p2pnet.net news view:- The entertainment and software cartels have collectively and singly promoted the purely commercial concept of copyright infringement into a major ‘crime’ on a par with robbery and murder. But that doesn’t mean intellectual property offences have become far more serious than in the past. Rather, it shows just how easily the cartels are able to manipulate the mainstream press and through it, public opinion.
Now they’re using organisations with absolutely no connection to music and movies to further their campaign of abusing international administrations and enforcement agencies as they work to both maintain the status quo, and gain control of how, and by whom, product is distributed online.
“The Motion Picture Assn. of America is joining forces with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a diverse collection of other industry groups to press Congress and the White House on an ambitious agenda to bolster enforcement of anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting laws,” says Paul Sweeting in ContentAgenda.com.
“At a Capitol Hill news conference here today, MPAA head Dan Glickman shared the podium with representatives from the Recording Industry Assn. of America, the National Assn. of Manufacturers and the pharmaceuticals industry, as well as the Chamber, to unveil a six-point program that, if enacted, would amount to a major realignment of federal law enforcement efforts.”
This should read, “to unveil a six-point program that, if enacted, would substantially increase the existing major realignment of federal law enforcement efforts initiated in 2003 when the music industry launched its anti-p2p, anti-consumer strikes.”
‘Difficult political challenges’
Heading the Campaign to Protect America, as the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy is calling it, is entertainment lawyer Rick Cotton, NBC/Universal’s general counsel. “Our law enforcement resources are seriously misaligned,” he states. So to straighten them out along lines better suited to vested corporate interest, the coalition wants to:
- Increase investigative and enforcement resources at DHS and DOJ, including dedicated, institutionalized IP resources in U.S. attorneys offices;
- Strengthen enforcement of counterfeiting laws at US borders;
- Increase penalties for trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods;
- Improve federal coordination of IP enforcement efforts;
- Reform civil and judicial processes to combat organized criminal trafficking; and
- Educate consumers
The major studios and record labels already have the Bush administration at their beck and call. But Bush is on his way out and to make sure they have an ongoing presence implanted in the highest levels of the US government no matter who is in power, the studios and labels now want an entertainment Czar called an “IP enforcement coordinator” set up in a permanent White House post.
The group, “faces difficult political challenges in enacting its program,” says ContentAgenda.com. But not to worry. “In deference to those potential conflicts, the coalition is not promoting a single, omnibus piece of legislation to address all of its concerns, Cotton said. Instead, it will work on different pieces of its agenda with different committees before seeking specific appropriations for specific departments.”
Unpaid copyright cops
The entertainment cartels have already suborned local and international police forces and they’re well on the way to turning America’s schools into marketing divisions, using staff as unpaid copyright cops and terrorising students to the extent that avoiding industry lawsuits is pre-empting studies. They’ll also be boosting lobbying expenditures aimed at bringing more and more US politicians into line with corporate policies. And they’re somehow managing to do all of this with nary a word mainstream media word uttered in protest.
But there’s a reason for this lack of critical reporting, and a good one. Said Mark Crispin Miller in What’s Wrong With This Picture?:
The media cartel that keeps us fully entertained and permanently half-informed is always growing here and shriveling there, with certain of its members bulking up while others slowly fall apart or get digested whole. But while the players tend to come and go – always with a few exceptions – the overall Leviathan itself keeps getting bigger, louder, brighter, forever taking up more time and space, in every street, in countless homes, in every other head.
The rise of the cartel has been a long time coming (and it still has some way to go). It represents the grand convergence of the previously disparate US culture industries – many of them vertically monopolized already – into one global superindustry providing most of our imaginary “content.”
People tend to think of the music/movie industries as being as separate entities, divorced from ‘important’ world events. However, if Ronald Reagan, an actor who owed his fame and political position to Hollywood, was the first to recognize and utilise the power wielded by the entertainment community, it’s now accepted by anyone who wants to get anywhere that gaining face time with the public is vital, at least until they get into power when they can go their own ways, or the ways of their new corporate sponsors. And that means they absently must have the media on their side.
Cartel services do not, however, come free. Payback will be demanded, sooner or later.
Independent parallel communications portal
Miller’s story was published in 2001 and although ownerships and alliances are still constantly shifting and changing, and the cartels still largely control what the offline public sees and hears, online, we’re close to reaching an international, cross-cultural critical mass.
But wait! Aren’t the corporations inexorably gaining dominance through the ISPs, new legislations, ploys such as claiming if they’re not in charge, our children will be corrupted by pornography, etc and so on? And look at the Google and Yahoos of the world, gathering more and more personal and private information about us in their cold-blooded pursuit of the advertising dollar. Don’t they have the whip hand?
Not really. An independent parallel communications portal has already developed. And it’s going mainstream. Moreover, a significant cross-section of the people being sued and vilified are the very same ones who keep the wheels of power a-turnin’ and corporate information systems online, with all that implies. They won’t forget as they themselves, or their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles and friends, are pilloried in the courts of the world, falsely accused by cartel units such as the RIAA, BPI, IFPI, etc, of being ‘criminals’and thieves’
In the same way the Net means people around the world are now able to communicate freely, thanks to corporate greed, and the need to continually supersede existing technologies, communications are becoming decentralised.
Think hand-held, localised community networks and WiFi. Think peer-to-peer.
The cartels are striving desperately to portray music and/or movie file sharing as something evil: something to be crushed. However, it’s no more than the visible tip of a far greater cultural event —— the unstoppable public dissemination of knowledge, sans corporate control.
Establishment print and electronic media depend almost wholly on corporate advertising and the goodwill of governments and their many and various agencies to survive, which means the news and information they carry is very badly skewed.
But in this new parallel universe, blogs and sites such as p2pnet carry the news and IMHO, eventually, there’ll be a huge, free Wikipedia-like Blog-cum-Web-Directory holding information categories people will tap to find out what’s happening, where to find services and products, and so on.
Millions of people around the world have already become their own sources of news and information. Blogs, home-made news sites, IM, online newsletters and a wealth of other electronic citizen media resources are leaving the traditional corporate press choking in the dust.
This isn’t revolution, its evolution, and there’s absolutely nothing the corporate dinosaurs can do about it.
As Mahatma Ghandi summed it up, first they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.
After all, they depend on us, not the other way around.
Jon Newton – p2pnet
If your Net access is blocked by government restrictions, try Psiphon from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre for International Studies. Go here for the official download, and here for details. And if you’re Chinese and you’re looking for a way to access independent Internet news sources, try Freegate, the DIT program written to help Chinese citizens circumvent web site blocking outside of China. Download it here.
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Tired of being treated like a criminal? They depend on you, not the other way around. Don’t buy their ‘product’. Do bug your local politicians. Use emails, snail-mail, phone calls, faxes, IM, stop them in the street, blog. And if you’re into organizing, organize petitions, organize demonstrations and then turn up on your local political rep’s doorstep, making sure you’ve contacted your local tv/radio station/newspaper in advance. Don’t just complain. Do something!