sub specie aeternitatis

Intellectual Property Crimes

October 11, 2004

More legislation is passing through Congress that will surely benefit the big media companies and do nothing for the general public and public domain. Lawrence Lessig has a roundup of the most recent legislation aimed at helping the media companies enact stiffer penalties on those caught stealing intellectual property.

One of the most absurd portions of all this legislation is the Internet Use Education Program. From the bill:

(a) Establishment- There shall be established within the Office of the Associate Attorney General of the United States an Internet Use Education Program.

(b) Purpose- The purpose of the Internet Use Education Program shall be to–
(1) educate the general public concerning the value of copyrighted works and the effects of the theft of such works on those who create them; and
(2) educate the general public concerning the privacy, security, and other risks of using the Internet to obtain illegal copies of copyrighted works.

This program will be a complete waste of taxpayer money. If the ad counsel’s anti-drug ads are questioned on their effectiveness against drug use, then how will effective will a program educating people on the evils of copyright theft have any hope to be successfull at all? Drug ads can show the negative effects of drug abuse on individuals to try to change minds. What will you show people to get them to believe in your message of intellectual property? The big heads of the media companies who push these programs certainly don’t suffer from financial loss themselves, and the most popular artists whose music is most downloaded on p2p networks are hardly struggling to make it financially. It’s almost funny, really. Despite the DMCA, suing users of p2p networks, and passing more legislation, the big media companies are not even remotely close to stopping the rampant piracy they claim is destroying their business.