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 backlash. TechDirt 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:"...it 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".