Ok, nerds. It's time to mount up. We're going to war. We're living in what is increasingly becoming a copyright and intellectual property police state, and it's time we self-organize and do something about it. Here's the deal.
Recently, the office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (a new post under the Obama administration) asked for comments as it puts together its "Joint Strategic Plan" for intellectual property enforcement. Yes, you the public are also invited to comment, and that's what I'm hoping you'll do after you read this. Or during. Or both.
See, the RIAA and the MPAA submitted a joint commentary that the EFF refers to as a "wish list" and, most accurately, a dystopian view of a future in which most government and police resources go toward stopping intellectual property theft and illegal downloading.
This Gizmodo post describing the comments reads like something only hyper-overreactive, FUD-spreading free-stuff-loving Internet types would come up with as a paranoid nightmare: the RIAA and MPAA want spyware installed on your computers that would automatically delete "infringing content." They want network-monitoring software that would halt an illegal download in its tracks. They want to deputize the FBI, Homeland Security, and border crossing guards to examine and seize MP3 players and laptops (something so egregious it even came out of the wildly over-the-top ACTA agreement). Crazy talk, I know.
But read the comments for yourself. It's all in there. And there's more: the MPAA wants blockbuster movie releases to be treated with the same kinds of security measures and law-enforcement mobilization that might occur when, say, a head of state comes to visit.
The comments call for bandwidth throttling and shaping, network filtering and deep-packet inspection (especially on college campuses), and accelerated federal investigations into the theft of "pre-release music and movies...as this is one of the most damaging forms of online copyright theft and requires immediate attention and swift action." Dive in anywhere. It's a minefield of overreaching, unbelievably punitive, alarmist language.
And this is just insult to injury, considering the other things the music and movie industry have either asked for or forced on us over the years, as they become increasingly paranoid about digital piracy and increasingly panicked about their outmoded, pre-Internet business plans. And let's not forget their historic unwillingness to make any sort of actual business changes and instead try to rely on government to keep them in business. Let's review.
Thanks to the DMCA, it is illegal for you to make a digital copy of a DVD that you have actually purchased. That's because, under the law, you are not allowed to break the technological DRM that keeps you from ripping the DVD. It's also because you have no explicit right to fair use with the content or devices you own. The RIAA has spent years flirting with ways to stop you from ripping CDs, hinting that they don't think making digital copies of your own CDs is, in fact, fair use. Several labels briefly issued widely despised copy-protected CDs, until consumer outcry put a stop to it because the crippled CDs frequently wouldn't even play. And of course, when that failed, they resorted to dirty tricks like embedding rootkits in CDs that would essentially break your computer when you ripped one. … Read more