×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Justice Department Promises Stronger Copyright Punishments

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the dancing-the-big-business-polka dept.

United States 322

An anonymous reader writes "Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has stated that the Justice department will be getting even harder on copyright infringement, targeting repeat offenders. The new 'Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007' is headed for Congress promising to 'hit criminals in their wallets' hoping to ensure that any 'ill-gotten gains' are forfeited.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

322 comments

Nobody panic (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121531)

Alberto Gonzalez will forget he ever said this in a month.

Re:Nobody panic (3, Interesting)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121537)

That guy still hasn't resigned? Hasn't he already done enough damage?

He may not get to resign (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19121729)

It is pretty much proven that he is responsible for firing several government lawyers because they pissed off Republican politicians. That is bordering on criminal. He could be impeached. He could be thrown in jail.

He has George Bush's backing but so did Rummy and then Boom he was gone.

Re:He may not get to resign (1)

ratsnapple tea (686697) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121903)

Who gives a shit? Let's just grit our teeth and fucking book it through the next one and a half years. Little reform of the executive will be accomplished as long as the direction from the top continues to be so stubborn in its denial of popular reality—and nothing we've seen since this fucker's first inauguration has shown he can be anything but.

Re:He may not get to resign (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19122001)

Officials that work for the President serve at the will of the President, the President can fire anyone that works under him at anytime for any reason. If they look at him wrong, they can be fired because he feels like it.

Re:Nobody panic (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19121733)

That guy still hasn't resigned? Hasn't he already done enough damage?


Why? I've heard that he's doing a "heck of a job"...

Re:Nobody panic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19121653)

Remember, he's another Bush toy.

Re:Nobody panic (1, Funny)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121681)

Isn't a Bush toy like a vibrating dildo?

Re:Nobody panic (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122235)

Well it does seem that things that go in vaginas do make good pejoratives. So I think I'll call him cucumber. Unless he's being a real coke bottle instead.

Stronger Punishments Except: +1, Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19122071)

for these Thugs [whitehouse.org] .

Vigiliantingly yours,
Philboyd Studge

Who is this aimed at? (1)

queenb**ch (446380) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122225)

Does this mean that the RIAA will quit going after college students who are downloading music for their own use? Does this mean that the RIAA will start going after people who frequent every train and bus stop I see selling home-made compilations of music and movies that are sold on plain jane spindle discs (CD's and DVD's)?

2 cents,

Queen B.

It's come to this? (2, Interesting)

twilight30 (84644) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121581)

Holy fuck, this is how far he's fallen? He'll be going after the pr0n mavens next! Oh wait ...

Where are your values? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19121843)

This is the guy who (amongst other things), OK'd torture and thumbed his nose at the Geneva conventions on behalf his masters and you people get all upset about his copyright stance? Talk about a moral abyss.

it's a good thing ... (4, Interesting)

darkuncle (4925) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121587)

that the scale of problems facing our nation is so trivial that federal law enforcement can afford to waste their time^W^W^Wgive this matter the attention it deserves ...

Re:it's a good thing ... (2)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121651)

How about they work on something more useful like preventative measures for identity theft. I'm not talking about the consumer level, but rather the banking industry. There are banks I will not do business with because of their track record losing data unencrypted off of UPS trucks, etc. How about retail chains who have employees steal checking accounts and make new checks with their name on it! Fraud is much worse than a little copyright infringement.

Or even on voter fraud. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121765)

In the grand scheme of things, chasing down KIDS who share mp3's just doesn't seem as important as establishing Federal guidelines for voting machines.

Re:it's a good thing ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19121897)

Law enforcement in America is not about solving real problems. We've got the world's highest per-capita prison population, and a very large percentage of those people are imprisoned for the vicious crime of -- get this -- possessing plant leaves.

From the article:

'He also said he would "hit criminals in their wallets" by boosting restitution and ensuring all ill-gotten gains are forfeited, as well as any property used to commit the crimes.'

Now... where have we heard that before? Oh yes, that sounds just like the drug laws that let police seize your house if they find you had marijuana inside it.

Does this mean your computer (and possibly your home) can be taken by government officials when you've pirated a few too many MP3s? Or written DVD-playback software for Linux?

In any case, this will give law enforcers another tool, like the "War on Drugs" and the "War on Terror," to make their jobs as all-encompassingly powerful and unaccountable as possible.

Re:it's a good thing ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19122075)

...and lucrative. Don't forget that some of those forfeited vehicles are used for "official business" now by police chiefs et al. Don't you think it's reasonable that if you download a song that you give your Lexus to your local law enforcement?

