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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.”

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…

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 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.

We Support:
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

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.

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.

Originally posted to ImpeccableLiberalCredentials on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 07:40 AM PDT.

Also republished by National Patent and Copyright Reform.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow, This May Apply to Me; Normally Not My (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cadillac64, Softlanded

    thing by a million miles, I've stumbled onto making a vid that could have some activist traction. Copyright, and keeping it protected in circulation, are serious concerns.

    I'll be back to re-read this diary later.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 07:56:26 AM PDT

  •  If you would like (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You can join the National Patent and Copyright Reform group we are trying to get started here by sending a PM to the group founder.

    No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

    by koNko on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 09:12:14 AM PDT

  •  Nuts. (1+ / 0-)

    I salute your effort to discuss the insanely messed-up issue of copyright.  Valiant, though without a doubt completely nuts.  Also, thanks for the link to 'phillylawblog' which looks to be a source for some good info and insight.

    One thing, though.  The "misperception that only Hollywood benefits from copyright law" is not an attitude held by many creators; certainly not by serious professionals, based on my 25 years as a freelance illustrator.  And getting a few more people to register their works with the U.S. Copyright Office will not do much to prevent Hollywood and other powerful commercial interests from weaponizing copyright law to serve their own bottom lines, and inflict serious economic and social harm in the process.

    "After the (job losses) and (austerity) they won't be the same human beings you remember. Slaves?. . let's just say, they'll be satisfied with less" -Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, as explained by Ming the Merciless.

    by Softlanded on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 12:32:43 PM PDT

    •  If only we had an economy with more creatives! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District often seems to have more in common with "The Hunger Games" District 12 versus "the Capitol".

      We have a paucity of opportunity in media and our leaders are very focused on resource exploitation, creating more jobs mining, logging, some light manufacturing. We do have a need for more independent, citizen journalism, and I've run up against the limitations I've described with electronic copyright while trying to fill this need through a very underfunded cable access channel in Bemidji.

      I think too many people in our area are breaking their budget to take advantage of decent last mile internet speeds, and don't have enough money left over to subscribe to netflix and HBO. We are susceptible to peer pressure to watch what everyone else is watching or listening to, and some might believe what they are paying for is access to the torrent sites. On the other hand we also have the spectacular judgment against a local woman, Jammie Thomas in Brainerd, MN that nearly went to the Supreme Court over what seems to many harsh statutory damage penalties she may never be able to pay given local economic conditions.

      I liked finding out how TheUptake, in Minnesota's own Capitol City both got it's content out to broader audiences and discovered a revenue stream in licensing some of its nonprofit citizen journalism products.

      I think we have a lot of tension in our relationship with Hollywood. Having Senator Al Franken represent us leaves him open to that line of attack but he can also make it very human - he was a comedy writer as much as a television star. He's personally familiar with copyright.

      •  If Only We Had a More Creative Economy! (1+ / 0-)

        While my experience with the Copyright Office is limited to 2D artwork, I need no further convincing that things could very definitely be simpler and more user-friendly over there.

        It would be great if copyright registration was easier.  However, what happens after that is of greater importance; that's where the rubber of copyright law meets the road.  And that's where Hollywood, the telecoms, and other IP interests are hard at work making more of a mess of copyright than already exists.  I was recently involved with an arts group that thought highly of the Copyright Alliance and other supposedly creator-friendly organizations; groups that turned out to be fronts designed to sell the interests of big media and telecom corporations.  If you aren't already aware of this, be advised that there's plenty of classic astroturfing being done over copyright, and sorting out the malicious disinformation from the merely uninformed opinion is going to be no small thing for any of us.

        In terms of "bang for the buck" in deciding which efforts will benefit your constituents the most, copyright is likely to play only a supporting role to the issues of broadband access, affordability of service, and net neutrality.  Speaking for only myself as a creator of 2D art, I lose zero sleep due to concerns over unauthorized copying or distributing of my work.  Without exception, all my clients are terrified of copyright ownership problems, and make sure the law is followed.  If "theft" and "piracy" were the real big problems that supporters of SOPA and TPP claim they are, this would not be the case.  While musicians, authors, and photographers are subject to different dynamics than myself, I do feel safe in stating that more than anything else, we need vibrant, open, competitive markets for our creativity, and neutral internet service that does not allow a handful of goliaths to suppress competition and crowd out potential clients.  

        "After the (job losses) and (austerity) they won't be the same human beings you remember. Slaves?. . let's just say, they'll be satisfied with less" -Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, as explained by Ming the Merciless.

        by Softlanded on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 04:52:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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