resulted in an atmosphere in which "the specific crime of identity theft is not an FBI priority," investigators said."

    Now, Copyright violation is a civil matter, and identify theft is a crime:

    "Well, isn't this just great. Just a little while back, the Justice Department announced that fighting "intellectual property crime" was a major priority. At the time, we wondered if there weren't more important things for the DOJ to be working on. The answer is yes, of course, but the Justice Department has apparently decided to push them off the priority list. A new report on identity fraud notes that it has "faded" as a priority for the DOJ and the FBI. Ah, right, the stuff that actually harms individuals directly and isn't a civil or business model issue? Why focus on that when you can prop up your friends in Hollywood?"

    And, yes, the FBI has a horrible backlog (2 years, according to the OIG, if no new cases come in). So, why is the FBI investing in a private police force (for civil matters)? This is a new mission:

    "Attorney General Eric Holder Friday announced the creation of a Justice Department intellectual property task force to better tackle domestic and international piracy and other IP crimes. "The rise in intellectual property crime in the United States and abroad threatens not only our public safety but also our economic well being," Holder said in a statement. "This Task Force will allow us to identify and implement a multi-faceted strategy with our federal, state and international partners to effectively combat this type of crime."

    Is this not the very definition of prioritization? Yes, I would say that Copyright has been prioritized over missing persons. There was no need to create a Copyright private police force, and an acknowledged need to bolster DNA analysis.

  • Re:Actually... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:04PM (#33211096)
    You can state that as fact, just as Locke states the opposite. Hobbes vs. Locke, it appears.

    the grass my horse has bit; the turfs my servant has cut; and the ore I have digged in any place, where I have a right to them in common with others, become my property, without the assignation or consent of any body. The labour that was mine, removing them out of that common state they were in, hath fixed my property in them ... The only way whereby any one divests himself of his natural liberty, and puts on the bonds of civil society, is by agreeing with other men to join and unite into a community for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living one amongst another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties, and a greater security against any, that are not of it. ... The great and chief end, therefore, of men's uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property.

    ---Locke, ibid.

  • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:08PM (#33211140) Homepage Journal

    If there were a missing persons industry

    Human trafficking is big in the US [], bigger than you would expect, and it's flying under the radar.

  • Value of a person (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stimpleton ( 732392 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:18PM (#33211200)
    The monetary value of a person is known.

    I live in New Zealand. Emergency services here run helicoptors. Not just for the old cliche of plucking people of a cliff face, but also for car accidents and medical emergencies in non-urban areas. To provide perspective, a seriously injured person, just 20 minutes from a city may recieve helicoptor service for severe cases.

    What defines severe? Is it worth it to the taxpayer?

    About 12 years ago, a study was done to put a monetary cost to a citizen loosing their life. Presumably this factored loss of taxable income, consequences of earning potential of spouses, impact and costs to assist a dependant child.

    It was in the news even, and it ignited a moral debate. That cost to society was NZ$1,100,000.

    The point being, the cost of the helicoptor recovery was less than this, at about $5000 per hour.

    We can perhaps conclue the FBI has done some similar sums, but the poor individual has not fared so well in the cost/benefit analysis. Or someone high up has an interest in a copyright litigation practice.
  • Re:Actually... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:23PM (#33211234) Homepage

    To some degree I have to disagree with you in the sense that "property" has always existed and have always been defended by [threat of] force. Adding force of law behind it actually serves to limit the amount and type of force allowed when protecting one's property. In Texas, I can't shoot a man on my front porch, but I can shoot a man in my home. So if I shoot a man in my home and he flies out the door, I had best drag him back in before the police arrive. Also, if someone is outside messing with my car, I can't do much about it because the law prohibits force in that case. It also prohibits any protection method that may result in injury to a potential theif... so no electrocutions or gases or explosives or incediaries.

    So what you are looking at is actually the other way around as without property law, people would be permitted to defend their property with deadly force... and while that is still true, the circumstances are severely limited... by law.

  • Re:Actually... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by skywire ( 469351 ) * on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:24PM (#33211240)

    It is odd how "intellectual property" has come commonly to be misapplied to copyrighted works. I'm not sure whether it is due to an intentional propaganda campaign, or just careless speaking. The works themselves are not property. What is property is the copyright. So no, the argument is not whether ideas can be property. Even those who support copyright, if knowledgeable about the Constitution and the law, do not claim that ideas are property. I fully agree with you that a copyright is a limited and artificial monopoly, but it nonetheless bears all the characteristics of property (for which see any introduction to property law), however artificial and unjust you and I may agree it to be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:42PM (#33211326)

    Simple, accuse the missing person of copyright infringement, rat them out to the RIAA and MPAA,
    and you'll have them back in no time.

  • by AnAdventurer ( 1548515 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:45PM (#33211342)
    I tried to start a non-profit to find missing people. I got C&D letters from 4 states for my website as I sought start-up, even with clearly stating I did not have 503x status. Missing people is not good business. I was surprised I did not get a note from the FBI.
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:00PM (#33211462) Homepage

    So anyone who produces IP, instead of things that can be exported, represents a net loss of wealth to the country - they take money *only* from other Americans, while spending that money all over the world.

    What does the US economy more good - buying a movie made by Americans or buying cheap imports from China? Reducing imports by producing something valuable domestically is just as important as increasing exports if you want to reach a trade balance. There's plenty of rich left in the US, but pretty much the whole meat of the economy has been moved to China so there's nothing produced in the US worth buying and so the unemployment stays at 10%. Killing a "local" industry, even if it doesn't contribute to export only makes the situation worse.

    The real problem is that the US has a fairytale economy driven only by consumption and retail. Everything done to kick start the economy is about getting people to spend more money they don't have, because it creates the illusion of stability and recovery when the problem runs much deeper. The real problem is that retail outlets are worth very little to anyone else, they only have value as long as they serve people with money. And even those people still with a job should take note and realize they need a nest egg for a long and ugly unemployment, I find the consumer confidence astoundingly high given the circumstances. But then nobody saw the credit crunch coming to slap them silly either, so I guess they won't see the structural crisis either...

  • Re:Wrong (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:07PM (#33211490)

    However, the fact that they're increasing allocation to copyright means it obviously holds more importance. If it didn't, those same funds could be put to use elsewhere on what normal people would consider to be more important cases.

    Well, what normal people consider about reality is often in conflict with actual reality, so I'm not sure it matters.

    See, normal people are the same ones who voted for Proposition 8 in California. Who elect the same corrupt(ible) politicians over and over. Who do a lot of crap over and over.

    But people who put some thought into it, realize that the FBI, as well as other law enforcement agencies, are not going to accomplish any kind of complete clearance on what are considered the most despicable crimes, and they certainly aren't going to make the world better if they simply focus solely on one group to the exclusion of all others.

    This doesn't mean that we can't have them though.

    We just need to be realistic about them.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:32PM (#33211614) Journal

    The FBI exists to protect profits.

    Who still doesn't believe our government is being run by corporate power?

    As far back as the Franklin Roosevelt administration, in 1933, when it looked for a minute like the US government might actually start putting people ahead of corporate interests, a group of men, owners of some of our largest industries, including the grandfather of George W. Bush plotted to over throw and replace him with a pro-corporate Fascist regime. A rogue general, Douglas McArthur's name was floated as the leader of the new fascist regime. It became known as the "Business Conspiracy" or "The White House Putsch". It was later dismissed by the American Right as "just cocktail chatter" but enough evidence exists to give the story historical "legs".

    Now, of course, an easier way has been found to accomplish the same thing. A simple Supreme Court case giving corporations unlimited political power by creating a new entity, the non-human person. There was an attempt by the legislative branch to attenuate the effects of this unusual and precedent-breaking case, called the DISCLOSE Act, which would require corporations who spend these unlimited funds to identify themselves, as candidates currently do on their campaign ads, and it almost passed, but was filibustered by Republicans.

    It's an interesting story, the "corporate coup of 1933" with more than a few similarities to our current situation. A good book about it is Maverick Marine: General Smedley D. Butler and the Contradictions of American Military History by Hans Schmidt, University Press of Kentucky, ISBN 0-8131-0957-4.

  • Re:Value of a person (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dissy ( 172727 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:36PM (#33211632)

    Yahoo already taught us that one illegal download is equal in value to three and one third dead family members... []

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:59PM (#33211774) Journal

    We knew they weren't holding MIAs after WWII because we won the war and had boots on the ground. It would have been kinda hard to hold an American prisoner in Germany with GIs all over the place. Besides according to the stories my grandfather and great uncle told there was a reason why we had so many MIAs. It was because during the push across the Rhine the Germans, desperate to slow us down, actually used the FLAK 88 as an antipersonnel weapon, like a civil war cannon. Great Uncle Jerry said when a man was hit by a FLAK 88 all there was left was red mist, not even his boots survived that monster.

