Maria Pallante Appointed 12th Register of Copyrights — Congratulations to Ms. Pallante for becoming the next Register of Copyrights. Pallante brings a wealth of experience from her previous work in the Copyright Office and the private sector.

Google’s Selective Human Rights Advocacy on the Protect IP Act — The $30 billion a year corporation is silent until it comes to the free speech rights of pirates. MusicTechPolicy notes the uncanny similarities between its concerns and those of non-profit interest groups.

Distortions versus reality — The Copyright Alliance examines what the Protect IP Act does and what its opponents say it will do.

G8 Declaration: Internet and IP critical to innovation — Barry Sookman looks at the declaration of the members of the G8 on the role of the internet and related issues.

Publish your ebook on Amazon’s Kindle: How to, tips from authors, reviews, pitfalls, and what to expect — Hillary DePiano has a collection of links to blog posts for emerging authors about self-publishing online.

Closing the Loophole on Illegal Streaming — A House subcommittee has begun the process of looking at changing federal law so that streaming copyrighted works is considered a felony.

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6 Comments

  1. Sandra Aistars

    ” …the argument advanced here seems to be that if criminal web sites are shut down but then reopen elsewhere, that is justification for doing nothing. In what other area of law enforcement would inaction on such grounds be viewed as acceptable? Would a mayor or chief law enforcement officer in any city in America inform constituents that he would not shut down a notorious drug market, because the drug dealers would most likely only move to a different corner?”
    How has that turned out? In the last forty years of enforcement, has drug demand or supply gone down? drug enforcement has failed, similar to copyright enforcement.

    “When Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized nine sites during the initial phase of the Operation in Our Sites program, all of the sites taken down remain down”

    They moved and it should be interesting to see what happens when some go to court eventually.

    “Moreover, upon monitoring additional rogue sites, it was found that an additional 81 websites, over one quarter of the landscape (26%)”

    That’s the same talking point of John Morton, and it’s old. How long are people going to use that? Is it going to be the same as the 1:1 correlation on downloads impacting potential sales? Is there no way to look into which sites have popped up? How about going for the sources (Megavideo, Rapidshare, etc) of the content instead of throwing around third party liability?

    “This is a significant development and demonstrates the effectiveness and positive impact of government intervention to curb illicit behavior.”

    So… If they’re deterring the behavior. Why are some of the sites immediately returned? AND, there’s the fact that they’ve noticed ICE’s behavior. Link. Sounds like they are getting prepared for round five and six. Good luck ICE.

    “The ongoing shouts of “no we can’t” are not resonating with American workers who see their intellectual property misappropriated, their brands tarnished, the value of their work eroded and their paychecks and livelihoods threatened on a daily basis.”

    I can’t look at that without thinking about all of the ways people look at songs, art, and create new content based on older material. The FUD here is absolutely hilarious. Maybe Joe Karaganis’ three year study into enforcement could help her out.

    • I can’t look at that without thinking about all of the ways people look at songs, art, and create new content based on older material.

      The laws should be designed to encourage inspired works, not derivative ones.

  2. Jay is overlooking a big difference between the war on piracy and the war on drugs. The drugs trade continues, despite many arrests and long prison sentences, because it is immensely lucrative. The same is not true of piracy (though a lot of pirate sites do make some money from advertising, or from distributing malware). Also, the drugs trade is carried on by hardened thugs, whereas piracy is (presumably) carried on mainly by computer nerds who have never seen the inside of a police station. If there were a real threat of serious prison time, with all that that entails (especially in the US prison system), I think piracy would shrink rapidly. There is a historical precedent: in England aroung 1900 there was a big trade in pirated sheet music, but when the ringleaders were prosecuted for criminal conspiracy, and given prison sentences with ‘hard labour’, it was no longer worth the risk.

    • “The drugs trade continues, despite many arrests and long prison sentences, because it is immensely lucrative.”

      Very true that it’s lucrative, but–

      ” Also, the drugs trade is carried on by hardened thugs,”
      This varies immensely. We’ve had a hard ban on most drugs because of Nixon ( Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970) and the results have been devastating to world trade, in a number of areas, around the world. If you look at the incarceration rate of the US, as compared to any other country, we have the highest by far. I believe it’s up to 263%, and it’s increasing. Most of the offenders aren’t peddling hard narcotics, merely marijuana or other “gateway” drugs that supposedly cause people to look for cocaine. Even small doses of marijuana can have up to five years in prison. This is all from the hard ban on selling drugs, where before 1970, the government regulated.
      The social effects are devastating. Rather than go on and on about disenfranchisement, the increased incarceration of minorities, and the greater increased powers of state, I’ll point to LEAP’s discussion on the topic of drugs as my source of information. Even looking at the wiki article, the problems appear to continue to get worse and worse. LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) isn’t unknown to the drug trade. Their insight into how it can effectively be changed around on its head with legalization isn’t a new idea. It’s the same as stopping Prohibition of Alcohol from the 1920s.

      “If there were a real threat of serious prison time, with all that that entails (especially in the US prison system), I think piracy would shrink rapidly.”

      Why would that occur? Copyright in the US already has a high threat limit. The $150,000 FBI warning label comes to mind, along with the five years in prison. Your argument seems to imply that criminal organizations are controlling content in some way.

      I’d say that’s a false assumption. There’s little if any high profit margins to piracy, as compared to the 1900s. Most of the criminal organizations that may have copied videotapes or DVDs before the 90s have other, higher profit, ventures that they pursue. Most of the hard drives, mp3 players, CD/DVD burners are commodity items used by the public, forcing the criminal element out. I find it quite hard to believe piracy can be solved through such a hard line method.

      • The theoretical penalties for copyright infringement may be high, but they are very seldom applied. The founders of the Pirate Bay are still at large, pending their appeal, and in any case a year or two in a soft Swedish jail is hardly the end of the world, whatever Julian Assange may think. Whereas 10 years in Oz – that’s what I call a deterrent!

        As it happens, I agree with much of what you say about the war on drugs. I would favour legalisation of the sale of drugs to adults, subject to some kind of licencing regime.

        I think you are missing my point on the economic distinction between piracy and drugs. The drugs trade persists, despite severe penalties that are actually enforced, because it is extremely profitable. Piracy of music, films, etc, is never going to be that profitable because the whole point of it is that the ‘customers’ want the product for nothing, and can buy it legally for not much more than nothing. So the balance between risk and reward in the two cases (assuming that copyright laws were seriously enforced) would be entirely different.

        As for the ‘sociological’ difference between drug dealers and pirates (or ‘sharers’, or whatever you call them), I am not personally acquainted with many of either group, so I am going largely by media stereotypes. Maybe shows like The Wire have deceived me into thinking that drug dealers, at all levels, are (by and large) hardened thugs. Equally, I may be mistaken in assuming that most persistent downloaders and filesharers are social inadequates and borderline autistic. (Though the recent case of a Scottish woman who had ‘shared’ many thousands of music files, and who turned out to be depressive and obsessive, tends to fit the stereotype.)

        As for the involvement of criminal organisations in piracy, I didn’t suggest that was common, except maybe in my reference to malware distribution. I don’t know how extensive that is, but it is not negligible. If you Google ‘free download’ for any music or film title, there are usually many websites offering it, and they can’t all be doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s a bit like ‘free pornography’: porn sites are notoriously often controlled by organised crime, and I guess that some pirate sites must be the same.

  3. “Whereas 10 years in Oz – that’s what I call a deterrent!”

    The problem is that:
    1) the punishment does not fit the crime

    2) Even though other parts of the world have similar laws, these results are not coming up. Even Russia, who’s had a hard stance with prison time for street vendors for software, finds this quite difficult to do. The most recent information about Russia mainly has to do with political bullying, based on copyright infringement, against the open software movement.
    Brazil has had a high price on software goods for some time, yet piracy is rampant.

