A comprehensive post about internet piracy and copyright infringement lawsuits by Philly Law Blog has gotten me inspired. I am hoping there is a way to encourage a greater number of people in my area to avoid exposing themselves to loss of privacy and legal trouble while building something like support or consensus towards improving
copyright and internet experiences for both creative types and consumers alike.
To quote Judge Baylson during the Bellwether Trial: “I am aware of the fact that the so called blogosphere, where many people once again taking advantage of our First Amendment, and they’re not all true, but they are certainly accessible.”We are probably years away from having a functional Congress, and lobbying Congress as isolated individuals is not likely to be possible or successful unless we are individuals with deep, deep pockets. If we are likely to get anything of value from the current Congress or Obama Administration during this election season it is more transparency about what is being discussed or agreed to in the TPP on intellectual property or relating to internet rights and governance. What we do have control over is our own conduct. We can decide to reduce our exposure personally and within our households to problems we might have with the existing laws. We can decide to budget our time and resources in order to be more than frustrated, isolate individuals. We can create more options than what exists now, where the only obvious choices are to be righteous and misguided or deluded, in a semi-anonymous internet mob seeking to justify theft and punish people with different opinions or legal rights, or to accept the status quo - where commercial speech and creative works get substantially more protection than individual artists, writers (commentators, bloggers) and videographers.
I believe there is too much bad information out there about bittorrent cases. I am unimpressed with a lot of what I read online about these cases, especially by lawyers who are probably trolling for clients. While I could rant and rave about “the big mean evil trolls”, and give belly rubs to anyone who reads my blog, that’s not exactly helpful for people out there looking for accurate information about bittorrent lawsuits.
If you want the law to be an instrument of change, start a blog or lobby Congress. Law practice — the profession of providing professional representation to clients who need you — is not your personal religious crusade to change copyright law. Embarking on the defense of someone accused of copyright infringement in a way done to further one’s personal anti-copyright law agenda would be cause for moral and ethical outrage…
I am hoping to make some use of the time that remains in the current caucus to convention cycle within my state's Democratic Party to do something useful of value to myself and others, and to build towards the next few cycles, where electing and informing lawmakers, "lobbying" in essence, can be done at the grassroots without requiring huge amounts of money, but larger numbers of people agreeing to support a commonly held idea as to what the remedy should be.
My state Democratic Party is again the DFL, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. I've written before about resolutions and the platform process, the most obvious string point for getting the party to do something on issues.
Currently we have no strong positions on intellectual property in our platform. The best we have is possibly the sentiment in this part of the Ongoing Platform:
The first and third "We Support" statements under this second section (which has its own long subtitle or unifying statement)
Business and Community Development We believe American business in cooperation with working men and women can create economic prosperity. We believe the role of government is to encourage and regulate business in order to create economic opportunity for all.The entry point for resolutions to become part of the platform is either at the precinct caucus or at either the Congressional District or State Convention (by petition of the delegates at those conventions). Precinct Caucuses have already occurred in this 2 year cycle. I am a delegate to the Eight Congressional District Convention, coming up on May 3 & 4th. I will most likely not attend the State Convention because of previous engagements and a desire to let others from my county unit to get more experience there.
Reasonable regulations that encourage fair competition, ensure safety, environmental and labor standards, and prevent price discrimination
Small business development, especially ownership by members of economically disadvantaged groups
I would be willing to attempt a resolution via petition if we can come up with consensus language that actually solves a problem. Something that might be accomplished in the next two years and increase economic opportunity in my area, that might extend or enhance the utility of copyright to marginalized/economically disadvantaged groups would be ideal.
I would suggest simple like: "The DFL supports updating the file formats and increasing the size of files accepted online through the Electronic Copyright Office to include .mp4 video files and the codecs or compressions most often used by artists and independent media on sites like YouTube"
Right now the Electronic copyright office requires proprietary file formats for video that
really require videomakers to buy software to re-encode media and/or necessitate sending DVD media and delaying copyright. I would hope that a larger number of regular people holding preregistered copyright to works that would qualify for statutory penalties would help reduce the misperception that only Hollywood benefits from copyright law.