Re:it's a good thing ... (1)

Tigwyk (855379) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122427)

Yes but the "War on Copyright Infringement" just doesn't sound as cool as the "War on Drugs" and the more recent "War on Terror".

If the U.S. actually releases anything to the public about the "War on Copyright Infringement", the world's going to think Bush has gone soft... and the repercussions that come with that will be humorous at best, painful at worst.

Am I the only one who thinks that the UN should regulate how many "wars" a country can have going at any one time? Perhaps say... 3. That'll smarten the U.S. up and force 'em to finish wars before starting new ones. All these wars are clogging up the pipes.

You think infringement is trivial? (2, Interesting)

Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121965)

Your government believes that intellectual property is important, and for the most part, they're exactly on the money. Part of America's progress as a world power (if not hegemony) is its exports in information.

Imagine, if you will, that you are leading America in an age where manufacturing has become either trivial and moved offshore, or incredibly complex with the use of robotics and other such things developing nations are not yet good at. What would you do? Intellectual property, even if you don't agree with the term, is important; and although we primarily see lawmakers' views on the issue extending to DRM, audio, and video piracy, I don't think that's their only consideration.

America's cultural exports are powerful and at least worth protecting in some way. But it's more than that. It's about maintaining a leading role in research, development, technology, infrastructure, information technology, and a host of other things. And even though I think the US could use a hell of a lot better implementation to achieve these ideals (especially in regards to the next generation and their schooling), I have to agree that IP infringement is an important issue, and a complex issue.

What about when there are NO monetary gains? (5, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121593)

That's all well and dandy for those pirates who actually make money off of piracy- but that's a small percentage of the pirates out there. The grand majority are either making use of what used to be considered fair use: Mix CDs and tapes for friends, backups of media purchased legally, copies for educational use, etc. If you're going to crack down on piracy and hit them in the wallets so to speak, what do you do when the wallet is empty and has never had any cash in it?

Re:What about when there are NO monetary gains? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121735)

Make you pick up the soap?

In reality, there isn't a problem with setting up a fund to pay off your debts for years to come?
The few people I remember getting fined for crimes ended up paying a weekly sum and had the threat of big nasty bailiffs knocking on their door if they didn't pay.

Re:What about when there are NO monetary gains? (3, Funny)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121865)

That's all well and dandy for those pirates who actually make money off of piracy- but that's a small percentage of the pirates out there. The grand majority are either making use of what used to be considered fair use: Mix CDs and tapes for friends, backups of media purchased legally, copies for educational use, etc. If you're going to crack down on piracy and hit them in the wallets so to speak, what do you do when the wallet is empty and has never had any cash in it?

Significant percentages of their paychecks signed over to the *IAA every month, of course, via garnishments. Likely collected by the government on behalf of the plaintiffs to avoid it getting cancelled out by bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 will wipe out a lotta stuff, but not things like child support, student loans turned over for government collection, and Infernal Revenue garnishments for repayment of taxes. And no, IANAL, but I've had personal experience in this area.

Is it too late for me to start my own record/movie company and get in on this payday????

Re:What about when there are NO monetary gains? (5, Insightful)

Bent Mind (853241) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121963)

I wonder which definition General Gonzales is using when he states "hoping to ensure that any 'ill-gotten gains' are forfeited". Is he using the traditional definition where you pay restitution based on proven damages, or is he using the "War on Drugs" definition where all of your personal property is forfeit to the government for sharing a single MP3 file?

Hmm... No. (2, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122015)

That's all well and dandy for those pirates who actually make money off of piracy- but that's a small percentage of the pirates out there. The grand majority are either making use of what used to be considered fair use: Mix CDs and tapes for friends, backups of media purchased legally, copies for educational use, etc.

Of the three things listed - only one has ever been considered (under the law) to be fair use. To wit: making backup copies. (C'mon, handing out mix tapes? That's distribution - that's distribution, which is about as blatant as copyright infringement comes.)

Re:Hmm... No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19122205)

You're right of course, although your insightful viewpoint doesn't conform much to the /. knee-jerk reaction. I shake the feeling that this new law is going to be used more against Joe "burning CD's for my buddies" Sixpack than it will be against corporations who make millions infringing copyright/IP (I'm looking at your software industry).

Drop the hammer on them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19121605)

That's what I say. We need some sort of "three strikes, your out" law for this. Though, I'd reduce the "your out" part to say, 20 years.

Re:Drop the hammer on them (2, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121635)

If you're referring to the Attorney General, I agree 100%

Re:Drop the hammer on them (3, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121905)

If you're referring to the Attorney General, I agree 100%

I've always been a supporter of two-term presidents (and their staffs):

One term in office.
One term in jail.

