Donna Wentworth
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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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« CommDaily: MPAA May Not Seek Broadcast Flag in DTV Bill | Main | Teleread on the Entertainment-Copyright Complex »

June 1, 2005

We Are The Law

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

In addition to attempts (highlighted in this blog by Donna and by Ernest) to get Congress to write the laws it wants, the Cartel has gone directly into the cop business. The LA Times reports that the MPAA has given the city $186,000 to pay for pole-mounted cameras placed to spy on LA's streetside DVD bootleggers. Because, you know, the police really don't have anything else to do so they really ought to spend their time on this.

And when you can't get real law enforcement to do your legwork, do it yourself. Apparently this has been the philosophy of the Australian music industry's piracy investigations unit, which admitted in court that it had been "tailing" Sharman Networks' CEO Nikki Hemming's premises on a "continuous basis" for several months. I'm not familiar with Australian law, but in the US this isn't precisely legal. I'm particularly taken with this assertion from Speck: "Conducting an investigation into a shadowy organization hiding behind a veil of secrecy and surveillance is a normal practice." Uh, sure thing, mate... if you're the cops!

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse


1. Michael on June 1, 2005 7:28 PM writes...

Hi Alan,

I am a copyright attorney here in Australia. Great comment, Alan. The extent of the Cartel's paranoia and deluded view of what the Copyright Act is (a) meant to achieve, and (b) its scope of rights is stretched to evermore ridiculous bounds with each passing day here in Australia, just as in the States. Speck, you will unsurprised to learn is indeed an ex-drug detective in the NSW Police Service! This gumshoe stuff is all about copyright law apparently!

For another more concerning development Australian copyright scholar Alex Malik reports on this troubling case from Melbourne: The story has been reported at Kim Weatherall’s excellent blog here:

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2. Ron Coleman on June 2, 2005 1:24 PM writes...

Aw, come on. Plenty of IP owners -- especially victims of trademark counterfeiting; the only novelty here is the extension to copyright -- realize that law enforcement has better things to do but who do indeed have plenty of civil options available to them in the "self help" department. There's nothing shady about that. Information wants tuh be free, dunnit?

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3. Copyrighter on June 2, 2005 2:30 PM writes...

Yeah, defending your IP rights is bad! Especially when thieves point to the fact that not defending your IP is proof that they should be allowed to steal it. Remember when everyone criticized the RIAA for not busting street vendors? Now they're taking steps to address the street vendors and copyfighters everywhere will criticize that! We like having our cake and eating it too! We'll destroy the evil recording industry soon enough. Who are they to try and defend their economic model against our morally superior and effective technologies? Bad RIAA, Bad!

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4. Michael R on June 4, 2005 3:10 AM writes...

I don't agree with blatantly stealing, but I don't exactly agree with "copyfighter's" thinly-veiled arguments either. No one ever said stealing is the right thing to do. There is a real problem. However, there are better ways to adapt to new technology than to simply crush it. As Mike (not me) on often says, the only thing the these deals (and laws!) allow the MPAA and RIAA to do is to keep their outdated business models far longer than they should. I'm sure there are other ways to conduct business. However, since those companies live on the margin, they refuse to accept even momentary losses incurred while adapting. Also, something to keep it mind is that blatant infringers already know it's illegal, yet they do it anyway. Those people will break the law regardless. The only thing these laws and deals do enable the industry to do is to cut court costs and litigate cheaper so that they can harass thousands of normally law-abiding people/minimal sharers as well (which they do more often than not). Sad fact is, they probably spend more time and money fighting change than it would take to adapt.

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