Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Censorship The Internet News Politics

Rethinking How Congress Pushes Copyright Laws 228

pigrabbitbear writes "Lamar Smith just can't get a break. The Texas congressman and widely despised author of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) ruffled the Internet's feathers once again this week with the quiet unveiling of a new piece of legislation that's drawing criticism for being plucked out of SOPA's language and rushed through Congress. The Intellectual Property Attaché Act (IPAA) would streamline the process by which the U.S. protects its intellectual property by enforcing U.S. copyright law abroad through specially assigned diplomats or attachés. These officers would report to a new agency-level position, the Assistant Secretary for Intellectual Property and push agendas that, according to the bill's language, are 'consistent with the economic interests of the United States, both domestically and abroad.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Rethinking How Congress Pushes Copyright Laws

Comments Filter:
  • Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fredprado ( 2569351 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @12:45AM (#40635771)
    This way they can bypass the congress and do whatever they want through secret trade agreements like ACTA and TPP. Seriously, US citizens should lock these guys and throw away the keys. They are corrupt to the bone.
  • How? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @12:47AM (#40635777) Journal

    The problem is not how these laws are being pushed.
    The problem is the content of these copyright laws.

    Lamar Smith (R-TX) obviously thinks that the copyright lobbyists are his constituents
    and not the masses of citizens which protested and sank PIPA (Patrick Leahy (D-VT))
    which in turn lead directly to SOPAs death

    Wasn't life + 90 years enough copyright?

  • Sovereignty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @12:57AM (#40635839)
    Can't wait until China starts sending diplomats into our country to enforce their intellectual property laws. I'm sure our esteemed legislator from Texas will be overjoyed to cooperate with Chinese business interests acting within his state.
  • by Compaqt ( 1758360 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @01:01AM (#40635869) Homepage

    Haha. Whoever said that the economic interests of the copyright cartel were the same as that of either:

    1) the US government (I'm not talking about the Obama or Bush campaigns when they inhabit the White House). The copyright cartel is pushing the US into forcing other governments to do stuff they don't want to do, leading to blowback, leading to anti-Americanism. Hollywood films already routinely make more abroad than domestically, and it'll only increase as the world gets richer. What's the problem?

    2) the United States (i.e., the States, united). State and local governments are the ones who have the most to gain from a freer copyright regime. They're usually strapped for money.

    3) people (RIAA lawyers are not counted among these). IP is strangulating innovation and increasing prices. What's the upside? Avatar wouldn't have been made if copyright expired before James Cameron's death?

  • by Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <> on Friday July 13, 2012 @01:17AM (#40635925) Homepage

    They'll keep renaming it until people stop paying attention long enough for it to pass. They've still got almost 17576 four-letter acronyms ending on -A that they haven't used yet.

    (All this keeping in mind that they already pushed the DMCA through.)

  • Re:Sovereignty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c0lo ( 1497653 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @01:33AM (#40636013)

    Can't wait until China starts sending diplomats into our country to enforce their intellectual property laws. I'm sure our esteemed legislator from Texas will be overjoyed to cooperate with Chinese business interests acting within his state.

    This may well be: I reckon is only a matter of how much they'd contribute to their electoral funding.

  • Re:How? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Miseph ( 979059 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @01:45AM (#40636063) Journal

    It shits all over the rhetoric about protecting "American" interests and intellectual property if the relevant interests and intellectual property do not belong to Americans.

    Not even the anti-protectionism crowd would bother defending the use of American political and legal machinery to specifically and disproportionately benefit foreign business.

  • Re:I for one (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ausrob ( 864993 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @01:51AM (#40636097)
    The so called 'copyright clause' of the US constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8) doesn't say that at all - it states "To promote the progress of science and useful arts". It mentions nothing making things profitable. It also mentions granting copyright for a *limited* time, which - given the continuing extensions to copyright term - is not being exercised in accordance with the US constitution.

    By the way, the public domain exists for a reason too, and was intended 'to embiggen a vibrant and creative economy'. Take a look at what has happened to it in the past few decades.
  • Re:Lamar... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Freddybear ( 1805256 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @02:03AM (#40636161)

    It won't matter. Kick Lamar out of Congress this year and he'll be back next year as a lobbyist for the MAFIAA. Just like Chris Dodd and countless other members of the Revolving Door Club.

