DMCA and IPPA vs the USA

Instead of following the suggestion of a coalition of tech companies, academics and computer programmers that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was too oppressive and should be scaled back, congress is now determined to EXPAND the powers of the federal government to combat copy protections through a new amendment to the DMCA. IPac has recently gotten a hold of the new bill entitled The Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2006 (IPPA) and it’s worse than anyone could have imagined.

This is part of a recent mailing from IPac:

This is a concerted effort to escalate Hollywood’s war on America by creating a generation of criminals and sending them off to jail. That’s right: the “Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2006” (IPPA, link to bill below) would double the authorized prison terms for existing copyright infringement, create a host of new offenses, and establish a division within the FBI to hunt down infringers. The Members of Congress in the pockets of the Hollywood cartels want to divert $20 million a year and FBI agents from fighting real criminals.

The link to that bill is Game Jackal. This program allows me to create a profile of the games that require original CDs and will mimic them when I play them in the future. Now I can safely put away my originals and play without concern about damaging those precious discs. However, under this new amendment, it will be ILLEGAL for me to possess this software, the expanded punishments including the destruction of my computer and 10 years in jail.

The problem is that the RIAA and the Movie Industry believe that NO copyright infringement is acceptable and will fight to prevent that one instance from happening by putting all of their legal customers through more and more jumps and hoops. The only ones who are being harmed are the legitimate users of the material that they’ve paid for or acquired through other legal means, copyright infringement still continues on.

I remember the old movie Amazon Women on the Moon. In that movie was a small vignette about ‘Move Piracy’. When the pirates stole their bounty of new movies and started playing one, the FBI warning came on and they all pointed and laughed. No one who is really out to pirate or steal movies, software or songs are going to be concerned with these types of difficulties in using them, they just find another way around it. It’s the legitimate consumer that is being punished.

When the producers of a product or service get to the point of that level of unconcern for the needs and rights of those they are producing for, one can only wonder how long they are going to survive before every one of the customers stops dealing with them altogether. Already we hear about how the music industry is taking a beating from poor record sales and the movie industry likewise. They don’t consider that it might be that their products are becoming less and less entertaining and hard to consider purchasing. Instead they want to blame it on piracy. If they could just stamp out anyone stealing their products then we’d be FORCED to purchase their mediocre garbage and smile as we do so. The reality is that we are finding other forms of entertainment in our lives.

Here are some more of the changes included in the IPPA as detailed by CNET’s Declan McCullagh:    

The proposed law scheduled to be introduced by Rep. Smith also does the following:

 • Permits wiretaps in investigations of copyright crimes, trade secret theft and economic espionage. It would establish a new copyright unit inside the FBI and budgets $20 million on topics including creating “advanced tools of forensic science to investigate” copyright crimes.

 • Amends existing law to permit criminal enforcement of copyright violations even if the work was not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

 • Boosts criminal penalties for copyright infringement originally created by the No Electronic Theft Act of 1997 from five years to 10 years (and 10 years to 20 years for subsequent offenses). The NET Act targets noncommercial piracy including posting copyrighted photos, videos or news articles on a Web site if the value exceeds $1,000.

 • Creates civil asset forfeiture penalties for anything used in copyright piracy. Computers or other equipment seized must be “destroyed” or otherwise disposed of, for instance at a government auction. Criminal asset forfeiture will be done following the rules established by federal drug laws.

 • Says copyright holders can impound “records documenting the manufacture, sale or receipt of items involved in” infringements.

The original DMCA was horrible to begin with. While it was suppose to combat circumvention of copyrights it was used during the past seven years not against pirates but consumers, scientists and legitimate competitors.

According to the group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in their brief entitled Unintended Consequences: Seven Years Under the DMCA the anti-circumvention provisions have been used to stifle several legitimate activities. It is a major threat to several important public policy priorities. They state with glaring examples that:

 • The DMCA Chills Free Expression and Scientific Research – One of the examples given is the Sony Rootkit Vulnerability that many may remember. Because of the DMCA, the person who discovered the vulnerability had to spend several weeks discussing the impact of detailing the exploit with lawyers as it may have violated the DMCA.

• The DMCA Jeopardizes Fair Use – No longer are we allowed to make backup copies of our games or DVD movies legally, to do so violates the DMCA even in cases of Fair Use, until a Supreme Court looks at the issue and resolves which law is constitutional and which isn’t.

• The DMCA Impedes Competition and Innovation – One of the reasons you have to get a new phone if you change your cell carrier is because of the DCMA. Several threats and one actual lawsuit was filed by cell carriers against people who have attempted to circumvent the locking of the phones to specific carriers.

I urge everyone to become familiar with the DMCA and this proposed amendment and decide for yourselves if this is harmless copyright protection or further infringements on the rights of Americans to live their lives with as little government intrusion as possible. Don’t take just my word for it, do your own research, determine for yourself what level of infringement you are going to allow in your personal lives.

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