Thursday, January 21, 2010

RIAA, MPA and Verizon Against Information Pirates - I Hope

"Verizon Terminating Copyright Infringers' Internet Access"
Threat Level, Wired (January 20, 2010)

"Verizon is terminating internet service to an unknown number of repeat copyright scofflaws, a year after suggesting it was not adopting a so-called graduated-response policy.

"While it was not immediately clear whether other internet service providers were following suit, the move comes as the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America are lobbying ISPs and Congress to support terminating internet access for repeat, online copyright offenders.

"All the while, the United States has been privately lobbying the European Union to 'encourage' so-called three strikes policies, according to leaked documents surrounding a proposed international intellectual property accord...."

The article is fairly short: Bottom line, the RIAA and MPA seem to be getting their way.

As a writer and artist, I've got a rather lively interest in intellectual property rights. I'm for them. I think copyright and trademark laws are a good idea.

I also think that the RIAA shot itself in both feet, going after a none-too-wealthy woman in Minnesota because she (apparently) had a lot of copyrighted files on her computer. The last I heard, she'd been ordered to pay $222,000 USD. Jamie Thomas was making about $36,000 a year. (May 17, 2008)

Some woman in outstate Minnesota, who made about $36,000 a year, versus the American recording industry's lawyers. Who will win? Take your time.

That little spectacle reminded of the 'good old days' when the Doonsbury strip had a couple of cops find more than one marijuana seed in someone's belongings and say 'we got a dealer!' It was, I trust, an exaggeration. But an (over?)-zealous forerunner of "zero tolerance" made the gag plausible.

I'm all for protecting intellectual property rights. But get a grip: ruining some lower-middle-class woman in outstate Minnesota isn't, I think, going to send the right message.

Getting a handle on software that's pirated on a major scale? People who are undercutting recording and movie studio's business by offering copies of their products at lower - or no - cost? Yeah. I can see sanctioning that.

I sincerely hope that it's the real information pirates who get affected - not some hapless 'nobody' who makes and easy target.

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