It appears that at least on one issue that the Tea Party lead House has decided to attempt a form of bi-partisanship that has not been apparent in their handling of fiscal matters. We have talked a great deal about fair use, intellectual property rights and the need for progressive legislation on this issue. Who would have possibly thought that anything resembling sanity would be put forth by this House. Perhaps the post election news cycles have convinced them that they need to work for the American people and not just a tiny sliver of corporate America.

According to BoingBoing.net house Republicans released: Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it (PDF) this morning.

Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it (PDF) is a position paper just released by House Republicans, advocating for a raft of eminently sensible reforms to copyright law, including expanding and clarifying fair use; reaffirming that copyright's purpose is to serve the public interest (not to enrich investors); to limit statutory damages for copyright infringement; to punish false copyright claims; and to limit copyright terms.This is pretty close to the full raft of reforms that progressive types on both sides of the US political spectrum have been pushing for. It'll be interesting to see whether the Dems (who have a much closer relationship to Hollywood and rely on it for funding) are able to muster any support for this.
From The Policy Paper:

It is a system implemented and regulated by the government, and backed up by laws that allow for massive damages for violations. These massive damages are not conventional tort law damages, but damages that are vastly disproportionate from the actual damage to the copyright producer. For example, Limewire was sued for $75 trillion, based upon Section 504(c)(1) of the Copyright Action enabling such large fines per violation. This potential award is more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877, and thus in no way corresponds to the actual demonstrated “damages,” to the record industry. By Congress creating an arbitrary statutory fine for damages the government has implemented its own system for dissuading copyright violation, above and beyond conventional tort law for a perceived “property” like right.

Just seven months ago we were debating SOPA and the heavy handedness that the government was trying to control the internet. We worked hard to defeat legislation that would put the concentration of power in a few hands and end the truly free diverse open source network of ideas that the internet is.

I can applaud republicans for finally taking a progressive stand on the issue and issuing some common sense solutions....

Until....not three hours later...

It took less than 24 hours for the entertainment industry's lobbyists to bully the House Republican Study Committee into retracting its eminently sensible copyright position paper.
From: Teller, Paul
Sent: Saturday, November 17, 2012 04:11 PM
Subject: RSC Copyright PB

We at the RSC take pride in providing informative analysis of major policy issues and pending legislation that accounts for the range of perspectives held by RSC Members and within the conservative community. Yesterday you received a Policy Brief on copyright law that was published without adequate review within the RSC and failed to meet that standard. Copyright reform would have far-reaching impacts, so it is incredibly important that it be approached with all facts and viewpoints in hand. As the RSC’s Executive Director, I apologize and take full responsibility for this oversight. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and a meaningful Thanksgiving holiday....

Paul S. Teller
Executive Director
U.S. House Republican Study Committee

So thank you republicans for offering an almost sane solution to the problem but then realizing that because it was semi-sane that it must be instantly retracted so you can "approach the problem with all viewpoints." In other words the entertainment industry cracked the whip and you guys jumped really really high. It didn't even take a full 24 hours before the retraction. I think I'll scream if I hear about big Hollywood liberals and their power to control the industry one more time. Here you had a chance to put in place real policy solutions in a bi-partisan manner but you just couldn't forget the money. Not just the money of the recording industry - not just the money from the movie lobbies - but the money from the military/industrial prison complex.


Man sentenced to 15 years in jail for selling 6 counterfeit discs

The Justice Department isn’t exactly winnings its war on intellectual property theft — the attorney general says so himself. Until then, though, that doesn’t mean they are going to start going soft.

A Mississippi man was sentenced to 15 years behind bars and another three under supervised release this week after pleading guilty to selling five counterfeit DVDs and one bootleg music CD to an undercover agent.

Patrick Lashun King, 37, was sentenced by Judge Lamar Pickard of Copiah County Circuit Court after he pleaded guilty to six counts of selling pirated material, charges that he was lobbed with after an undercover agent attempted to purchase just a half-dozen homemade copies of music and movies the defendant wasn’t authorized to have up for sale.

When investigators searched King’s home and businesses, they eventually turned up 10,510 counterfeit discs and the computer equipment they believe he used to manufacture the bootlegs. The Clarion Ledger notes that authorities also uncovered a number of weapons, including an assault rifle, from King’s Hazlehurst, MS home, but it was only the six counts of piracy that will put him away until 2027.

King’s sentencing is the second of two piracy cases resolved in Mississippi court as of late that resulted in hefty sentences for the accused. On October 31, Antwun Sharell Jones of Meridian, MS was sentenced to two years for selling a single pirated movie.

“Anyone who is selling counterfeit goods in Mississippi should be well aware by now that he or she will be arrested and will face a serious prison term,” State Attorney General Jim Hood remarked of the so-called successes.

Brad Buckles, executive vice president of anti-piracy for the Recording Industry Association of America RIAA), hailed the latest prosecution and told Hood it “demonstrates that theft of intellectual property is treated as a serious crime in Mississippi.”

The prosecution says Buckles, “highlights the fact that the individuals engaging in these activities are frequently serial criminals for whom IP theft is simply the most convenient and profitable way they could steal from others.”

Speaking before the crowd at the Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Grant Award Event in Towson, Maryland last month, US Attorney General Holder announced that the federal government would be handing out $2.4 million to more than a dozen law enforcement agencies across the country to help crack down on IP theft. Touting the Justice Department’s accomplishments under the Obama administration, Holder announced that alleged IP criminals are about to face a tough challenge if they plan on continuing to dabble in counterfeiting.

This shouldn't happen in America. This is cruel and unusual punishment to spend 15 years in prison for selling 6 dvds. We need to change our policy about copyright now so that this does not happen again. So House Republicans - you almost did the right thing today so I can almost say thank you - but you're gonna have to try a bit harder next time.

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