    Looking at the US, or even Sweden, the prosecutions have been through civil means, making copyright seem ridiculous through the prosecutions on noncommercial infringements.
    You say that we need to prosecute infringements more. But judging by the current list of copyright cases on the books (Domain seizures, Bryan McCarthy, stronger draconian laws), how many judges will seriously believe that 10 years for infringing a copyright without any evidence of economic loss will accurately compensate a copyright holder? The RIAA has tried a “sue em all” tactic. The MPAA is working on education. Out of all of these, has there been any progress to slow down filesharing networks through these methods? Hell, there’s even raids that occur to secure CDs nowadays. The point is that even with all of this, the filesharing hasn’t stopped nor slowed down until there were legal alternatives (Youtube, etc.).

    “I think you are missing my point on the economic distinction between piracy and drugs”

    For this I have to ask one thing. When the sale of alcohol was prohibited, what did it do for the price? Other affects include raising purity, which causes more harm to people for whatever drug they’re taking. Basically, the ban causes more harm to society, and increased prices on the black market, but it does nothing to cut out either demand or supply.

    What is the enforcement of copyright doing for legal alternatives in the aggregate? Hulu’s services are still limited. Netflix is still only in two places (US and Canada) and the alternatives in other countries are making some money, but innovation is very sparse right now. IIRC, HBO is trying something new such as having people subscribe to a service to get new shows a week earlier than what the pirates can give.

    What is occurring in both fields is enforcement is increasing a number of costs, acting as a barrier to entry and basically stagnating those fields. Which studio actively pursues streaming movies themselves? Which of the major four uses Bittorrent for their movies? As Ari Emmanuel puts it, piracy is a problem (2010). But as Barry Dillar along with Terry Semel did at the recent Milken Institute Global Conference, the problem comes by not being able to serve customers and seeing an explosion of distribution channels. Short version if you don’t want to read, Dillar has said that piracy is going to happen for whatever reason, but “it’s a small [business] risk”. The Milken Institute shows how the industry seems to think about the new technologies (Ari seems to be incredibly Luddite in the talks) while the War on drugs has been unjustifiable for quite some time.

    “Maybe shows like The Wire have deceived me into thinking that drug dealers, at all levels, are (by and large) hardened thugs. Equally, I may be mistaken in assuming that most persistent downloaders and filesharers are social inadequates and borderline autistic”

    If you look into marijuana, there’s a number of people that use it for back pain. There’s even women that use marijuana because of endometriosis. It may be possible to figure out how to use drugs in better fashion, but there are benefits to legalizing at least marijuana. Hemp still has many uses outside of smoking. The main reason for its ban is because of outdated laws used to criminalize all behavior outside medicinal/industrial use (Marijuana Act, 1937).

    And most filesharers aren’t inept social liveins. Most downloads actually seem to come from overseas, where people don’t have access to American TV shows (as explained above). It’s one of the misunderstandings about filesharing that Joe Karaganis spends so much time discussing. Through the research, he finds that either the pricing on American goods is out of date in a global market or it’s ineffective.

    ” I don’t know how extensive that is, but it is not negligible. ”
    The money has gone out of piracy. You’ve said so yourself. When DVD recorders, mp3 players, and 100gb Hard drives became commodity items, it effectively took away the criminal element, by empowering consumers. Sure, the mafia can buy server space and set up a website for a stream, but come on… Where would they make decent profit margins from just Google admob?

    “they can’t all be doing it out of the goodness of their hearts”
    They don’t have to. But look at Torrent Butler, who’s admin does it because he loves movies. Warez used to do it as an underground movement. I believe the name was sold recently, but there’s other incentives at play rather than just a monetary profit.

    “porn sites are notoriously often controlled by organised crime”

    Again, the criminal element has left because the profit motive is no longer there. There are now porn starlets with crossover appeal such as Jenna Jameson (GTA Vice City, Howard Stern Show) or Sascha Grey (Entourage). There are women who have sites dedicated to themselves and the porn industry has the AVN awards. It would be difficult to have such things if there were an organized crime element. Now if we’re talking human trafficking, your argument has more validity. And even then, the sex trade is becoming a very different beast for those in organized crime. Sure, there is still a criminal element. But it’s not as prevalent as say the 80s, when the mafia controlled the video tape and where it could be produced.