Congress' copyright reform: seize computers, boost penalties, spend money

Discussion in 'SHH Community Forum' started by SoulManX, Dec 7, 2007.

  1. SoulManX The Inspector!

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    A bipartisan group of Congressmen (and one woman) yesterday introduced a major bill aimed at boosting US intellectual property laws and the penalties that go along with them. While much of the legislation targets industrial counterfeiting and knockoff drugs, it also allows the government to seize people's computers.

    The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (PRO IP... groan) Act of 2007 has the backing of many of the most powerful politicians on the House Judiciary Committee, including John Conyers (D-MI), Lamar Smith (R-TX), and "Hollywood" Howard Berman (D-CA).
    In addition to strengthening both civil and criminal penalties for copyright and trademark infringement, the big development here is the proposed creation of the Office of the United States Intellectual Property Enforcement Representative (USIPER). This is a new executive branch office tasked with coordinating IP enforcement at the national and international level. To do this work internationally, the bill also authorizes US intellectual property officers to be sent to other countries in order to assist with crackdowns there.


    In addition, the Department of Justice gets additional funding and a new unit to help prosecute IP crimes.
    The bill, which will have a committee hearing soon, is supposed to kick-start the copyright reform process talked about for so long. But copyright reform means one thing to the PRO IP sponsors and another to the consumer groups that have been advocating for it.
    Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, said in a statement, "seizing expensive manufacturing equipment used for large-scale infringement from a commercial pirate may be appropriate. Seizing a family's general-purpose computer in a download case, as this bill would allow, is not appropriate."
    In addition, she protests the increase in "already extraordinary copyright damages" and calls for damages to be linked more closely to actual harm suffered by copyright holders.


    The Digital Freedom Campaign,
    backed by the EFF, Public Knowledge, and the Consumer Electronics Association, was more muted in its criticism, instead choosing to praise the legislation for launching a "conversation" about copyright reform. The Digital Freedom Campaign's Maura Corbett said that meaningful copyright reform "must include limits on statutory damages and the codification of the vital principles of fair use," and she hopes that PRO IP "will serve as a catalyst to larger, more meaningful reform."
    Fortunately, at least some members of the Judiciary Committee are at least aware that the consumer groups have legitimate points to make. Berman, who chairs the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, announced that his subcommittee would hold a hearing next week on the issue.


    "As a cosponsor, I obviously feel very strongly that we must strengthen enforcement efforts to fight piracy and counterfeiting," Berman said. "At the hearing, we will be hearing testimony from both industry experts and from labor and consumer advocates to make sure that in doing so, we don't deny appropriate access to America's intellectual property."
    Who is thrilled with the bill? The MPAA, for one. MPAA head Dan Glickman, in a statement praising the new bill, said that "films left costs foreign and domestic distributors, retailers and others $18 billion a year," a significant increase from the $6 billion it allegedly costs the studios.



    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071206-congress-copyright-reform-seize-computers-boost-pen
     
  2. jaguarr Be Your Own Hero

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    The potential for abuse of this bill, particularly by lobbyist bodies and their cronies in Congress, is massive. I'm all for protecting America's IP but it doesn't seem like they've put enough controls around this to keep it from becoming corrupted and abused. That the MPAA is excited about it should be your first clue to that.

    jag
     
  3. SoulManX The Inspector!

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    Another BS bill and more waste of tax money:o
     
  4. jaguarr Be Your Own Hero

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    I'm really tired of big government, to be honest. We've got dollars for this, but we can't afford to improve our education system, take care of the homeless problem, or fix healthcare of the social security system. Really, really the wrong domestic focus of our limited available resources and tax dollars, to be honest.

    jag
     
  5. SoulManX The Inspector!

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    I agree it just seems nothing really changes...besides them trying to limit our freedoms.:cmad:
     
  6. jaguarr Be Your Own Hero

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    Well, this isn't so much about limiting people's freedoms as it is catering to the lobbyists, which I also have a major issue with. I don't disagree that there is a large problem with intellectual property being misappropriated in this country both within it's borders and from other nations. However, this strikes me as a misguided attempt to address that that would be ineffectual at best and possibly enable even more draconian influence and targeting of American consumers by groups like the RIAA and MPAA who use government agencies and laws to enforce and prop up their outdated business models at it's worst. THAT I have a major issue with.

    jag
     
  7. SoulManX The Inspector!

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    It still confounds me why Congress still allows lobbying:huh:
     
  8. jaguarr Be Your Own Hero

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    Well, a certain amount of it is necessary to at least let the policy makers know the needs of Corporate America, which are important. The problem is that it has taken over the system, is completely corrupted with lobbyists and companies having politicians practically on their payroll, and is now driving policy in the interest of Corporate America almost exclusively rather than doing what is best for the country and it's citizens overall. It's rife with unethical (and probably illegal) practices and it's ruining our country.

    jag
     
  9. SoulManX The Inspector!

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    I see...
     
  10. Steve Rogers Registered

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    I agree with this to an extent. Piracy is a crime and it needs to be enforced, but seizing someone's personal computer--based on what? A hunch?--seems like going to far. But is there another way to enforce laws like this? I can't see away to do it that won't encroach on someone's privacy in some way.

    Is it me or has the government been getting "big brother" happy lately? Every time I turn around there is a new piece of legislation giving the government rights they were never intended to have.

    Where is that racist piece of s**t Jefferson when we really need him?
     

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