Re:Drop the hammer on them (5, Funny)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121859)

We need some sort of "three strikes, your out" law for this.

Absolutely!

If you get caught smoking pot or drinking under age.

Then sex with a minor (even if you're one too): 17 yr old sex with 15 yr old - 10 years [go.com]

And downloading a song. Why you should die! Put to death! Because the law is the law and laws are just and true! Why, all of the lobbyists in Washington just want what's best for us and so do our legislators.

And if it's illegal then that means it's EVIL and must be banned because our politicians are infallible! It's inconceivable that they would even make a mistake and violate our liberties. Why, if you disagree with the law, you're unAmerican and HATE freedom!

Re:Drop the hammer on them (1)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122081)

YES! Finally, someone with a clear view on the situation! Bush and Co are out for our interests!!

Four more years! Four more years! Wait, what do you mean its illegal for bush to be president again?

What!? No Im not evil, I didn't even realize...stop it! Dont take me to Jail, I didn't do anything wrong! What the hell is that fommmmMMmHHMM!

MMMhhhmmmm MMmmHHhhhMMm Hmmmm!

Great thinking, guys (5, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121613)

Because if the $100,000 maximum fine per infringement isn't a strong enough deterrent, maybe $200,000 will do the trick, right?

In other news, the State of Texas will now kill you *twice* if the crime is *really* serious.

ill-gotten gains??? (2, Interesting)

MooseTick (895855) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121625)

"promising to 'hit criminals in their wallets' hoping to ensure that any 'ill-gotten gains' are forfeited."

Perhaps I am mistaken, but aren't most copyright infringers/violaters people doing it for their own personal gains. While there are some people who sell copyrighted stuff they don't own, I suspect 99% of the violations are from kids who share/download music that they weren't authorized by the copyright holder to do so.

Re:ill-gotten gains??? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121961)

Yes, and they got them through unacceptable methods, which is why they're ill-gotten :P Remember, the movie has a value of x dollars, so to the justice department's way of thinking, if you avoided paying those x dollars, you profited by x dollars.

Re:ill-gotten gains??? (3, Funny)

fotbr (855184) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122131)

Just to play devils advocate -- What if its a really crappy movie? One that you, say, value at $5, not the $29.99 the MPAA wants for a new release? For that matter, is the value of a movie higher if its not out on DVD yet? Whats its value if the movie isn't even in the theaters yet? Do they get to bill you for the entire production cost?

I don't watch many movies, and the ones I do watch, I already own, or I happen to catch them on TV. I'm sure the MPAA will blame it on piracy, but I simply don't buy movies anymore because they're not worth it. Someone starts talking about $CelebrityOfTheWeek I'd have to go google them to figure out who the hell it is, but I don't care enough to.

Oh, and get off my lawn.
Young whippersnappers, always causing problems.
Uphill, snow, both ways...

Re:ill-gotten gains??? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122167)

Just to play devils advocate -- What if its a really crappy movie? One that you, say, value at $5, not the $29.99 the MPAA wants for a new release?

IANAL, so elefino. I would guess that the only potential defense would be based on the average price consumers are actually paying. But since the penalties for copyright law are not based on the retail cost of the media or any other measurement of its actual value, the point is moot.

For that matter, is the value of a movie higher if its not out on DVD yet?

After the government gets done finding you guilty of criminal copyright infringement, the studio may well come after you for "actual" damages based on damage done to the salability of their film based on your distribution thereof, in a civil case. This isn't going to happen if it's a copy of a retail copy.

Do they get to bill you for the entire production cost?

Depending on the production cost and the expected profits, they could conceivably sue for more than the production cost depending on the breadth of your distribution.

Murders and rapists (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19121637)

Yes, make the punishment harder, so they have a harder punishment than rapists, pedophiles, and murders? -rolleyes-

Corruption at the Justice Department. The laws are to protect the citizens. The citizens do not want strong copyright punishments. That is what the big media corporations want.

Wrong again. (1, Troll)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122091)

The laws are to protect the citizens. The citizens do not want strong copyright punishments. That is what the big media corporations want.

Wrong again. This citizen wants strong copyright punishments - because he believes in copyright law and intellectual property. Many Slashdoters don't want such protection because they (mistakenly) assume their percieved (I.E. self assumed and created out of thin air) rights trump everyone elses rights.