  • Re:Sovereignty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @02:17AM (#40636203)

    This may well be: I reckon is only a matter of how much they'd contribute to their electoral funding.

    My point is that we act like we own the world. America, fuck yeah! But the truth is, other people own us. They've got us by the balls, and anytime they want, they just have to squeeze and it's the end of the line for us. We can't manufacture most of the goods and services we depend on. The only thing we have in abundance is fresh water, farmable land, and a lot of nuclear missiles. Everything else is decaying. It's been outsourced. There's a few hundred thousand in this country that are rich, and the rest of us are, or soon will be, dirt poor. We're dependant on the 3rd world to provide everything, they're starting to realize they have everything. It's just a matter of time until they can (and will) take the lead and do away with our exploitations.

    Intellectual property is the (failed) attempt to delay this fate of ours... but they saw through it. They're ignoring it. And although we can destroy the world a hundred times over with our military... they are still saying no. And rather than using this antebellum moment to prepare, to maybe even reverse our fate... we're letting those select few rich people ride headlong into our own destruction. And we put them on the cover of Fortune magazine and call them heroes even as they destroy it all.

    Years from now, America will be nothing but a lighthouse, telling other countries where not to sail if they want to avoid a ruinous fate.

  • Re:How? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @02:59AM (#40636339) Journal
    In California, where we've had term limits for a while now (for state politicians), the problem has been that although politicians leave office quickly, lobbyists don't. It takes the politicians a couple years in office before they figure out the lobbyist tricks, and how to deal with them, but the lobbyists stay around for a long time, and get more and more experience manipulating politicians.

    As a result, lobbyists have gained more power. This problem isn't insurmountable, but we still have it here in California.
  • Re:I for one (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @03:01AM (#40636355)
    I think if people actually went and read the CONSTITUTION they would see that copyright exists for a reason - to protect the creator, to make it profitable to create, and to enbiggen a vibrant creative economy.

    Go back and read it again because that's not what it says. What you've written are the means by which copyright fulfills its *actual stated* reason, "to promote the progress of science and useful arts". Everything that is created is supposed to enter the public domain and enrich society as a whole. Letting the creator have a limited (key word: LIMITED) time to make money on his works is the way by which society encourages that.
  • Re:I for one (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 13, 2012 @03:10AM (#40636395)

    I wish they'd teach people not to focus on the irrelevant.

  • Re:How? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:50AM (#40636769)

    The problem is not how these laws are being pushed.
    The problem is the content of these copyright laws.

    How these laws are pushed leads to their content. There is a reason Lamar is treating them like his constituents.

    Campaign Contributions should not only be public, but limited as being from citizen/residents of the level of office that is representing that district. Would-be representatives should only be allowed to accept funds coming from citizens from within that district and Senator from within the state. This will, in theory, make them more likely to honestly represent the area in question. I doubt Lamar Smith's own district in TX is clamoring for this shit.

    Superpacs should not be allowed. I don't think anyone but citizens should be allowed in the campaign contribution process. No groups like megacorps, superpacs, NRA, no unions, nothing. At best, special interest groups should be allowed to notify members in the specific area to give to candidate X or Y. That keeps freedom of association.

    The way it works now, with the structure of the Congress, special interest groups like the MPAA/RIAA entertainment cartel just have to target a few special senators/representatives that head pertinent the committees and have seniority, like the Bidens/Lamars of the world for bribes campaign donations, and they can usually railroad what they want through unless the apathetic public makes a special effort to counter it.

    The problem is that the general public has a life besides watching Congress like a hawk and protesting. These groups can just keep advancing their agendas patiently, like a person playing chess, despite any one-time setbacks.

  • Re:I for one (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xelios ( 822510 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @05:29AM (#40636917)
    I saw this [] back during the SOPA trial. During the hearings the people on the left did everything they could to try to push it through, the people on the right were more or less the only ones speaking out against it.

    One has to wonder why the $2 trillion+ in taxes we pay every year don't buy us as much influence over the legislative process as $100,000 in campaign contributions by various corporate interests. Why aren't election campaigns funded by tax dollars instead of private donations?
  • Re:I for one (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 13, 2012 @06:41AM (#40637159)

    Copyright is intended to help content creators profit from their work so they can make a living and create more content.

    You've got that backwards.

    Copyright is designed to encourage creators to create more content by enabling them to make a living from creating content if they're good at it.

