Thursday, May 27, 2004

NEWS - Plundering Civil Rights

News.com reports that Orrin Hatch has done it again. Dubbed "the PIRATE act," S.2237 (inane acronym and all) represents the new lows to which the RIAA and its ilk have sunk in their quest to make everyone else do their dirty work for them.

Apparently, the RIAA and it's meat-puppet, Senator Hatch, think that big media is too poor to continue enforcing its own copyrights. Now, they want the Justice Department to do it for them.

And it seems that when it comes to intellectual property, insanity isn't limited to the Republican party. Patrick Leahy had this to say:

Federal prosecutors have been hindered in their pursuit of pirates by the fact that they were limited to bringing criminal charges with high burdens of proof. Prosecutors can rarely justify bringing criminal charges, and copyright owners have been left alone to fend for themselves, defending their rights only where they can afford to do so. In a world in which a computer and an Internet connection are all the tools you need to engage in massive piracy, this is an intolerable predicament.


So it's not enough that the No Electronic Theft Act (at least it's acronym doesn't spell something goofy) allows the Justice Department to file criminal charges against large-scale file swappers. Now the RIAA wants the government to bring civil actions.

The fact that prosecuting teenagers on felony charges isn't high on the Justice Department's to-do list hasn't deterred the RIAA from its quest to make us taxpayers shell out the money enforce its copyrights. The PIRATE act would require the Attorney General to come up with a plan to ensure enforcement in six months.

For once, maybe it's a good thing that Ashcroft is so fixated on wasting our tax dollars prosecuting pornography.

The whole idea of the PIRATE act is appalling. I wish I knew how much money the entertainment lobby paid to Hatch and Leahy to make them sell out like that and try to pledge public money to enforce purely private rights.

Burdens of proof have nothing to do with the reason the Justice Department doesn't bring criminal copyright infringement actions. The government doesn't sue people for copyright infringement because there are things like the education, health, and domestic security to pay for. And that doesn't even begin to account for the military.

We have a huge deficit that's getting bigger and bigger. Bush is slashing benefits for military personnel even as he's asking them to stay in the field longer and longer. File traders just aren't all that important.

Nobody else gets to have the federal government protect their intellectual property. The RIAA shouldn't either.

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