Saturday, June 21, 2008


In case you haven't heard, the House has passed by an overwhelming margin a copyright-related bill that dramatically increases penalties for piracy and copyright infringement. (You can read all about it here... but be warned--there's nothing but bad news.)

What we have here is a group of purchased representatives (paid for by the MPAA, the RIAA, and other organizations) passing laws they more than likely have never read because they've hear that "they protect copyrights." What these provisions actually do is make criminals of more Americans than Prohibition ever did. Have you ever borrowed a CD from a friend and ripped a copy of it? You're a pirate under this law, and they could issue civil penalties, seize your computer equipment, and possibly even more. Have you ever given someone a copy of a TV show that you had recorded? Same problem. Ever made a copy of a copyrighted chart, a book, or a piece of art? Ditto. Ever downloaded a TV show or a comic book or a piece of music? Piracy.

So long as Congress continues to let advocacy groups like the RIAA or the MPAA write the laws, our copyright system will only get more broken. I saw a proposal recently that said that all ISPs should be forced to add a $5-$10 monthly charge to all internet service that would be a copyright fee; this would be pooled and distributed among copyright holders, and that would allow users to download what they want with no fear of copyright infringement retribution.

Would such a system work? I don't know--but I do know that it's the product of someone thinking in the right direction. I'm only hoping that the Senate shows more wisdom than the House and votes against this bill right away; we need representatives and Senators who are finding a way to adjust the system to benefit copyright holders and the citizens, not to create a draconian system that creates a criminal in virtually every home with a TV or an MP3 player or a computer.

1 comment:

Art said...

The Internet is returning things like music to their origins as folk art. In the future a Jimmy Page might not be flying above us on a rented 747, but working on our plumbing by day and uploading "Stairway to Heaven" to his MySpace page at night. I'm not so sure it's a bad thing.

Lars Ulrich became the face of the anti-downloading movement, and in the process his argument was distorted by people who probably didn't even read/hear it. His point was that companies like Napster weren't kids in basements doing something because they thought it was cool. It was a well-funded startup company gunning for a big IPO, who's value would be based on the free distribution of Metallica's music. In the meantime Metallica wouldn't see a dime.

I can see his point, and this new law punishing the public is the wrong way to solve the problem.