Re:Wrong again. (5, Insightful)

QuasiEvil (74356) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122411)

Hrm, not sure to write you off as a troll or respond, but ah, what the hell, I'll respond. Like many of us, I'm not anti-copyright. I firmly support the rights of an artist or inventor to control their work for a limited time in order to profit from it. (For reference, I'm both. I hold two patents, and I'm a published semi-professional photographer in my spare time.) The problem is that copyright was originally a deal struck between the general populous and the creative folk - the deal being that the creators get limited exclusivity in exchange for the eventuality that their creation will fall into public domain. This is the foundation of the US Constitution's core intellectual property provision: "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

The problem is that the deal has become lop-sided. There's no way that an author's great grandchildren holding the rights to his writings up to 70 years after he died promotes the progress of science or the useful arts. That's just called greed. The author doesn't create more if he knows his distant descendants will still be extorting money for almost a century after he kicks off.

Arguably, the public domain is also vitally important to progress. Think about all the inventions that would have been lost or the massive inflation of prices (due to royalties) if patents were essentially perpetual as well. Think about historians in 100 years, trying to figure out if they can reprint a photo out of fear that someone, somewhere will show up and demand royalties because the photo was taken by their great-great-grandfather. It's already a nightmare figuring out reproduction rights.

The system is broken, and stronger penalties won't fix it. Existing punishments are adequate if enforced against the real problem - large scale commercial piracy. Sane copyright terms, in conjunction with media companies not treating customers like felons, would be a good start.

What is an IP law? (4, Insightful)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121641)

They're still up to their bullshit. There are copyright laws, there are patent laws, there are trademark laws. There is no such thing as an Intellectual Property law. That's a big blanket that the megacorps want to pull over our eyes in order to gain more power. Taken individually, copyright, patent, and trademark laws have acceptable checks and balances built into them (Except the ones that have been stroked by Mickey Mouse). But what they're after is a true Intellectual Property law that has no balancing of Megacorp vs. Common Good. They want it to be all Theirs, and no Ours.

Be careful, whenever some politician blabbers on about "Intellectual Property", it really means they are in bed with the Megacorps and want to muddy the issue in order to set some bastardized legal precedent on the sheep-like public who won't notice a thing until the water boils.

Re:What is an IP law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19121807)

Duh... Of course they are in bed with the megacorps. Is the general public crying out for more severe copyright punishment? LOL

Re:What is an IP law? (4, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121925)

There is no such thing as an Intellectual Property law. That's a big blanket that the megacorps want to pull over our eyes in order to gain more power.

And they are doing a fine job of it, with the uncritical repetition in this article of curious notion of "intellectual property thieves".

Intellectual "property" is a terrible metaphor. "Property" is a legal machine that is designed to enforce capture of negative externalities. That is, when you own property, you are responsible for its upkeep. Without property rights you could dump your wastes or graze your sheep on the commons, and not ever pay any costs for that. The notion of property, first and foremost, forces you to pay your own way on your own property.

Intellectual "property" on the other hand is a legal machine that is intended to enforce capture of positive externalities: good things that happen to other people because of your work. [ssrn.com]

Patents, trademarks and copyright are sufficiently unlike property that any attempt to reason about them using property metaphors is doomed to failure from the outset. It is a tad disturbing that this failed metaphor has become so much a part of the popular legal consciousness that even the Attorney General is able to remember it.

This is not to say that individuals cannot have rights in patents, trademarks and copyrights. But those rights are not ownership rights to property, and violating those rights is not theft.

Re:What is an IP law? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122249)

Intellectual "property" on the other hand is a legal machine that is intended to enforce capture of positive externalities: good things that happen to other people because of your work. [ssrn.com]

Patents, trademarks and copyright are sufficiently unlike property that any attempt to reason about them using property metaphors is doomed to failure from the outset.


I have to disagree. Debates about intellectual property, in my experience, typically regress to the very same questions and arguments about property in general: Why/to what extent should property be respected, how can something become someone's property, what incentive structures do property regimes create, can property exist without the state's support, etc.

Re:What is an IP law? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122179)

There are copyright laws, there are patent laws, there are trademark laws. There is no such thing as an Intellectual Property law.

Well, true, in a sense, but I think the reason people use that term is ... WHOA, dude, what the hell are you sitting on? Does that thing actually go into your ...*gasp* Doesn't that hurt?

Penalties? (4, Insightful)

griffjon (14945) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121699)

FTA:

"said he would "hit criminals in their wallets" by boosting restitution and ensuring all ill-gotten gains are forfeited, as well as any property used to commit the crimes."

So, what if no one's profiting off of the infringement?

