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  (Source: Sodahead)
Tax and expand the federal gov't says Texas Rep. Lamar Smith (R)

"When there's copyright infringement / In your neighborhood / Who you gonna call? / The U.S. federal taxpayer funded IP task-force!"

I. SOPA Returns, Renamed and Pared Down

It sounds like a joke, but that's precisely what the The Intellectual Property Attaché Act [PDF], hopes to implement.  The goal is to fight "global" piracy, but the proposal admittedly acknowledges that the taskforce -- a sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce -- could be used in the homeland, as well.

In fact, it seems more than likely that the task-force created by the IP Attaché Act, would operate mostly in the U.S., given difficulties in sending IP "cops" overseas to quasi-hostile infringement-prone regions like China. (What would they do in China, "arrest" street merchants selling knockoff DVDs?)

Overseas complaints are already well-policed -- or about as well policed as is possible -- by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

So the new Commerce Department copyrights cops are essentially redundant, unless their policing happens to primarily focus on the U.S.  And you can bet it does.

The bill is essentially a repackaging of the heart and soul of the fortunately deceased "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) (H.R. 3261) and the U.S. Senate's Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) (S.968).  In fact, it's authored by the same fellow -- Rep. Lamar Smith (R- Tex.) -- who wrote SOPA.

Rep. Smith surely was sweating a bit under the collar when SOPA went down in flames. After all, big media wrote him a check for $85,000 USD during the last campaign cycle [source] and lawyers, many of whom represent big media clients, chipped in another $58,000 USD. [source

Lamar Smith
Rep. Lamar Smith feels he's above the laws he's looking to subject his lowly proles to.
[Image Source: Lamar Smith]

Together these contributions gave him about 10 percent of the money he needed to crush Lainey Melnick 69-to-28 percent voting margin (Mr. Melnick only raised $34,000 USD lacking sufficient big media sponsors).  To be fair, many of Rep. Smith's colleagues received similar payouts from big media.

That kind of money doesn't come for free or cheap.  It comes with big favors.  In this case the cost of the donations was likely a commitment to tirelessly push "anti-piracy" legislation even if it ignores big media corporations' own flagrant copyright theft, wastes taxpayer money, and likely tramples on civil liberties.

Clearly Rep. Smith doesn't truly take his rhetoric to heart, given the fact that he ripped off an independent artist's work for his homepage art, and reportedly initially refused requests from the artist for acknowledgement.

II. Will it Pass?

So does the IP Attaché Act stand any more of a chance of surviving than Rep. Smith's last monstrosity, SOPA?


The largely politically apathetic public burned through a great deal of energy killing the last bill.  And this revised version will likely draw less corporate opposition in that it appears to remove its provisions for sweeping website takedowns in its draft.

Further, the SOPA v. 2.0 (of sorts) has the support of House Oversight Chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) -- who initially supported SOPA as well, but later became a critic who helped sink the measure.  

TechCrunch has obtained a statement from Rep. Issa's office, commenting:

Rep. Issa is set to support the legislation, with small modifications. The Intellectual Property Attaché Act is written to help American individuals and companies that are experiencing intellectual property infringement in certain foreign countries. The legislation will place USPTO trained IP attaches in countries around the world, focusing on areas where American job creators and innovators are experiencing especially high levels of IP-theft. These attaches will work with the foreign governments to help eliminate in-country IP theft that is occurring. This is a net benefit to all Americans both IP holders and consumers. Also, the training and other programs that the attaches may provide can also help local law enforcement to deal with IP-infringement that is occurring. The cost for these attaches will come from collected PTO fees, meaning that the bill is revenue neutral. Additionally, we expect that an amendment will be made to the legislation before it is marked up that will instruct the attaches to promote clear IP exceptions ­ like fair use – already codified in U.S. Law.

The biggest hope for killing the measure perhaps lies in its likely substantial costs and sweeping expansion of the federal government.  Ballooning federal government and burdening taxpayers with the expense of large new federal programs certainly sounds outside the line of traditional fiscal conservative rhetoric that's in vogue these days.

zombie crawling
SOPA v. 2.0 has crawled back onto the scene, but might be killed yet.
[Image Source: DeviantArt;~k1ow3]

Some Republicans may balk at essentially voting for "a tax" in order to scratch the back of big media.  Although, the fact that big media donated generously to a great many members of Congress may allow them to look past their own political beasts and shove this copyright debt on the shoulders of the masses.

At least overseas there are signs of a break in the storm of big media trolling.  Denmark has turned off its warning letters program.  And Canada has implemented strong protections/permissions for user-generated content (e.g. montages) and capped non-commercial infringement at $5,000 USD.

In other words, the U.S. is one of the last places where big media can hope to sue individual citizens for millions of dollars for pirating a few songs.  It also looks to become one of the few nations to install a special redundant "copyright police" agency at the federal level, financed by its citizens' tax burden.

Sources: House of Representatives [PDF], TechCrunch

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More Honking
By drlumen on 7/12/2012 4:54:35 PM , Rating: 5
From the same clown that brought you ACTA.

I can't believe this guy is still in office. Just goes to prove that corporate dollars can buy votes.

RE: More Honking
By joex444 on 7/12/2012 5:01:15 PM , Rating: 4
Did you catch the part where "big media" and "lawyers" contributed over $140k, which made up 10% of his funds for the campaign. His competitor raised under $35k and still got 28% of the vote. Here he is with $1.4M.

