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As and IFPI lobbyist, Maria Martin-Prat looked to outlaw DRM cracking and making backup copies. Now she's Europe's "copyright queen" (or more precisely the "Head of Unit Services I, Directorate General Internal Market, European Commission").   (Source: European Commission)

EU legislators Christian Engström (Sweden, top) and Marietje Schaake (Netherlands, bottom) are fighting the appointment.  (Source: Wired (top)/LGEO Online (bottom))
EU hires a head lobbyist from RIAA parent org. IFPI to steer its copyright policy

While most agree that piracy is illegal and wrong to some extent, many feel the media industry is behind the times when it comes to digital distribution.  They argue that media companies fail to provide consumers with appealing options hence consumers take matters into their own hands and resort to piracy.  They also complain that the piracy punishment resembles mob tactics more than a fair legal process, with million dollar verdicts against everyday citizensthreats, and off-the-record settlements.

Unfortunately for those unhappy with the situation, it may be about to get worse.  

I.  The EC's New Copyright Chief -- A History of Working to Cut Owner Rights

The European Union has been appointed Maria Martin-Prat to head their copyright commission.  The copyright commission is part of the EU's business regulatory body, the European Commission (EC).  Ms. Martin-Prat will be replacing former chief Tilman Lueder, who is heading to a new position in China.

Ms. Martin-Prat had formerly left the EC and enjoyed employment working at International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the parent organization of the U.S.'s RIAA, Canada's CRIA, and Britain's BPI.

During her stint at the IFPI, Ms. Martin-Prat worked to try to outlaw backup copies of media.  The EC provides a private copying exemption, dubbed the European Fair Dealing.  The U.S. enjoys similar exemptions, which the RIAA/IFPI have contended in the past are illegal.  They argue that making backups is "stealing" and you should just repurchase damaged/lost content.  Ms. Martin-Prat argued [PDF] that backups have "no reason to exist".

She contends that backup exemptions violate the three-step test first written into the Berne copyright convention 50 years ago.  Those steps state that exemptions are only fair if they:

  1. Apply to a "special" case. 
  2. Don’t interfere with the "normal exploitation of the work."
  3. Don't "unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rights holder." 
She reiterated her stance in a conference paper [PDF].

Similarly, Ms. Martin-Prat looked to rob consumers of the ability to crack DRM.  DRM cracking in the U.S. and Europe is prohibited, but not typically prosecuted unless you distribute the cracked files.  Ms. Martin-Prat sought to make the very act of DRM cracking a prosecutable felony.

In her IFPI work said that she and the industry were "pleading for strong copyright protection".  Well apparently those pleas for stronger "protection" have been answered.

II. Growing Opposition to Appointment

Two EU legislators -- Liberal Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake and Swedish Pirate Party MEP Christian Engström -- have openly blasted the appointment.  They write [PDF] the EC asking:


Does the Commission not see any problems in recruiting top civil servants from special interest organisations, especially when being put in charge of dossiers directly related to their former employers? If not, why not?

Does the Commission feel that such an appointment would help to build confidence with the European Parliament and the general public that the Commission can be trusted to handle copyright-related issues in a fair and balanced manner?

Mr. Engström was even more emphatic in his own blog, slamming the EU for supporting what he sees as corrupt cronyism.  He writes:

Welcome to the European Union, where the big business lobby organizations are calling most of the shots at the Commission, and where citizens are just seen as a nuisance to be ignored. I guess the only real news is that they don’t even bother to try to hide it any more.

Given existing EC rules and policies, the organization now has to respond to the criticism pertaining to the appointment, justifying its controversial decision.

This is not the first time that the issues of corruption, favoritism, and bias have been raised in Europe.  During the iconic trial of the Pirate Bay, the judge in the trial was found to have formerly worked for a copyright protection organization.  

He provided jurors with information that the Pirate Bay admins' legal team felt was inaccurate and misleading.  The trial resulted in a conviction, a sentence of prison time, and a massive fine for the admins.

The legal team tried to appeal the verdict and sentence, but ended up losing before an unsympathetic higher court.

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RE: Martin-Pratt
By JasonMick on 4/7/2011 4:08:49 PM , Rating: 3
Most of western civilization can be traced back to “Christian principles”,

I would agree with this statement. You ORIGINALLY mentioned the founding fathers -- most of whom were NOT Christian.

The Christian church most definitely guided "western" society throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, including during the colonization of America during the late Renaissance. It was only in the 1600s and 1700s that the power of the Church finally weakened.

Now that's a totally separate issue and is more of a historical discussion, though.

What we were discussing (I thought) was the separation of church and state.

but that does not make us a theocracy.

Iran is a theocracy, since it has religious leaders (of one specific religion) running the country, to the exclusion of anything else.

I have no problem with you (an individual) praying no matter what your job is.

What is problematic is if teachers or other authority figures organize a group prayer in a government funded school (private schools should be able to do whatever, imo). Because in doing so, you've discriminated against children who pray differently or don't pray at all, essentially violating their Constitutional rights.

