Our legal intern Victor Cohen noticed a curious juxtaposition recently:
At the same as the copyright industry was saying unauthorized copying is more of a threat than ever to economic health, the U.S. government was saying... it's not. Or at least, that there's no convincing evidence it is. Thanks to Victor for writing up this analysis, and, along the way, for calling out the GAO on their confusion of counterfeiting and unauthorized copying — a frequent problem with the U.S. government and one we've noted before.
A couple of months ago, a collection of seven entertainment industry groups including the RIAA, the MPAA, and the Screen Actor's Guild submitted a filing in response to the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator's request for comments on its upcoming "Joint Strategic Plan" to carry out its enforcement duties. Their main concern is that digital piracy "undermines our economy, steals our jobs and threatens our national interest." As a remedy, the industry puts forward a breathtakingly draconian wishlist of enforcement measures, including:
ISP-level monitoring and filtering of files or traffic, website blocking and redirection, bandwidth throttling, and monitoring software installed on individual users' computers to check for copyright infringement.
Bypassing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's notice-and-takedown procedure by allowing copyright owners to create databases of works or digital files and force ISPs — in order to qualify for the DMCA § 512 safe harbor — to automatically take down any matching content uploaded to their network and to prevent matching content from being uploaded or linked to at all.
Making the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security follow the industry's schedule by coordinating piracy interdiction efforts with new releases of blockbuster movies.
In order to argue for such a staggering array of privacy invasions, network neutrality violations, ISP-burdening expansions of the DMCA, and reallocations of federal agents away from preventing more life-threatening crimes, the industry groups that made this filing must have a solid mountain of evidence that piracy poses a major threat to the American economy and the very existence of the entertainment industry, right?