    As for TFA, can we stop the whole "We, The People" bullshit now and just change the anthem to "Money Talks" by AC/DC? It isn't like our elected officials are even pretending to give a shit anymore. It is just disgusting that a person's life would be deemed worth less than nabbing a fucking MP3 downloader. Just fucking shameful.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:16PM (#33211868)

    Even bad movies and pop music employ a lot of people; some would call that productive. Of course, the terms "bad movie", "pop music", and even "productive" are subjective, so your statement is essentially meaningless.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:52PM (#33212014)

    I have just an inkling that he was being sarcastic and being a narrator for big corporations' actual motives.

  • Re:Federalism 101 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @01:21AM (#33212352)
    okay, then please explain why when I contacted the FBI in regards to a violation of federal law, they hemmed and hawed about actually doing something about it. The only thing I could see that stood in their way was the fact that it was a company that had given money to US congressmen and would have taken a little effort on their part.
    I shit you not. Not in the least. It involved the transfer of technology to a foreign country in direct violation of a number of federal laws. There was an email that an officer of the company wrote clearly implicated himself and the company and had CC'ed the CEO.
    On another occasion, ( I don't know whether he was drunk or what, but I was there) the CEO said that he was assisting in the transfer of technology from a company in the US to one outside the US so that they could compete and do business with us. Basically so we could do business with both companies. So far I haven't seen any business from the second company. But there were inquiries into how the technology got out of the US, (but not from any government organization).
    But after working for a number of years in advanced technology, their appears to be very little interest/effort in securing advanced technology. Maybe because it is too complicated and difficult to prosecute.
    But I have grown very cynical of large numbers of people being held as terrorist, while I see military technology being handed over to a foreign countries.
    But I will say that the only ounce of prevention came when a large military contractor came to do business with us. They had brought some of their higher ups (Product/Divisin VP's) for a meeting/audit to discuss business. At the end of the meeting they said our connections will be a problem for us to do business with you. That's the last we heard of them.
    So I really think that copyright infringement should be one of the last things on their plate. But that's just me.
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @01:48AM (#33212466)

    There's no money in solving actual crimes. On the other hand, doing the dirty work of the MafiAA is a way to collect some kick-ass bribes.

    The entertainment industry is worth billions of domestic spending and export dollars. It is a labor-intensive and generates a lot of high wage - high skilled - jobs.

    It is important to the economies of states like New York, California, Florida and so on. The Senator from Nebraska votes wheat and corn. The Texan cattle and oil.

    Think interests not bribes.

  • by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <> on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @02:16AM (#33212556) Homepage Journal

    For quite a while, they have had significant interest in high dollar crimes, versus no dollar crimes. A missing person is a missing person. Unless they are a high profile person (celebrity, politician, or wanted fugitive in the media), there is little to no interest.

    I do recall a few instances (personal knowledge, not from the media) where there was a crime committed. They did involve a financial loss. About 15 years ago, the amount had to be greater than $3,000. About 4 or 5 years ago, the amount had to be greater than $6,500.

    If, for example, someone broke into a large network, which incurred a large dollar amount of damages (securing equipment, changes of company security protocol, recovery of lost data from backups, loss of income due to media coverage), that's a big deal. High dollar companies always donate well to political parties. While it makes the news that Company X donated to a particular politician, you'll likely find that they did the same to all politicians. Businesses don't usually gamble on anything as unpredictable as elections. They'll play all sides to ensure they are covered. Donations to the wrong people are just considered part of playing the game.

    Compare that to say a serial killer who has killed 3 people in the last 5 years, and those victims were not well politically tied to anyone. The interest level goes down to almost nil.

    There was a bit of activity regarding a known serial killer activity []. It likely involved 500 female victims. Wow, 500 women killed by serial killers, they'll surely put everyone they can on it. The last update was in 2009, and in 5 years there were 10 suspects in custody, suspected to be involved in 30 murders []. Have you heard any updates on this? "Suspects" in custody does not mean the killers are in custody. They're just people who they believe may be the killers. Meanwhile, the murders continue.

    It isn't due to mismanagement of resources exactly. Companies lean on their political "friends". The politicians then lean on the FBI, and the work gets done. While this should be considered mismanagement, the FBI is a government organization, and political pressures do come into play. Sure, if my company just lost $100 million dollars, I'd prefer the FBI take that over another case, but it shouldn't work that way. I, a multibillion dollar firm (I wish), may need to remind a few Congressmen that they are in office because of my huge donations, and my case will get priority.

