Republican Rep. Wants Taxpayers to Pay for Piracy Police (Again)
July 12, 2012 4:10 PM
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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
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
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
) and the U.S. Senate's Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) (
). 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. [
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'
, 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.
has obtained a statement from Rep. Issa's office,
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.
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
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.
House of Representatives [PDF]
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RE: Boycott big media in 2013!
7/13/2012 12:17:45 PM
I've been doing this for some time. I refuse to purchase any movies or music at this point, and I was a big home theater fan. It saddens me greatly that I can't buy movies any more.
The bad part, if enough people actually do this to impact their bottom lines, they'll just blame piracy and make up some new legislation that diverts money to their pockets. Then they'll make three more taxpayer funded government agencies to police the peasants and increase 'awareness' about the problem.
RE: Boycott big media in 2013!
7/13/2012 12:41:10 PM
That's exactly why we need a central communication point to tell them that we are boycotting them. (In addition, we need to tell them we're sick of supporting their flops and to stop making them.)
I have purchased a total of 3 bluray movies and one music CD (and that was a really old "greatest hits" CD) this year. that's far down from back before the RIAA got started suing so many innocent people. Before that all got started, I was buying on the order of 60-70 movies and CDs per year. They ticked me off.
I'm going for a total, organized, boycott in 2013. The Avengers should be showing up on shelves around early 2013. if we can impact the sales of that movie (don't worry, we can catch up in 2014) as well as The Dark Knight Rises, we'll possibly get their attention. If I can get enough people in on the Facebook page, or even, if I find one that represents my views, join another page that would organize a boycott, we could possibly get media attention and make those idiot music and movie executives listen.
Personally, I'm sock of garbage TV, music, and movies, and I'm tired of supporting it. I've switched almost entirely to BBC and Japanese TV. (Top Gear and Doctor Who are awesome to me. Misfits and some others are quite good, too. There are a few British shows that were cancelled that I liked a lot, but they don't really listen to their US market. Anime is well, amine. It's different, and I understand some people are just too small minded to look past the big animated boobs to see the social messages and philosophy behind it.) They just make so much better TV than anything we have here in the US.
I just find it hard to even find any good shows in US TV. White Collar and Burn Notice were good in the beginning, but have turned quite formulaic lately. Phych is still quite good, even though it is quite formulaic too. NCIS has been good for a long time, but that's the only thing I'll watch from any of the big networks these days. Do you think they even notice they're slipping? Do they even realize how incompetent they are?
RE: Boycott big media in 2013!
7/14/2012 6:14:39 PM
People are simply not that politically motivated.
Especially not after a long hard week, and come saturday they decide not to invite their friends kids round to watch the latest disney movie because they are on some boycott.
Decided that the film they had been looking forward to watching once the kids are in bed, that's out of the window now, boycott on.
And their favourite artists new CD. Well, that won't be listened to on Monday on the way back to work, after a really boring weekend having to speak to each other, listen to no music, watch no films, or any TV.
Yup, they are too busy boycotting.
RE: Boycott big media in 2013!
7/16/2012 7:23:53 PM
I LIKE big, animated boobs...or any other kind of big boobs.
“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs
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