Also problematic is the issue of putting the ten commandments in a federal court house (there was a major debate on this -- some fundamentalists religious conservatives were very adamant that this should be allowed and encouraged). That is officially sanctioning three religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (as all believe in the ten commandments in some form in their religious texts). In doing so you've excluded other religions (Hinduism, etc.)

Any time the government adopts specific religious texts or allows its employees to lead religious activities while on the clock, you're essentially taking a step towards theocracy. No ifs and or buts.

I wasn’t justifying the use of Alcohol and Tobacco by saying that marijuana is not low-risk. They all have health and social risks, in fact my father died young due to smoking tobacco.

Oh I agree there. My grandfather died of tobacco-induced emphysema and my grandmother died of liver disease from alcoholism.

Marijuana certainly has health risks too. Psychologically it's amotivating in at least some individuals (and I've witnessed this first-hand in good friends). And inhaling any burning substance predisposes you to cancer and diminishes your lung power.

Even if its legal I wouldn't smoke as a) I'm a runner b) I've had cancer once and don't want to have it again and c) I'm a bit of a health nut.

That said, I think if people want to grow/responsibly consume it in their own homes that should be their own business.

Now of course there should be laws against them driving while intoxicated, but that would be trivial enough to extend the DUI alcohol laws.

Ultimately its money that's preventing legalization. Cannabis can be cheaply grown in arid and colder climates. Once grown it can be quickly harvested, dried and smoked with little effort.

By contrast alcohol requires complex distillation process (anyone who's microbrewed can appreciate the difficulty) to get a quality brew. Likewise tobacco grows only in select climates (the south). Thus both lend themselves to creating large commercial drug companies.

These companies e.g. Budweiser, Malboro, etc. represent an incredible powerful lobby. And they are the same ones that have been fighting to outlaw marijuana. Not because it's medically more dangerous than their products -- but because they'll lose control of a good chunk of America's legal drug spending.

I’ve seen, uses marijuana that was legally grown under government license at single research location (using illegal pot in a study would get the researchers in trouble). This marijuana is very weak compared to what is currently being sold on the street, which makes these studies biased towards your side of the argument.

I don't know how much you know about marijuana, but the "strength" is largely dependent on the growing conditions, the hybrid variety, and what part of the plant you smoke/ingest. But more potent marijuana, while intoxicating doesn't carry any other harmful documented health effects (in fact it creates positive effects like greater pain relief).

The amount of carcinogens you receive from more potent pot is the same as they're in the smoke itself, not the psychoactive compounds (THC) that determine the perceived potency.

What you're likely referring to is marijuana laced with some other illegal narcotic like PCP, etc. This happens largely because marijuana is illegal and there's no gov't oversight in terms of purity.

Consuming such a substance is most definitely dangerous -- not so much because of the marijuana, but because of the other drug that's in the mix.

But again, it's crazy to say this justifies illegality, because illegality CREATES such cases of dangerous lacing.

As for a mother who loses her baby in a crash, most states DO have laws concerning this. If you kill a pregnant woman, you can be charged with not only killing the woman, but will killing her unborn child. If the woman survives, but the fetus doesn’t, you can still be charged with the killing.

Read carefully. I wrote if the mother was found at fault. I'm not aware of states having laws that prosecute a mother if she miscarries her baby following an accident she was at fault for.

As for abortion, what age would you say a fetus is conscious? Only after it’s born, 1 day before its born, at 8 months, at 5 months?
Studies have shown that the brain starts developing very early, during the 1st trimester, and by the 5th month, brain activity patterns resemble an adult. This is based on science, not religion, and the destruction of a conscious being is murder.

I probably should have been more specific. I was referring to the most common type of abortion, early term abortions and post-zygote contraceptives (e.g. "the morning after pill"). These account for in excess of 90 percent of procedures and are relatively safe.

In general, I agree with you, though, late term abortion is a difficult issue. After five to sixth months, I agree neural activity is occurring to the point where sentience may be achieved.

Really I have no problem with rules/restrictions on later term abortions. After all these constitute such a tiny fraction of the abortions performed as they are VERY risky and dangerous.

What I DO have a problem with is restrictions on the morning after pill or early (months 1-3) abortions. That should be a woman's own right, as I said, as there's not clear-cut scientific evidence to support sentience of the fetus AT THAT STAGE.

You'll probably say that not all conservatives oppose this, and that's true. But many do, and they've fought quite effectively to ban or try to ban early abortions both at the state and federal level.

That's quite problematic.

I also think women should get something like a 2:1 vote in legislatures when deciding on abortion issues. After all, it's easy for you or me to try to sit and pass judgement on somebody, but neither of us is ever going to have carry a fetus inside of us (assuming your a man).

Just as I believe in greater self-governance in terms of local gov't I believe women should have greater self-governance when it comes to abortion issues.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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