The United States government is still wrestling with the tricky problem of intellectual property rights in the digital age, and so the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (also known as the Copyright Czar) has asked the big players in intellectual property to submit proposals full of steps the government could take to curb pirates and other copyright infringers.
The joint proposal from the MPAA and RIAA is, as one might suspect, the sort of thing that wouldn’t seem amiss coming out of the mouth of a black clad man with one cataract-filled eye, who sits in a swivel chair at one end of a glossy conference table and strokes a white Persian cat. Once he finishes speaking, his henchmen drag you away from your computer, screaming.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a good rundown article of the proposals, which include:
- Encouraging consumers and network administrators to install what basically amounts to spyware that would identify unlicensed files.
- Encouraging consumers and network administrators to filter web content, a method that is at best shoddy in execution, and in most cases easily worked around by anyone actively interested in grabbing a free mp3 or movie.
- Using the customs process as an unavoidable education in “the threat to our economy (and to public safety) posed by counterfeit and pirate products,” and requiring travelers to declare any “pirate or counterfeit items,” which of course includes songs on your iPod and any DVDs you burned to your laptop hard drive to watch on the plane.
- Exerting political pressure on the governments of other countries with less regulation than the US.
- Creating an “interagency task force [to] work with industry to coordinate and make advance plans to try to” stop the inevitable wave of attempted and successful piracy that accompanies the launch of highly anticipated movies. The task force would be able to “react swiftly with enforcement actions where necessary.”
Of course, these are just proposals made by the people who stand to gain the most from restricting intellectual property enforcement, and are nowhere near becoming actual law. But they are an informative look at what the MPAA and RIAA would like to get away with, if they could: a near Orwellian grip on the consumer that is sure to hinder, inconvenience and/or seriously harm many, many more innocents than it catches criminals.