MPAA Study Calls For Piracy Patriot Act

Downloads Equal Terrorism, Drugs, Knife Fights

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A new study commissioned by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and produced by RAND links the film piracy trade to terrorism, drug cartels, and human trafficking, and calls upon governments to do more about intellectual property protection. But what it really is is another attempt to convince governments to spy on everybody on behalf of one mafia trying to muscle out other mafias.

For the most part, the study is fairly typical fear mongering, the kind used to justify calls for ISPs to police traffic on their networks on behalf of the government and entertainment companies. It goes a little farther than that, however, in that it directly calls for governments to share intelligence with entertainment companies in order to help them police piracy networks. The authors call on governments to have a “commitment to high level accountability for intellectual property protections” and “laws to grant investigators greater authority to sustain investigations, conduct surveillance, and obtain search warrants.”

In short, the study calls for a Patriot Act for the Entertainment Industry.

Studies like this in the past, including one from the MPAA that was outed for vastly inflating piracy numbers, have been used to convince legislators to pressure colleges to comply with the corporate copyright police, to pass DMCA legislation routinely abused by copyright holders as an affront to fair use, and, the least of them, to require awareness propaganda on legally purchased or rented DVDs in advance of the film—you know, those ones that treat law abiding citizens like criminals and can’t be skipped.

In addition, by linking piracy to terrorism, human trafficking, drugs, and other crime syndicates, the MPAA makes it easier for governments to use crime fighting as a mask for violations of digital privacy.

The new study in question uses “piracy” and “counterfeiting” interchangeably, though they are not the same thing, to bolster the cause. Counterfeiting is selling imposter merchandise, which would include ripped off DVDs, which there are already plenty of laws against. Piracy via download isn’t technically the same.

It begins with heavy handed tales of blood and guts horrors loosely connected with piracy: knife and spear fights in Malaysia; international slave trade in Britain (one slave master was found to have DVD counterfeiting operation going at the same time); South American Muslim terrorists writing piracy proceeds checks to Hezzbollah. The IRA, India’s D Company, the Russian mafia, all involved and making money lots of money from selling ripped off DVDs.

Here’s something from the report you probably didn’t know: DVD piracy has a higher profit margin than narcotics sales. You probably didn’t realize knock-off DVDs were selling at $150,000 per pound, did you?

The report lumps all organized crime together, which artificially boosts the impact and profitability of piracy by citing “combined” sales of illegal goods. Therefore a $100 worth of DVD sales plus a $5,000 coke sale have a combined price of $5,100, unevenly boosting the value of the DVDs.

And—shocker!—organized crime syndicates have various ways of making money, meaning that if they’re involved in one crime, they’re likely involved in other crimes, so if you track one aggressively you can track the others and nail the big crooks. While that’s true, this is where two worlds—the criminal world and the “regular guy” world—cross over, because this is how we get to a place where people’s Internet activity is carefully monitored on behalf of the copyright police.

Oh look, here’s an illegal download. Small fish, no payoff, but the download came from this person making that download and tons of others available. And that person is also a YouTube use and might be loosely related to a DVD counterfeiter, an intellectual property thief, a spammer, a hacker, a drug dealer, a money launderer, a human trafficker, and a terrorist supporter. Therefore a cabal of government, ISPs, and entertainment companies have every right to watch every move you make online so the entertainment company can protect its industry and the government can crack down on crime.

That’s unconstitutional in America, but so far legislators have sided with Big Entertainment instead of the citizens.  Big Entertainment also donates heavily to politicians, which might account for not only their acquiescence but also their apparent reluctance to enact Net Neutrality regulation that would prevent digital packet inspection.

MPAA Study Calls For Piracy Patriot Act
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