Emails Show U.S. Copyright Czar Was Very Close With Content Industry
A few months ago, Hollywood and a few major record labels banded together. They did this to urge ISPs to disrupt the internet connection for anyone trying to break copyright laws. This means people illegally downloading music or movies. This coming at a time when peer-to-peer file sharing is increasing among kids, and even more lawsuits are being thrown around.
This is not very surprising, when you look at the surface. Hollywood banded together with some major record labels and implored ISPs to stop people from pirating stuff that is theirs. While some of the filters ISPs were using were rather vague, it was a good effort to try and stop people from illegally downloading music and films. When you look into the issue closer, though, you find something that is a little more sinister than companies looking out for themselves, you find the government.
According to documents released (internal e-mails), key administration officials, including the U.S. Copyright Czar all played active roles in the negotiations that lead to ISPs disrupting internet services to those suspected of illegally downloading music or film. One of these officials used her own personal email to speak with lobbyists from a variety of companies, one of those being AT&T.
While a lot of the emails text contents have been blacked out, they show that a great range of Administration officials were involved and in the loop of everything going on. A lot of them contain emails that suggest there was a friendly agreement between the administration and the industry.
After the story was broken by Wired, who contacted the Copyright Czar and OMB (Office of Management and Business) but received no response, this response was given stating that the Czar was just doing her job.
“These e-mails show Victoria Espinel implementing precisely the work outlined in the administration’s 2010 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement. In order to effectively serve as the intellectual property enforcement coordinator, Espinel communicates with a wide range of federal, state and local officials, with Congress, and with a wide variety of stakeholders including consumer and public interest advocates, labor unions, academics, and the private sector. The office has effectively brought diverse groups together to discuss voluntary actions to reduce intellectual property theft that costs American jobs, hurts the nation’s economy and in some cases threatens the health and safety of the American public.”
I don’t know about most of the reading audience, but downloading a song that would usually cost $.99 on iTunes in no way threatens the health and safety of the American public. In fact, I have never heard of anyone who has committed “Intellectual property theft” and hurt the health and safety of the American public. Furthermore, it is clear that the government is working in conjunction with these companies to prevent something that ISPs can not fully identify or prevent. In some cases ISPs have been known to accidentally identify a perpetrator who is completely innocent. While the plan does have multiple steps before the ISPs start throttling and disconnecting users from their internet connections, it still is very scary to think that an industry has the power to lobby the government into letting them do this. These ISPs are not just looking for key words, they are monitoring internet usage, the people’s internet usage. If the government had a hand in helping the industry achieve this goal, there’s a good chance all of that monitoring is going directly into their hands.
The funny thing here is that multiple government officials have been known to pirate their own music, and nothing has been done to stop them. So, where is the justice for those government officials who have pirated music?
The emails can be found here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/68682207/White-House-E-mail
The original story can be found here: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/10/copyright-czar-cozies-up/