Re:Penalties? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19121795)

In that case, you will have to pay the value of the copyrighted material multiplied by how many times you shared it. In other words, you better start charging for your pirated material so that you'll be able to pay the fine.

Re:Penalties? (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121945)

"said he would "hit criminals in their wallets" by boosting restitution and ensuring all ill-gotten gains are forfeited, as well as any property used to commit the crimes." So, what if no one's profiting off of the infringement?
Sounds to me like any copyrighted material you download will be considered profit, and even if it isn't, they will still confiscate your computer, router, etc. Maybe even your iPod and stereo!

If they can find a profit anywhere in the chain of stuff you may have downloaded or shared, they may consider your stuff part of the crime.

Re:Penalties? (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121949)

>>"...as well as any property used to commit the crimes"

It looks as though they are trying to make it so they can seize and keep the computers, ipods, televisions, etc.. of anybody using pirated material.

This is similar to the tactic used in the so called "war on drugs". They just seize your ill gotten gains and don't even worry about getting a prosecution. In the case of drugs they can keep your stuff without even getting a conviction.

Re:Penalties? (1)

grim4593 (947789) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122163)

"as well as any property used to commit the crimes"

They could use this to take control of internet backbones? :P

Of course. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19121731)

This is the second part of the badness that comes from criminalizing copyright infringement. (The first thing was the shift of the cost of prosecution from the copyright holders to the taxpayers.)

Now that copyright infringement is criminal, politicians, attorneys and law enforcement can all cry for even more money, to be "tough on crime". Plus, since I'd guess most everyone over age ten in the US has infringed someone's copyright (downloaded something, photocopied without permission, duped a video tape, etc), it becomes yet another crime you can be charged with if someone in power decides you need to be arrested.

What we really need is copyright reform.

"Ill Gotten Gains" (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121739)

Soooo that means teh average person copying a movie that they have already gone to see, or a piece of software they cant afford anyway and just want to play with, wont get a fine at all since they didnt make any profit.

Cool. That is the way it should be.

Re:"Ill Gotten Gains" (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121953)

No, they will seize *all* of your money and property as *alleged* 'ill gotten gains'. Then it will be up to you to fight a long and expensive legal battle to prove otherwise.

There is a reason the Founding Fathers hated IP (5, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121751)

America was founded on piracy of intellectual property, after all, starting with textiles, and extending to many engineering marvels.

I for one miss the days of a single 17 year patent life, and a copyright that ended after 21 years.

And I say that as a published (paid) writer.

Re:There is a reason the Founding Fathers hated IP (1, Interesting)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121813)

Can someone explain why copyrights and patents should expire? I'm being serious.

To foster innovation. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121907)

Can someone explain why copyrights and patents should expire? I'm being serious.

In exchange for governmental protection of your monopoly for a period of time, you will release the material to society as a whole.

That way people can FREELY build upon your work and society, as a whole, can further benefit.

Re:There is a reason the Founding Fathers hated IP (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121909)

Because we accept unnatural restrictions on consensual private activity between two people (sharing a file). A law should be beneficial to society at large and the benefit of just being a consumer or seller's terms just doesn't cut it. A reasonable benefit is to be able to use the work free of cost and to sell derivative works within our active lifetime.

Re:There is a reason the Founding Fathers hated IP (4, Insightful)

sobachatina (635055) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121981)

The goal was for the enrichment of society.

The idea was that the creator would have a monopoly on the creation long enough that they would be motivated to do the work.

After that the creation was turned over to society so anyone could build on it.

The original meaning changed somehow so now instead of being a temporary, governmanet-granted monopoly even the general populace thinks that it is possible to OWN an idea.

This is a recent historical event but has somehow become so pervasive that most people I talk to actually believe that the creator of a work has a moral right to control that work for the rest of time. That has never been the case and shouldn't be now.

We should fix the laws so that they enforce the original intent. Copyright and Patents should be enough motivate creators to create- not to hold society for ransom.

Re:There is a reason the Founding Fathers hated IP (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122175)

> the general populace thinks that it is possible to OWN an idea.

I don't think that's true. Most people don't confuse copyright infringement (copying an album off a friend/taping a song or tv show off the tv/photocopying a map when they're going to visit someone/using a 'pirate' copy of a program at home) with physically stealing someone's wallet/purse etc, nor do they tend of think of it as morally wrong. Owning an idea if perpetuity is a new idea that isn't even true in the US yet, let alone elsewhere in the world.

Re:There is a reason the Founding Fathers hated IP (4, Insightful)

Xemu (50595) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122023)

Can someone explain why copyrights and patents should expire? I'm being serious.

