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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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RE: Oookay
By FITCamaro on 7/13/2012 7:56:07 AM , Rating: 4
Reagan's deficits had to do with the fact that he had Democrats in charge of the House and Senate at the time. He tried 3-4 times to slash the budget. He shut down the government multiple times to force them to reduce their spending. He wanted to eliminate the Department of Education so that STATES could decide what children learn rather than the far left organization that is the Department of Education now. His tax cuts spurred the things that were possible to get us to today. His spending on defense resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union which was a victory.

Bush 1 - still Democrats in charge. And sacrificed any chance at a second term by agreeing to raise taxes.

Clinton - 8 years of Republican oversight on the budget with a strong leader in the House for much of it under Newt Gingrich. Not to mention at a time of great technological innovation and growth spurred in large part by Reagan. He still managed to slash the military though (requiring Bush 2 to rebuild after being attacked on 9/11) and set us up for the Housing crisis by having Janet Reno threaten banks that if they didn't lend to minorities more, the government would revoke their FDIC insurance, putting them out of business. Don't act like Clinton had anything to do with what our deficits were. He was too busy getting his knob polished by a fat whore.

Bush 2 - Even bringing the wars into the budget, his deficits were relatively low year over year. His first term was marred by the aftershock of the Dotcom bust and 9/11 only further hurt the economy. His tax cuts helped ALL Americans, not just the rich. The poor the most since it eliminated the 10% bracket. But hey just ignore that. Personally I support keeping all the tax cuts except re-adding the 10% bracket since as Obama says, everyone needs some "skin in the game".

Obama didn't have to massively jack up our spending. He choose to. He could have let the economy correct itself. Would times have been tough? Yes. Instead we've gotten as much debt in 3 1/2 years as Bush gave us in 8. And a whole lot more unfunded liabilities to boot. Every projection of Obamacare continues to go up (originally ~$900 billion, now $2.6 trillion). Massive growth of the federal government payroll meaning more salaries, benefits, and pensions we can't afford now or in the long term. Fewer industries, more expensive energy going into the future if nothing changes, and government involvement or essentially complete ownership of the two largest sectors of the economy, health care and finance(If the government can tell you what you can sell, how much you can charge for it, and who you can or have to sell it to, how are they not running it again?).

Don't try to splain this away, these are facts.

RE: Oookay
By FITCamaro on 7/13/2012 8:15:09 AM , Rating: 2
And yes I will add, in Bush's first term, Republicans spent a lot. Far more than they should have. Not on the war. On domestic legislation such as crap like No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D(which massively ballooned the deficit due to its cost).

They've paid for that mistake. And I support the defeat of any Republican who is a RINO. But don't pretend that Democrats want to spend less than Republicans. Their attitude is that you can always tax more to pay for more. Carter's presidency proved that doesn't work.

RE: Oookay
By retrospooty on 7/13/2012 8:20:48 AM , Rating: 2
bah... both parties are full of shit and spend our $SS to the point of criminal negligence. The raps have had plenty of the power in the past 30 years and are feeding the same coffers.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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