Dollar for dollar, he should have won by a factor of 40. That would be a victory of 97.5% to 2.5%. Nice work.

RE: More Honking
By Etsp on 7/12/2012 5:40:23 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, in a fantasy land where every voter can be swayed by marketing money.

In reality, there are people firm in their political stance on the left and right that will not be swayed under almost any circumstance to vote for the opposite party. You can bet it was this type of democrat that made up a huge chunk of that 28% number.

RE: More Honking
By Ringold on 7/13/2012 2:12:55 AM , Rating: 3
These guys are also assuming this is the only issue that matters to people. When it comes down to the ballot box, most people probably wont be thinking about IP laws, but rather nuts and bolts political issues, like the economy, foreign policy, etc., especially in recent years.

He might've also had weak opposition, or no tea-party or other strong primary challenger, in which case the voters are free to send a challenger against him every 2 years..

RE: More Honking
By MrBlastman on 7/13/2012 11:56:19 AM , Rating: 5
In reality, there are people firm in their political stance on the left and right that will not be swayed under almost any circumstance to vote for the opposite party.

Not only that, but these same people would never consider voting for an independent, either. Our Country is broken.

Wait, scratch that. No, our Country isn't broken, the people within it are acting predictably. We are a helpless victim of the bell curve.

Objective thought can be taught--the schools just aren't willing to teach it. Thinking that way leads to students that are harder to manage and control.

RE: More Honking
By Uncle on 7/13/2012 6:41:28 PM , Rating: 5
I think Americans have to start looking at things from a different angle.You can forget your a Republic with a touch of Democracy. America now should be regarded as a Fascist Country.
The Godfather of Fascism, Benito Mussolini, once summed it up: "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power." In the early 1900s, the Italians who invented the term Fascism also described it as "estato corporativo," meaning: the corporate state.
Franklin D. Roosevelt once described Fascism this way: "The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by … a group, or any controlling private power."
Very few Americans would argue the fact that corporations now control the government and have the dominant role in their society.
A Senator had it right when he warned: "When fascism comes to America, it will come in the form of democracy."

RE: More Honking
By knutjb on 7/13/2012 7:25:44 PM , Rating: 1
You can forget your a Republic with a touch of Democracy. America now should be regarded as a Fascist Country.
You need to learn what FASCISM is before making such a claim. As to the rest of your incredibly naive assertions, if corporations held such power we would already have SOPA. Mussolini said in a way palatable to the Italians at the time. His merger of state and corporate was just like his buddy Adolph's, the state directed the companies, not the other way round. Roosevelt used FASCIST methods under the NRA.

RE: More Honking
By Uncle on 7/13/2012 10:28:58 PM , Rating: 2
Whats Democracy . China could have a Democracy. All they would have to do is split their communist party in two, call one republicans and the other the Democrats. Both can be elected by the people, but they can continue to go the same path as one, the Chinese just don't play the game like the Americans and fool the people into thinking the two partys are different. How many time have you heard Americans say it doesn't mater who you vote for nothing seems to change. One party continues where the other left off. I stick with calling the Americans Fascist.

RE: More Honking
By Uncle on 7/14/2012 12:11:46 PM , Rating: 5
By the way my personal choice for a newer meaning of Democracy is " Illusion of Choice". To placate the people.

RE: More Honking
By amartsg on 7/14/2012 11:30:08 AM , Rating: 2
great -- a very insightful post

RE: More Honking
By hood6558 on 7/15/2012 10:24:34 AM , Rating: 3
Fascism is probably the most accurate description of the U.S. political system. We now have a larger percentage of our population residing in jails and prisons than any country IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. It fluctuates from .7% to over 1%. If you count those under correctional control (parole, probation), the total is an astounding 3.1%! In my city the police force routinely violates it's citizen's rights. They arrest everyone they can for any reason (or no reason) and leave it to you to hire a lawyer to fight it, meanwhile the whole system makes money off you. Those with plenty of cash almost never do time, and the poor fill the prisons. So now they want to target the poor even more - the poor download (steal) music and movies because they can't afford 8% to 15% of their weekly income for one movie or CD. The rich pride themselves on their huge collections of (store bought) media. The middle class struggle along, occasionally pirating a song or movie, but mostly buying. Now they want to put another large percentage in jail, for downloading a song they could record off the airwaves, or a movie that will soon be on broadcast television.

RE: More Honking
By perspicacity on 7/17/2012 2:29:07 PM , Rating: 2
Understood, but you have it backwards. "Corporate state" doesn't refer to corporation-owned government... rather it means government-owned corporations. It's a system of state run entities to control the population.

So, by your arguments... USA is the opposite of a corporate state.

RE: More Honking
By Uncle on 7/18/2012 12:58:56 PM , Rating: 2
No, that would be Communism.

RE: More Honking
By perspicacity on 7/19/2012 8:37:15 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. With it's current trends... the US is moving ever closer to communism than to fascism.

RE: More Honking
By gorehound on 7/16/2012 7:24:42 PM , Rating: 2
I agree.This man is a scumbag who does not deserve to be in a position of Authority.

RE: More Honking
By NellyFromMA on 7/31/2012 4:31:39 PM , Rating: 2
Lamar is a tool bag and I already had that impression before being forced to see his smile. Now I'm sure.

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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