Because patents often are about physical phenomena which can't be duplicated, and because "Inventing" is in a sense not creating something which did not exist, but rather being really smart and be the first one to figure something out.

Take fire, for example. Imagine someone having a patent on using fire for cooking. That would be a rich family by now, huh? Or what if my ancestors had filed a patent on using a round device called a wheel to reduce friction.

Todays patents on compressed sound and video (aka mp3 or dvd) are more advanced, but they still deal with something which is essentially a naturally occuring phenomenon just waiting to be discovered and used.

The purpose of patents should be to reward the inventor/discovery so society can benefit from more inventions, but the reward should not be so large the inventor benefits more than society does.

Re:There is a reason the Founding Fathers hated IP (2, Informative)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122045)

Partly so that after the creator of the work is dead, the work doesn't also die. If the copyright never expires, then nobody can use it without the copyright holder's permission. If the copyright holder is dead, then he/she can't give permission. Of course, this is ignoring the possibility of transfer of copyright to the estate of the creator.

Also, any creative work which is worthwhile will become known to a large portion of the population. In some sense, it becomes part of our culture. There is an idea that things that are part of our culture and heritage are really collective property, and should be unrestricted. The "Happy Birthday" song is one example: nearly everybody growing up learns that song, and sings it fairly frequently. But, the copyright holder has in recent years decided to tighten the screws, so that restaurants, etc, cannot use the song. This might be said to have had a (minor) detrimental effect on our culture's development. If copyright expires, then suchlike things are mitigated and limited.

Patents are meant to grant a monopoly so that the inventor can get a company selling his invention off the ground even in the face of nasty competition. Monopolies are generally thought to be a Bad Thing, notably by the US government, which has anti-trust laws, so it would be rather contradictory to grant an eternal monopoly.

Re:There is a reason the Founding Fathers hated IP (2, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122087)

Can someone explain why copyrights and patents should expire? I'm being serious.

For the reasons they always were supposed to expire:

A. To stop hereditary dynasties founded on the work of others, as opposed to the sweat of one's brow (note that if you died back then your spouse and children kept the rewards until expiry).

B. To promote the common good and acceleration of knowledge within society - just because someone invented the fork (an American invention), that shouldn't mean someone else can't invent a fork with a mustache protector, just as someone inventing a steam radiator didn't stop my grandfather from patenting improvements on steam radiators.

C. To return the rewards of invention to society - in the old days, many patents were public patents, owned by the state, used to pay for things like roads for the citizens. Same goes for works of fiction - you only had to make sure noone wrote it in the last 17 years, but no sense for a novel not to be reprinted after a reasonable length of time.

That's just a start.

Re:There is a reason the Founding Fathers hated IP (1)

Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122093)

They should expire because what was created by the people belongs to the people.

More to the point, everything belongs in the public domain, except for that to which your constitution grants the privilege of not being in the public domain for a certain period of time. At which point the public owns the publics' works once again.

I think the framers of your constitution viewed so-called intellectual property rights as a necessary evil. Necessary to foster innovation, necessary to give impetus to new creation, but evil in that the public does not have the same access to those works as it otherwise would.

It really makes you wonder what the framers would have thought of the Berne Convention, doesn't it?

Re:There is a reason the Founding Fathers hated IP (2, Insightful)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122273)

First, you explain why they shouldn't. Seriously, the constitution says, "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." Copyrights (and patents) are a man-made thing. Previous to copyrights, if you came up with an idea and didn't want anyone else to use it, then you wouldn't ever publish it*. However, the founding fathers knew that it would be beneficial to get people to publish their works, so as an incentive they allowed for copyrights. In essence, if you publish your material to the world, we'll pretend that you control it for a short time. That gives you the incentive of sharing your ideas, and the world is a better place for it.

Now to answer your question about why they should expire...If you are given exclusive right to your writings forever, that sure is an incentive to publish your works. However, we don't want you to just publish your ideas. We want to use them, that's what promotes progress. So we can't very well let you have exclusive rights to them forever (what use are they to you after your dead anyway?). So we set an expiration. This also gives you an incentive to create a new work. So we give you exclusive rights to your works for a long enough time for you to profit AND to publish your next work(s).

Re:There is a reason the Founding Fathers hated IP (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122139)

America was founded on piracy of intellectual property, after all, starting with textiles, and extending to many engineering marvels.

So what? A goodly chunk of America's economy was once based on slavery - including both chattel bondage and debt bondage. Even beyond that, when the country was founded the franchise was limited to a minority of citizens.
 
Since they are thing we had when the country was founded, shall we roll back the laws that have corrected those abuses as well?

