The lobbying/activist/obsolete-business-model-defending political wing of the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) has finally come out with a clear indisputable reason Americans should support the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that contains provisions to violate at least three of the first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution:
Failing to enact a law that assumes anyone accused of content piracy is guilty and giving the Dept. of Justice the right to make whole web sites disappear with no warning or chance to defend themselves against baseless accusations would put the security of the nation at risk.
In a blog entry posted Wednesday, RIAA Senior Executive VP Mitch Glazier dismisses a bill proposed as a less-unconstitutional alternative to SOPA because it would make the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) responsible for enforcing copyright violations overseas rather than the Dept. of Justice.
"SOPA was introduced to address the devastating and immediate impact of foreign rogue sites dealing in infringing and counterfeiting works and products. Every day that these sites operate without recourse can mean millions of dollars lost to American companies, employees, and economy, and an ongoing threat to the security and safety of our citizens. – Mitch Glazier, senior executive vice president, RIAA, Jan. 4, 2012 [emphasis mine – KF]
Clearly the devastating and immediate impact of rogue organizations pressing for the elimination of the inalienable rights on which the nation was founded is incomparably less critical to the safety and security of that nation than the threat of third-world teenagers downloading Rihanna and LMFAO.
Why the FBI, not the ITC should be in charge of arresting Chinese music pirates:
The ITC – which was created to enforce tariffs and other laws designed to even-up the balance of trade by protecting U.S. industries or un-protecting those of other countries – takes far too long to enforce anything, Glazier wrote. He cites a patent-infringement case brought by Kodak against Apple and RIM, which was filed in January, 2010 and may be resolved by September, 2012 – as an example of ITC's quickest enforcement work.
"So this is the 'expedited' process SOPA opponents are embracing as an alternative in the proposed OPEN bill?," he asked, referring to the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN), sponsored by Republican CongressmanDarrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
"Why in the world would we shift enforcement against these sites from the Department of Justice and others who are well-versed in these issues to the ITC, which focuses on patents and clearly does not operate on the short time frame necessary to be effective?," Glazier asked.
Maybe because enforcing rules on international trade are its chief responsibility? The DoJ, meanwhile, has to deal with lots of more trivial issues, prosecuting federal crimes through the office of the Attorney General, and investigating them through the FBI.
Will RIAA pay for more G-men? Or draw up badges and kick in doors itself?
Under SOPA, much of the investigatory work would be done by copyright holders, of course. No one with a responsibility for upholding the rights of the accused would have to do much of anything except approving a little paperwork to approve the deletion of web sites that have offended the RIAA.
That's a good thing, too, because, if SOPA passes (Its chances look good.), the FBI will have to paste "chase MP3 downloaders" at the top of its priority list, where it will have plenty of company from other top priorities, including the investigation of: violent crime, cybercrime, dodgy financial practices in healthcare, nearly everything dodgy on Wall Street, legal and illegal gun sales, mortgage fraud, organized crime, gang violence, violence on the U.S./Mexico border, federal law enforcement within sovereign American Indian territories, counter-espionage, public corruption and counter-terrorism.
Clearly all those special agents need something more to do just to keep the dust from gathering on the shiny cop shoes they wear with neat-looking suits cut loose enough to accommodate a Glock and bulletproof vest without ruining its line.
Where would the extra agents come from to chase down dead grandmothers the RIAA wants to prosecute for downloading content into a house with no computers in it?
Glazier didn't say.
He only said that stopping content piracy was a matter of national security, that the safety of Americans depends on the swift and successful defense of the commercial potential of his clients (giant music companies that became giant by squeezing as much money as possible from both the musicians they promote and the customers to whom they sell).
Why does content piracy threaten national security more than international cyber-espionage, cyberattacks, a raging drug war just across the Mexico-U.S. border, counter-terrorism investigations in half the countries of the Middle East and the awkward need to investigate the Wall Street companies whose financial performance is one of the few bright spots in an economy ruined by a mass conspiracy to defraud the entire global financial market for the individual benefit of a few thousand frat-boy loudmouths with Donald Trump's hair and Bernie Madoff's conscience?
Glazier didn't answer that, either. He said it and that makes it so. We might as well get used to that criterion. It's the same one that's going to get us all arrested if SOPA ever passes and it becomes a federal crime to do anything to piss off Mitch Glazier.
Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.