Sunday, June 14, 2009

Senator Orrin Hatch... And The Lies The Copyright Industry Tells; TechDirt, 6/12/09

Mike Masnick via TechDirt; Senator Orrin Hatch... And The Lies The Copyright Industry Tells:

"Furthermore, and more importantly, if Senator Hatch believes that "commercially-viable products created out of one's own mental processes deserve the same protection under the law as any other tangible product or piece of real estate," then clearly the Senator believes in the right to resell such property once you bought it, at a reasonable price. So if I buy a copy of a song by Senator Hatch, clearly, by his own words, I should have the right to resell it to others or to make a copy of it -- just as I have the right to make a copy of a physical chair that I buy, or to resell the chair that I have bought.

Or did Senator Hatch not mean what he said? Did he really mean that only some property rights should be granted? That is, should we only grant property rights that favor big industries at the expense of both consumer and social welfare?

[Sen. Hatch]: Appallingly, many believe that if they find it on the Internet then it must be free. I have heard some estimates cite no less than 80 percent of all Internet traffic comprises copyright-infringing files on peer-to-peer networks.

Ah, a misleading demonization. Senator Hatch has "heard some estimates." Why not cite them so that they can be responded to accurately? Perhaps because Senator Hatch knows they do not hold up under scrutiny.

[Sen. Hatch]: That is why the Pirate Bay case is so important. While the decision does not solve the problem of piracy and unauthorized file sharing, it certainly is a legal victory and one that sends a strong message that such behavior will not be tolerated.

I'm sure the Senator is quite busy, so perhaps he missed the "strong message" that was actually sent: a biased judge sided against a search engine claiming it was responsible for the actions of its users. From that, thousands of people recognized that this was a patently ridiculous scenario, and signed up as members of a political party designed to protect consumer civil rights -- allowing them to win a surprise seat in the European Parliament. Quite a strong message. It seems to be the opposite of the one Senator Hatch thinks was given.

[Sen. Hatch]: I strongly believe that if we're going to be successful in this fast-paced digital age, a solid partnership between the copyright community and the Internet Service Providers is crucial. I am confident that such a partnership can break up the current viral spread of copyrighted works on the Net.

[Sen. Hatch]: Many countries have begun to take action by working closely with ISPs to curb online piracy. For example, France has adopted a three strikes law, which calls for ISPs to suspend a subscriber's service if they are accused three times of pirating copyrighted material. Across the globe, from Japan to the UK, from Australia to Brazil, there have been engaging discussions within the industry on how best to proceed on this front.

[Sen. Hatch]: In the United States, I am encouraged with the developments that have transpired between content owners and some ISPs. Obviously, we still have a ways to go, but we are seeing a promising level of participation within the industry. I believe a flexible and free-market solution is essential if we are to be successful in this endeavor. As more of these discussions turn into actions, it is vital that these principles remain front and center.

To be fair, Hatch's speech was given the day before France tossed out the three strikes law as unconstitutional -- but that should still be instructive. The EU Parliament has made clear that cutting users off from the internet connections, especially based solely on industry accusations of infringement, represents a serious breach of civil rights. That a US Senator would support such a "guilty without proof" setup is quite troubling, and raises serious questions about his understanding of our constitutional rights."

No comments: