A House committee passed an anti-piracy bill yesterday that would stiffen penalties for illegally copying and distributing music and movies and would create an “intellectual property czar” at the White House level — a job that the Justice Department warned would “undermine” its independence.
The bill, introduced in December by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and 17 co-sponsors and known as the Pro IP Act, is championed by a broad base of intellectual-property holders, including entertainment companies, auto parts manufacturers, drugmakers and unions. It now heads to the House floor, and advocates hope it will pass this summer.
In addition to creating the position of IP czar, the bill would amend federal copyright law to add resources to the fight against piracy and raise the ceiling on damages that could be awarded by a civil court to a rights-holder whose work had been pirated.
It’s a sign of just how idiot-to-the-core this idea is that the Justice Department actually opposes it. Clearly the media conglomerates wanted this, and they convinced Conyers to go along with their idea by throwing in his state’s particular dying industry. The drug companies are just extra money behind it — tax dollars end up subsidizing their research anyway, and how often does anyone in the US come across counterfeit drugs?
“Intellectual Property” is a crock, an inherently unenforceable concept created out of thin air that in practice does nothing but facilitate the separation of creative content from its true creator. The music industry itself might as well be a sweatshop, as unless you’re Madonna or 50 Cent you have no leverage to get what you deserve on a label. The movie studios should really just shut up, because one look at how much they rake in despite the overwhelming suckitude of Hollywood these days shows just how much “piracy” hurts (read: zilch). In the US the only people that can download movies like that have souped-up higher-tier broadband connections, and just because they download some movies does not mean that they don’t buy DVDs — besides, in case you hadn’t noticed, thanks to the ISPs dragging their heels on network capacity, it’s kinda a hassle downloading large files, part of the reason why they actively try to dissuade people from taking literally their big flashy ads for “Unlimited access! Blazing speed!”. If their prime concern is overseas piracy then they’re even dumber than I thought: somehow I doubt the average person in China has enough money to buy the real thing anyway.
The old content regime is dead, it just doesn’t realize it yet. Eventually we’re going to get to a point where CDs, movie theaters & video rental stores are obsolete, everyone just downloads it all. People won’t distinguish between “mainstream” and “underground” musicians anymore, as they’ll have the same access to either, and compensation for their work will go directly to the artists, with no middleman. Except for a die-hard traditionalist fringe, films will be released online & downloaded directly into your TV, and it will take the same amount of effort to watch an indie flick as it will to watch the type of films that are mass released now, and star power alone will not guarantee a jackpot, so there’ll be incentive to make sure that all costs are necessary to making the film & not mere self-aggrandizement. We’ll look at this turn of events and wonder why we tolerated it any other way in the first place. Who will we have to thank for it all? Our friendly neighborhood pirates, for showing the way forward.
This bill = pissing into the wind. With your mouth open. After drinking two 40s of Olde English and eating General Tso Chicken all day.