Re:There is a reason the Founding Fathers hated IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19122287)

excellent post. I'm sick of people dredging up any bollocks to somehow justify them downlo\ding the new spiderman film torrent, as somehow being a way to be truly american, or to stick it to the man!
The length of copyrights should be shortened, no argument there, but it should be ENFORCED, especially, when some scumbags sell other peoples work (such as on ebay) as their own. Peple doing this are just thieving scum, and no amount of whining about 'the founding fathers' will persuade me than some chinese scumbag who copies adobe photoshop onto CDs and sells them to gullible ebay buyers isn't the lowest of the low and belongs behind bars. People running 'warez' websites who think they are somehow immune because they arent hosting the files, or who stick some bullshit disclaimer on the front page should also end up in a cell.
By all means reform copyright. And enforce it.

plu5 2, troll) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19121771)

FreebSD is already And, after initial

The headline should have been (4, Informative)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121801)

Justice department to crack down even harder on murders

There are already ample penalties for copyright infringement and ways to shut them down. In fact, it makes no different for the guilty party if he is fined for $100M or $1B, since he will not be able to pay it off anyway. In the meantime, United States has a ridiculously high murder rate compared to other developed countries. Do any politicians up for election in 2008 care to address that? Like you know, stop sales of guns to mentally ill?

Re:The headline should have been (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122057)

  1. Mentally ill people - those that have been declared legally "mentally ill" - can't buy guns at gun stores today.
  2. Criminals buy guns on the street, not from legally-controlled gun dealers. Can't stop it without rounding up all the criminals. You can see how much success that is having.
  3. Declaring someone "mentally ill" is a pretty complicated process, at least as far as getting them legally committed to an institution. Back 50 years or so ago, it was much simpler. The police could arrest someone that was behaving oddly and then a doctor could look at them and say "Yup, he's nuts." and that would be the end of the matter. Committed for life.
    &nbsp
    Today it is a little harder that that because it is somehow thought that these people might have rights. Rights which in most cases supercede the rights of people not to be bothered and harrassed by the mentally ill. So we have panhandlers on the street which are clearly mentally ill but cannot be institutionalized because it would "take away their rights". You also have mentally ill people going on shooting sprees. Perhaps the pendulum has swung too far the other way?
    &nbsp
    Anyway, the point is until someone is legally declared mentally ill they have rights, including the right to buy guns. If you managed to make all gun sales illegal, you would will have people buying guns. It would just be illegal. So when you caught them you could charge them with another crime - buying a gun - in addition to whatever they did with the gun. Pointless.

Re:The headline should have been (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122421)

1,2. RTFNEWS

3. Declaring someone mentally ill doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing state. There is nothing wrong with having a policeman and a psychiatrist present at a gun permit interview and judging that person to be of sound mind, calm disposition and having a legitimate use for the kind of gun they are planning to buy as well as skills to use and safeguard it properly (the last would do something to address black market). If they fail, they walk away with a pepper spray.

I realize that this is a challenging project. Perhaps Justice department should suspend their work on additional copyright infringement penalties in order to focus the necessary resources in that direction.

BushCo Is Scrambling To Exploit Other News (0, Offtopic)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121827)

Check CNN - Bush is out stumping *against* greenhouse gas emissions. His oil-based corporate masters are having to take a back seat to Bush finding some kind of bandwagon that has public support that he can ride the coattails of. The same for Gonzales - they need every shred of positive press they can get right now.

With stories about how all those e-mails Gozales said didn't exist being leaked by insiders (http://news.nationaljournal.com/articles/070510nj 1.htm [nationaljournal.com] ), and three US soldiers captured and most likely being tortured/killed, BushCo is pulling out the stops.

Hell, George might even roll Cheney over and sacrifice Rove for the Plame leak the way things are going.

The republicans running in the primary must really be proud.

Re:BushCo Is Scrambling To Exploit Other News (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122005)

Hell, George might even roll Cheney over and sacrifice Rove for the Plame leak the way things are going.

Makes sense. They're about out of black men to sacrifice.

Punishment (1)

NotFamous (827147) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121851)

Apparently, there is talking of requiring 90-95% of all computer users to run Microsoft Windows as punishment.

Vote with your ballots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19121861)

And when that fails, you can vote with your feet.

After all, if Congress isn't working for you, why are you working for them?

