Keen eyes will have noted I have taken a break from the RIAA-digital music wars for the last couple of weeks because while on vacation I realized just how absofuckinglutely sick of the whole ugly dispiriting mess I had become, and when I got back to work I had no desire to delve back into it again. But here is some interesting perspective in the right-leaning Insight On the News on the political aspects of the struggle that suggest at least some Republicans may see the RIAA for the heavy-handed, undemocratic, anti-civil libertarian, protectionist, authoritarian, collusionist sack of shit that it is:
- On July 31, just before the Senate took its summer recess, Coleman announced that he will be looking into the practices of the music industry – specifically, whether in its zeal to protect copyrighted material, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is abusing the power Congress bequeathed to it. The RIAA had on June 25 announced it was going to file “thousands of lawsuits” against individual consumers who download music off the Internet without paying. The copyright laws give the RIAA the power to sue for as much as $150,000 for violating copyright on even one downloaded song.
“I’m a former prosecutor and I believe in strict enforcement of the law, but I also believe in fairness and equity and common sense,” Coleman says in an interview with Insight. “I want to measure what’s going on here against those standards. … If you’re scooping up innocent people along the way, then you’ve got to take a look at that.”
The RIAA is using power Congress gave to it in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act to serve more than 900 subpoenas to Internet service providers (ISPs) for the names and addresses of individual users. And, unlike other businesses, it doesn’t have to file a lawsuit and get certification from a judge to issue subpoenas. It is even asserting the power of a “roving subpoena” similar to the authority which Congress created in the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act to catch terrorists who flee jurisdictions, says the NetCoalition’s Kevin McGuiness. The RIAA suffered a setback in early August when a federal judge in Boston ruled that it did not have the power to issue roving subpoenas in Washington to be served on students at Boston College.
….In the meantime some conservative activists and GOP strategists see this issue as a chance for Republicans to show concerned Americans that they sometimes do take on big business and stand up for the consumer, particularly when the offending business is wielding government-granted power. Others see it as a wedge issue with which younger voters can be separated from celebrity Democrats in the recording industry.
For Republicans, “It’s a great opportunity,” says Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah), who frequently speaks out against the RIAA on this issue. “The real key for Republicans is recognizing where technology is going and helping out.” Cannon serves on the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over copyright issues. He tells Insight that GOP lawmakers should point out what he calls “the stupidity of an industry that ought to be courting customers instead of alienating them.”
….the strongest criticism of what’s perceived to be the RIAA’s overreaching has come from Republican members. In addition to Coleman and Cannon, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) has proposed amending the copyright legislation to take away the RIAA’s special subpoena power and will hold hearings in the Senate Commerce Committee in September. In a recent floor speech critical of the RIAA, Brownback cited other principles conservatives believe in, including privacy, fairness, and due process of law. “I find it untenable that any Internet subscriber’s identifying information can be obtained, under government auspices no less, without any oversight or due process,” he said in June. “There are no checks, no balances, and the alleged pirate has no opportunity to defend themselves. My colleagues, this issue is about privacy, not piracy.”
there is also Orrin hatch, of course, but all pots have cracks.
- Sen. Coleman concludes that “the challenge is drawing a distinction between [first] clear commercial activity, second, the setting up of distribution networks, and third, personal use. I don’t have the answer to that, but I’m certainly looking at those issues. I think part of [the music industry’s] problem is they’re playing catch-up” with the technology.
That covers that for a while – while I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat, if the Republicans go with this they will receive my full support.