    Political pressures aren't the only ones they are under. High profile media cases get handled differently. A friend of mine was a victim of a Nigerian scam. It was a high dollar case. First I laughed at them for being stupid. There was an exception to the normal case though. The scammer was still in communications with them, and they hadn't told the scammer that they figured out what happened. They called the local FBI field office, and their statement was taken. A couple weeks went by, and nothing had happened with the case.

    I pulled a couple strings, and I asked a media outlet to make a friendly request that it be looked at further. The media outlet was very friendly about it. They simply sent an email over saying "Please have a look at this. We understand the difficulties in prosecuting such a case. If you do manage to make an arrest, we would love to publish the story. If not, we won't run anything about it." They mentioned a bit more about the information on the case, and that the scammer was still in contact asking for more. My friend got a call at 9am from a FBI investigator, and they were at my friends house later that day (agreed upon by my friend). Emails between the parties were gathered (with consent, not warrants). My fir. A voluntary tap

  • by linzeal ( 197905 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @05:19AM (#33213090) Homepage Journal
    That is why the vast majority of money besides directly levied taxes does not come from criminal fines for murder/rape/molestation but DUIs/Speeding/Parking. In fact, some counties now depend on that money to operate because they have factored the money raised by these fines in their budgets and can even borrow against the future returns using crimes that have not been committed as collateral, and you thought government was here to protect you.
  • by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <<moc.xobreven> ... .vidavsxd54sals>> on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @11:32AM (#33215912) Homepage

    I'm glad someone else understand the problem. I don't know how to fix it either...I don't think encouraging spending is as pointless as you think, but that's simply because I have no other options.

    For the past three or so decades we've steadily been shipping jobs out while borrowing against everything we own so we can purchase stuff.

    It used to be US workers made something, and got paid via the profit on selling that, and with their paycheck they could purchase other stuff.

    Now it's the Chinese who make stuff, it's the rich who get the profit, and normal people buy stuff by having absurd mortgage that don't require them to pay anything...until they reset. Or they borrow on credit cards, or whatever.

    The rich, of course, like to pretend the reason we have no industry in this country is taxes, because, apparently, if we reduce taxes by 10%, companies will bring the jobs back and pay workers three times as much as they cost in China. Um, no.

    The solution to this is problem is get rid of the entire WTO and the treaties disallowing 'protectionism'.

    I'm all for free trade between countries with equal standards of living. If Canada can provide steel for cheaper than the US, fine...we can provide other stuff cheaper than they can, and it's the ciiiircle of liiiife...I mean, the circle of commerce. We can buy stuff from each other.

    But when the workers are being paid ten cents an hour, we need to check at custom and saying 'Well, okay, you owe us roughly enough to bring it up to minimum wage...oh, and you had them in an unsafe factory, so that's a rather large fine, and you appear to have them work 10 hours a day without a break, so another fine...'

    We need to make sure the cost of labor (and damage to the environment, and safety standards, and all sorts of things) is roughly the same for all goods sold here, or at least the minimum allowed here, whether or not they're made here. And, yes, companies would abuse that, and lobby the government to have their industry 'protected' from the evil competition of some German company that's just better than they are at making toasters...but, OTOH, they do that now, even though it's not allowed, and they also do the same thing via getting government subsidies. Saying 'corporations would get too much incentive to manipulate the government' is a bit like saying 'serial killers would get too much incentive to murder people'.

    And as an aside, I absolutely hate how copyright is in this country, and would like to see it altered to the near original terms, where you had to apply for it and it was for a much shorter period of time. I suspect that would do nothing to the production of's only in crazy-world that people produce a movie because the copyright is 90 years and thus they might coast on it the rest of their lives, vs. it only being 28 years so...they might coast on it most of their lives. People don't go 'Sure, doing that sounds great, but in three decades I'll stop making money from it, and then what?' We don't seem to need to provide these sort of 'lottery-like rich-for-the-rest-of-your-life incentives' to any other industry, and 95% of the time, the results would be no difference at all, as no money comes from stuff that old.

    Ad the remaining 5% of the time, when the thing is popular enough to be paid for 30 years later, well, those people have probably made enough to live comfortable on it after 28 years of profits...and it being in the public domain doesn't take away who they are, they're still the famous actor or the famous writer or whatever, they can probably easily find work. I mean, if the Beatles' copyright had expired by 1999, do we really think McCartney or, hell, Ringo, would be broke?

    So while I'm for US industry, I not only think our current copyright terms don't help it, I suspect they hurt it, because our public domain isn't growing any bigger.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"