What with investigating and preventing terrorism and other somewhat important things, you would think we wouldn’t want the FBI distracted by tracking down Kazaa users. Not according to these two entertainment industry ass-lickers:
- A bill introduced in Congress on Thursday would put federal agents in the business of investigating and prosecuting copyright violations, including online swapping of copyrighted works.
HR-2517, the Piracy Deterrence and Education Act of 2003, instructs the FBI to develop a program to deter online traffic of copyrighted material. The bureau would also develop a warning, with the FBI seal, that copyright holders could issue to suspected violators. And the bureau would encourage sharing of information on suspected copyright violations among law enforcement, copyright owners and ISPs (Internet service providers).
The bill bears the names of two legislators who have been prominent on intellectual property and copyright issues–Reps. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Howard Berman, D-Calif. Berman gained attention last year with a bill that would have allowed copyright holders to hack into peer-to-peer networks believed to be distributing protected materials.
The new bill also calls for the Department of Justice to hire agents trained to deal with computer hacking and intellectual-property issues, and it requires the Attorney General, in conjunction with the departments of Education and Commerce, to develop programs to educate the public on copyright issues.
A lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation said the bill includes a number of troubling aspects, particularly the blurring of distinctions between official prosecution of criminal acts and civil enforcement of copyright provisions.
“It’s doing a bunch of things to get the FBI more involved with private enforcement of intellectual-property rights,” said Wendy Seltzer, staff attorney for the EFF. “It gives them a chance to scare a lot of users into thinking the government is after them.” [CNET]
Other than the element of education on copyright – what normal American knows squat about copyright? – this is the most outrageous distortion of priorities yet. We want the FBI to enforce civil intellectual-property rights matters? They better get after Orrin Hatch then.