As we noted last week, the House and Senate are looking to pass the “Stop Online Piracy Act” or “SOPA” which will is a direct assault on the freedoms of speech and association in the United States.
You know it is a bad bill when people across the political spectrum are against this monstrosity. Essentially, the bill demands Internet Service Providers become government agents, watching what where you go and what you download on the internet. If you link to a YouTube video on your blog or website and that YouTube video is declared copyrighted material, the government without a warrant, hearing, trial or notice can seize your domain.
The bill is being pushed by groups such as the RIAA and the MPAA who claim they are losing billions in revenues without ever being able to prove the allegation.
This past Monday, we saw how the copyright laws are now being applied in the case of Gilberto Sanchez. Sanchez admitted to buying a pre-theatrical, unfinished version of the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine on a street corner in the Bronx, New York. He then posted the raw, unfinished video on a file sharing site and posted links to the video in several forums.
For his actions, Sanchez was sentenced to one year in federal prison.
“The federal prison sentence handed down in this case sends a strong message of deterrence to would-be Internet pirates,” U.S. attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said in a statement. “The Justice Department will pursue and prosecute persons who seek to steal the intellectual property of this nation.”
Think about that for a moment. One year in Federal prison for a movie that grossed $343 million worldwide and the government could not prove the release of raw movie damaged the movie’s gross. All they could prove was the infringement occurred.
We believe the punishment is draconian and if the SOPA passes, such punishments will become commonplace.
Unless, of course, you happen to work at the RIAA or the Department of Homeland Security.
According to CNet.com:
TorrentFreak said it used the YouHaveDownloaded.com site to find instances of IP addresses within the RIAA and the DHS linked to downloads of copyrighted content from BitTorrent.
Six RIAA IP addresses were linked to downloads of music by Jay-Z (“American Gangster”) and Kanye West (“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”), as well as the first five seasons of “Dexter,” a “Law and Order SVU” episode and tools for converting audio and tagging MP3 files, according to TorrentFreak.
TorrentFreak also said it found more than 900 unique IP addresses at DHS that were used to download copyrighted files from BitTorrent. It did not give examples of the types of content allegedly downloaded by the DHS, which is involved in fighting piracy by seizing pirate domain names. (ephasis ours)
That’s right. The RIAA, the organization that pushes for heavy handed legislation such as the SOPA, has people pirating content within their own ranks. To make matters worse, the Department of Homeland Security, the government agency tasked to help stop intellectual property theft, has people within its house doing what they are prosecuting others for – what Gilberto Sanchez is going to spend the next year of his life in prison for.
This is reminiscent of the Obama administration attack on “the wealthy” to pay more in taxes, but yet appointing wealthy people in the administration who had not paid the taxes they owed.
Ron Kirk, Timothy Geithner, Tom Daschle, Nancy Killefer, Bill Richardson, and Hilda Solis are all people the administration appointed or tried to appoint to positions within the government. All had serious tax issues which were all resolved after the fraud came to light and the miscreants paid the back taxes plus interest and fines. The amount of jail time for those who avoided paying taxes?
There is a silent war going on in this country. Beside the obvious attacks against those who someone declares are “wealthy,” the Constitution is under attack from many quarters. With the SOPA legislation, we see those who lobbied (and perhaps paid) for the legislation and those who would be enforcing it are not only breaking the proposed law, they are breaking current laws on intellectual property and copyright protection.
Will they get prosecuted? Pay a fine? Lose their job?
And with that, the fight of those privileged to be within the government against those who are not will continue.