We’ve been working our way through a paper released last week by the Commerce Department, concerning copyright reform, and will have a much more detailed post about it soon (there’s a lot in there), but over at the Washington Post, they’re highlighting the silly recommendation to bring back the plan to make unauthorized streaming a felony. This was a part of SOPA and was widely discussed. It wasn’t technically in PIPA, but there was something of a “companion” bill from Senator Amy Klobuchar that effectively had the same thing. This got a fair amount of attention when Justin Bieber was asked about the law, and said that Klobuchar should be locked up.
It’s no surprise that this is coming back. It’s one of the points that’s been raised a few times since the death of SOPA. As we explained back during the original debate, there are different “rights” associated with copyright law, including distribution, reproduction, etc. For very good reasons, when the government put in sections on what could be considered criminal infringement, they left the “public performance” right off of the list of possible felonies. And that’s because it’s fairly absurd to consider a felonious public performance of a work. But, because of the rise of streaming sites, and the continued myopia of the entertainment industry, they’re afraid that sites that embed works from elsewhere might not be seen as technically violating the distribution or reproduction rights (for good reason), and thus they want to elevate public performance as a felony to try to let the feds go after such sites.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. The main problems are two-fold:
(1) IP chapter: Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate.
(2) Lack of transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy.
The twelve nations currently negotiating the TPP are the US, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam. The TPP contains a chapter on intellectual property covering copyright, trademarks, patents and perhaps, geographical indications. Since the draft text of the agreement has never been offically released to the public, we know from leaked documents, such as the February 2011 draft US TPP IP Rights Chapter [PDF], that US negotiators are pushing for the adoption of copyright measures far more restrictive than currently required by international treaties, including the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
As a pro-marijuana activist, it’s a joy to watch the Berlin Weed Wall come tumbling down. I even found some pleasure this week in Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement for reduced sentencing for non-violent drug offenders.
It’s not everyday some liberty is yielded back to the people, however small. Yet my joy is tempered by cynicism.
The private prison-industrial complex could not have been happy with Holder’s recent announcement, but there’s a strange silence. There’s not a single bought-and-paid-for politician coming to the defense of longer prison terms for non-violent drug offenders. So what gives?
Surely there must be intense lobbying efforts underway to stop this. I mean, any industry evil enough to bribe judges to throw innocent children in cages would clearly scratch and claw for every dollar of potential profit, right?
But what if they can replace drug offenders with other warm bodies — like copyright offenders (file sharers)? The NSA likely has a whole list of offenders ready to go. They’re an easy target as they don’t typically travel in armed cartels. Who cares that they, too, are non-violent offenders? Make file sharing a felony, says the Obama Administration.
The Washington Post reports:
You probably remember the online outrage over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) copyright enforcement proposal. Last week, the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force released a report on digital copyright policy that endorsed one piece of the controversial proposal: making the streaming of copyrighted works a felony.
On Tuesday, the Texas House added three amendments to the CISPA-like bill flying through the Legislature. Clearly, all the attention now directed at this terrible bill is spurring action by state lawmakers. But the amendments completely fail to address the bill’s serious privacy violations and some make the bill even worse.
This amendment changes the target of government seizures from “an electronic communications service” to a “remote computing service”. All this does is make it more clear that websites not based in Texas are going to be forced to comply with this bill.
The amendment also appears to remove the limit on how far back the state could seize personal records. The bill previously only applied to electronic communication that was less than 180 days old (so it prevented really old fishing expeditions). Under this version of the bill, it appears the government could seize years - or even the totality - of a person’s online communication. This is a terrible change.
The amendment also made an important change by removing the ability of a “Designated law enforcement office or agency” to collect the data, leaving it to authorized peace officers. But this doesn’t improve the bill very much - authorized peace officers are state agents who also should not be empowered with these broad abilities to seize private communications. It removes the ability for some political hack in a specific office or agency to file a request for electronic information - which is a good thing - but doesn’t address the glaring privacy violations in this bill.
According to the committee’s spokesperson, Susan Phalen, (via The Hill), these secret hearings are not uncommon and “sometimes they’ll need to bounce into classified information and go closed for a period of time to talk.”
She said that in order to keep the flow of the mark-up — where rewrites to proposed legislation are made — the committee cannot suddenly stop, order every person and member of the media out of the chamber, only to be brought back in later once the discussions are back on unclassified territory.
The internet is the LSD of the 21st century. With its creation, great truths beautifully colourful and dark revelations have slithered and soared out of the cracks and crevasses of the dealings and imaginations of man that no one has ever heard or seen. This small contribution to the virulent habits of information especially in its golden age may inspire those who are willing to research and experience the subjects of which are most intriguing or most disturbing to the viewer.