    Being able to live off selling media is the side-effect not the goal.

  • Re:I for one (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @06:43AM (#40637167)

    That's how it is in my country. You get more than 2% of the votes, you get your campaigning costs refunded. It does actually not only level the playing field, it also lessens to some extent the reliance on bribery.

    Sadly, it does not eliminate it. Politicians are simply greedy, they take money where they can get it. The only cure would be to outlaw bribery.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @08:19AM (#40637523)

    The US are already seen as some kind of "international schoolyard bully". He goes around and he wants your lunch money, and if you don't give it to him on his terms, he comes and beats you up. There are of course some kids that suck up to him to, partly to be safe from his fists, partly because they hope that he'll drop some crumbs for them. And of course there are those that dare to stand up against him and get beaten to a pulp, either directly or, if the bully can somehow manage to have a teacher, in the form of the UN, see how someone dares to strike back, even with the blessing of the teacher, to show that no good punk kid that there are some rules.

    The problem with such bullying is that there is always the chance that some other kid comes along who is in some way tougher, who can actually stand up to the bully and beat HIM down into a pulp. Then the bully usually get to notice how his "friends" suddenly turn around and don't know him anymore, worse, they may even help that other guy, either to just get that bully out of their way or because they think they'll be better off with him. Bullies don't have friends. They have sycophants. And they'll suck up to whoever is the biggest.

    I'd be wary to cheer for the new guy that beats the bully up, though. Rarely, he's any better.

    Also, murdering US people is not going to help here. These poor people don't have a choice, you know? Their political system is rigged so only people who accept the absolute corporate rule have a chance to be elected. It's a bit like in the Muslim countries where people who want to be elected have to accept that laws have to be in sync with Muslim laws, but it's more insidious. It's not stated outright, but it's implied. You don't support corporate rule, you don't get campaign money. Without campaign money, no chance for you to be elected.

    If anything, you should attack the system, but attacking the people who can't do much to change it isn't going to help. Quite the opposite, they might see you as their enemy and put their support behind their crooked system.

  • Re:I for one (Score:3, Insightful)

    by usuallylost ( 2468686 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @08:33AM (#40637627)

    Basically you have no options for the $2 trillion+ in taxes you either pay it or you go to jail. The people giving the campaign contributions have a choice who they give that money to. Which forces the politicians to listen to them.

    Political contributions are not all bad. The need of politicians to raise money does force them to be somewhat responsive to the public. In countries where the public funds campaigns out of the treasury politicians know they only need enough supporters to qualify for support and they are golden. The real problem here is the people who want this stuff are very motivated, they stand to make millions or possibly billions off this. The people against it are far less motivated, we post on slashdot and possibly write / call our representatives. Basically we put up an ad hoc defense against an opponent that is working 24x7 on this. It is sort of like sports, who do you think will win the team that has professional trainers and practices constantly or the team that shows up on weekends for a pick up game? Sure the PUG group might win occasionally but overall the pro team is going win most of the time.

    If we are really serious about opposing this stuff the only real answer is get our own full time team working on it. If enough of the public really becomes motivated for something they typically form an association and use that as a vehicle to push their agenda. No matter what you feel about the policy involved the best example, that I can think of, of this is the National Rifle Association. Gun owners don't like gun control and they are willing to join, fund and support with their votes and organization to push that agenda. In that case the NRA is out there 24 x 7 with their $100,000 donations and the threat of several million members who vote demanding that their views be heard. Not only do they lobby congress but they get out in front of the public and argue for their positions.

    The EFF fights some of these battles but it is pretty clear most people here are not really motivated to act. The NRA has something like 3 million members who contribute, like $30 - $50 each per year, and vote. The EFF has about 140,000. People who propose gun control have been known to lose their seats. The people pushing this sort of thing never lose their seats. If we are really serious about this then we either need an EFF with 3 million members or some other organization. Still if we are really serious about blocking this stuff you need an organization with enough members, who provide money, support and votes, to make the members of congress take note. Elected officials tend to view everything through the prism of how does it impact their reelection chances. So when a group demands things they look at a number of things. How many votes can this group get me or cost me. How much money can they put into my war chest. What other benefits can they provide to me or to my constituents, all of which help me get reelected. Until you can shift that equation in your favor the best you are ever going to do is slow them down. The problem is we care but just not enough to really put our money or our votes behind it. Until that changes we lose.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen