Thursday, December 8, 2011

CNN Piracy Propoganda - Back in the USSR

CNN's Wolf Blitzer on the Situation Room had a very disturbing segment concerning piracy. The segment was reminiscent of old style Soviet Union propaganda. Unfortunately, it seems that the segment has yet to be posted, so no link. Here is a link to an earlier story: Anti-piracy bill meets Web-freedom backlashTechDirt has greater detail and analysis here.  Essentially, today's Situation Room segment was a sob story highlighting how those in the entertainment industry are suffering greatly from wanton piracy that needs to be controlled to protect the starving artists.

I believe in very limited copyright/patent privileges and do not believe in so-called "intellectual property".  However, this post will not be digging into the concern over the legality or non-legality of piracy but of the purposely unstated consequence of what a so-called "war" against piracy will mean. To be fair and balanced, Wolf Blitzer should have delved into the concerns reviewed below.

We are supposed to be a Nation based on laws.  Implicit in that context are things such as "due process" and innocent until proven guilty.  The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution states: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."  The so-called "war" on piracy will be a nullification of the Fourth Amendment.

Beyond the obvious Fourth Amendment there is the issue that the law should apply equally to everyone.  But the trend in the so-called "war" against piracy is to eliminate the rights of the consumer in-order to protect the revenue stream of the content industry. Simply put, the content industry will be allowed, without a warrant, to monitor you and take whatever unilateral actions they deem appropriate against you.

Update (12/9/2011): Since originally posting TechDirt came out with the following: Constitutional Scholars Explain Why SOPA & PROTECT IP Do Not Pass First Amendment Scrutiny.  Laurence Tribe notes that:" delegates to a private party the power to suppress speech without prior notice and a judicial hearing. This provision of the bill would give complaining parties the power to stop online advertisers and credit card processors from doing business with a website, merely by filing a unilateral notice accusing the site of being “dedicated to theft of U.S. property” – even if no court has actually found any infringement.".

In the "old" days, it used to be that the police had to obtain a warrant to search your premises, had to collect evidence, and then had to present that evidence to a court to obtain an arrest warrant. This of course was then followed by a slow irritant of a trial by jury. In the interests of economic efficiency these impediments and the need for courts are being eliminated. Not only that, but if you believe that you are innocent, you will have to go through a tortuous, tedious, and expensive process to prove that!

The content industry is eliminating the consumer's property rights. Funny how the content industry wants to protect their property, but is figuratively "stealing" your property.  The Concept of Sale Is Under Attack.

Then there is the "Broken Window Fallacy".  The content industry claims that pirating costs the industry money and puts people out of work.  It does not. What happens is that people still use that money to buy other things, which other people have to manufacture.  There is no net loss to the economy.  The only loss is to the content industry. And if we are good capitalists (as most people claim to be); if an industry can't make money, too bad. It goes out of business.

As a conclusion, developing research and anecdotal evidence is demonstrating that piracy does not hurt sales! So, if piracy does not actually hurt sales, why must the US public be stripped of their civil rights and live in a police state to supposedly protect the revenue stream of a selected industry?  Time put an end to this onerous "land grab".

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What do the Republicans Mean by Small Government?

The Republicans claim to want small limited government, but do they mean it?  As usual  the devil is in the details. As a quick Casual Observation; the Republican loudly proclaim with much fanfare to be unfailing advocates of the Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution. The Tenth Amendment holds that: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." In casually observing the various Republican debates, it seems that downsizing government under the Tenth Amendment only applies to eliminating social service programs, environmental protection, and entitlement programs.

However, when it comes to so-called "security" and fighting the various so-called "wars", it seems that the Republicans foam-at-the-mouth to toss aside the Tenth Amendment along with the First and Fourth Amendments. If this trend continues, we will soon have a police state.  (Obama has already taken the initiative to diminish the First, Fourth, and Tenth Amendments).  Of the Republican candidates, only Ron Paul seem to clearly recognize that the Tenth Amendment really means downsizing the Federal government in ALL areas and that we should not trade "liberty" for "security".

As an editorial aside, I tend towards a Federal government that will be involved in issues that are nationally significant, such as environmental protection. Regulations that establish a level playing field for business is a valid government action.  Republican claims to eliminate these types of regulations are equivalent to granting a license to private enterprise to "steal".  I will also concede that some Federal government programs such as Education and all loan subsidy programs should be eliminated.