Just goes to show the direction of our country (2, Informative)

Ambush Commander (871525) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121883)

I recently read an article on the New Yorker [newyorker.com] discussing how the United States strong-arms other countries into adopting our own stringent Intellectual Property laws. It just goes to show the continued stance of our government in this area of policy, a stance that is not going to change any time soon. ::sigh::

Re:Just goes to show the direction of our country (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122291)

As the U.S. bleeds itself deeper and deeper into debt to the rest of the world (e.g., China), you have to wonder how long it will be able to keep the arm-twisting going. It's sure to be a Big Surprise to us when other countries start to notice that the bully isn't as big as he used to be. They never do see it coming.

The Gonzales exit strategy: work for the RIAA (1)

Lengyel (1082385) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121887)

Instead of grandstanding to curry favor with a few movie and recording industry executives, so that he'll have a place to work after he resigns, Gonzales ought to read Against Intellectual Monopoly [dklevine.com] , by economists Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine. And then he should resign.

What a schmoe! (4, Funny)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121901)

Doesn't Gonzalez realize that this sort of corporate pandering won't happen now that we have Democrats in charge of congress?

Re:What a schmoe! (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121989)

Doesn't Gonzalez realize that this sort of corporate pandering won't happen now that we have Democrats in charge of congress?
If you think that Nancy Pelosi won't support corporations in Hollywood, you are sadly mistaken.

Re:What a schmoe! (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122035)

Sadly, you are probably correct. The only difference between Republican and Democrat politicians seems to be who they owe their favors to. The ones left holding the bag are U.S. citizens.

We Should Ask Alberto Which is More Important... (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121921)

Holding those accountable who lie to Congress during sworn testimony about subversion of the Justice Department for political gain... or chasing after a kid that downloaded some mp3 files by (cough, wheeze) Metallica.

Who CANT see the giant SOLD sign (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#19121941)

"These crimes, as we all know, also have a direct impact on our economy, costing victims millions of dollars and, if left unchecked, diminishing entrepreneurship," Gonzales said in announcing the bill.
As we all know? As opposed to "As some purport", or more neutrally "As some claim"?

Thats a loaded statement to not include any data pertaining to the actual statement itself. Last I checked percentage of convictions has little to do with the impact of the crime itself. Shouldn't one be looking at those convictions and wonder why 43% of cases turn out
with NO conviction? That seems like a pretty high percentage of total cases.

Wouldn't a more useful action be to find out why almost half of all cases do not result in conviction and see if reform can reduce the load on your courts? This entire piece seems to just be an advertisement stating "This message brought to you by: Your friendly neighborhood vexatious litigator.

NOT the will of the majority. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19122069)

The majority does not want stronger copyright protections in this country. They want stronger copyright protection of American copyrights abroad, yes--and they do want artists to get paid for good work. They want there to be an incentive for financial backers to produce major projects, yes. But they don't want the backers to get outrageous returns by suing everyone's pants off. Only the nudists want that.

bring it on, morons (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122097)

in one corner, well-moneyed corporate interests with lawmakers and enforcers in their pockets

in the other corner, legions of poor, borderless, highly motivated, technically astute, and media loving teenagers who couldn't give one rats ass about the bloated overreaching joke that copyright law in this country has become, because it is way beyond speaking to them in the language of right and wrong

copyright law is WAY beyond protecting the artist's rights when you can't play "happy birthday" on a piano without the need to pay someone/ get permission, and mickey mouse will NEVER be in the public domain. the idea is to strike a balance between the common good and the rights of the artist. but moneyed middle men have stuck a big fat finger on that scale, and it's permanently imbalanced. in other words, copyright law is broken, corrupt, insoluble, dead

poor teenagers versus corporate interests. it's not even a blink of an eye who will obviously win: the teenagers

the future of ip law in the usa is china: lip service played to the idea at official levels, some high profile demonstration busts that don't change a thing, and rampant complete ignorance of and ignoring of ip law on the street

copyright is dead. corporations killed it by not playing fair and only looking for some more $ at the expense of our common cultural riches. you can't measure common cultural riches on the corporate ledger, so it never got a fair reckoning in the boardroom. the result: complete disconnect between law and reality

In related news... (2, Informative)

krunoce (906444) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122129)

The #2 man in the DOJ, Paul McNulty, just submitted his resignation to Gonzales.

Fair is fair (2, Interesting)

Intron (870560) | more than 6 years ago | (#19122299)

I think there's nothing wrong with getting tough on illegally using IP as long as it is extended to include my personal information. I should be able to sue Exxon-Mobil when they "file share" my data with Chase Manhattan or Citigroup. My life is my performance art and all description of it is my copyright. Let's ask the AG what he plans to do about TJX illegally sharing the data of thousands of their customers on the internet.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...