Friday, June 25, 2010

Obama and the Pirates...

The Obama administration has finally decided to get tough.

No, not with terrorists, not with union thugs who muscle their will at the voting booth. No, not even with Somali pirates. No, the Obama administration has decided to get tough with the real menace to our way of life: people who illegally download music:
After countless lobbyist dollars from the music and film industry and a brief "public review", the administration rolled out its vision to fight piracy yesterday afternoon. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden -- whose blunt speech has sometime left him in trouble -- did not mince words.

He states, "This is theft, clear and simple. It's smash and grab, no different than a guy walking down Fifth Avenue and smashing the window at Tiffany's and reaching in and grabbing what's in the window."
Somehow I cannot recall a shoplifter, or for that matter, many murderers, getting pinched with a $250,000 fine and a decade in jail.

Don't get me wrong, I know that illegally downloading stuff is wrong, but really, shouldn't the punishment fit the crime?

The article goes on to say
According to the Obama administration, the RIAA, and MPAA, the world economy is pretty much doomed if we don't start prosecuting pirates at home and abroad. Without such a crackdown, businesses will go bankrupt the coalition argues. Biden states, "Piracy hurts, it hurts our economy."
But at the same time,
Interestingly, the statements seem to fly in the face of a recent Government Accountability Office study released to U.S. Congress earlier this year, which concluded that there is virtually no evidence for the claimed million dollar losses by the entertainment industry. That study suggested that piracy could even benefit the economy.
So, is this latest initiative a move on Obama's part to appease his Big Hollywood constituency, or may there be a darker motive at work here? I think there may be a bit of both. In order to implement this policy, Obama & Co. will take the responsibility for prosecuting illegal downloading away from record and movie companies, and will instead make it a law enforcement issue; thus placing the bill for enforcement directly to the taxpayer's feet. As for the darker side,
Another noteworthy study from three years back notes that virtually every citizen violates intellectual property laws in some way on a daily basis.

The White House press release was full of buzz phrases, but short on details. It did however indicate that the U.S. government may increasingly monitor filesharing networks and BitTorrent sites and assist media groups in their prosecution/threat letter efforts. It speaks of improved "law enforcement efforts at the Federal, state and local level."
So, it's a Daily Double, of sorts. Obama gives a bone to the record and movie industry who dutifully line his campaign coffers, while at the same time giving his Big Statist Government fetish a boost by opening up a whole new venue with which to flex government muscle and control over people's lives.

A veritable match made in hell.