It's time to get absolutely angry and motivated

Posted on Friday, April 16th 2010 at 7:51 p.m.

CNET’s Molly Wood, one of my favorite sensible digital freedom commentators, has written a long but deeply meaningful commentary on recent submissions by the entertainment industry to the Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC). I would like to just copy and paste the entire article but I want to hit some of the highlights.

In essence the entertainment industry is asking the federal government to do the following:

  • install spyware on your computer that detects and deletes infringing materials
  • install mandatory censorware on all Internet connections to interdict transfers of infringing material
  • conduct border searches of personal media players, laptops and thumb-drives
  • engage in international bullying to force other countries to implement the same policies
  • provide free copyright enforcement provided by Fed cops and agencies (including the Department of Homeland Security!).

Molly Wood commented that she initially thought Gizmodo’s summary was so over the top she thought it was just internet-based fearmongering. However, after she read the original comments , she determined that Gizmodo’s commentary was pretty spot on.

I cannot put into any words suitable for this blog how angry this makes me.

For more than a decade we have been seeing the openness and functionality of the internet get more and more shackled by the entertainment industry’s paranoia over media piracy. To enumerate all the cases of loss of functionality, frivolous lawsuits, anti-competitive practices, and crushing of viable businesses would require so much data, it would make Wikipedia look like a Twitter post.

Not content on suing their customers and preventing innovative methods of media sharing and playback, the entertainment industry now wants the government to act as a copyright police officer. They want FBI and DHS resources, which are supposed to be devoted to investigation of capital crimes and protection of our borders, to be diverted to ensure that no illegal copies of “Twilight: New Moon” show up on the internet.

Quite simply these are people who have no understanding of modern technology, and who are trying to get the government to protect their outmoded crap-generating machine they call an industry. They are horse-buggy manufacturers staring at the automobile. They are passenger train manufacturers staring at the passenger airplane. They are pager manufacturers staring at the cellular phone.

To quote Molly Wood:

We are being bullied into a technological police state because these industries failed to see the technological writing on the wall, to innovate appropriately, or to follow the most fundamental rule of business: give the consumers what they want. And they have used bogus numbers, scare tactics, and the worst kind of legal intimidation to get it done.

So geeks out there must put down their controllers, stop arguing on the internet about something completely stupid, or breeding cows in Farmville, and take some action to prevent this entertainment-industry sponsored policy from becoming law. Here are my recommendations:

  1. Join the Electronic Frontier Foundation . There is no other organization that is devoted to ensuring the freedom of digital technologies and the people who want to use them to their fullest.
  2. Contact the IPEC (intellectualproperty@omb.eop.gov) and tell them you don’t want your personal safety sacrificed to protect the entertainment industry.
  3. Contact the Office of the President or your local Representative or Senator to tell them the same.
  4. Stop or reduce your patronage of RIAA and MPAA industries and instead support independent musicians and film-makers so that your money doesn’t support this type of behavior. If you like to go out to movies, get some friends together to play some tabletop games or go out to a live local show.
  5. Tell everyone you know who is a geek (and some who aren’t) to do the same.

It’s time we stopped letting these industry leeches who have made tons of money off the hard work of artists stop us from enjoying the work of those artists out of their paranoia about how they will evolve to meet the challenges of new technology.

To quote Jean-Luc Picard , the line must be drawn here  .

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