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President Signs Law Creating Copyright Czar 555

Posted by kdawson
from the ip-con dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "President Bush has signed the EIPRA (AKA the PRO-IP Act) and created a cabinet-level post of 'Copyright Czar,' on par with the current 'Drug Czar,' in spite of prior misgivings about the bill. They did at least get rid of provisions that would have had the DOJ take over the RIAA's unpopular litigation campaign. Still, the final legislation (PDF) creates new classes of felony criminal copyright infringement, adds civil forfeiture provisions that incorporate by reference parts of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, and directs the Copyright Czar to lobby foreign governments to adopt stronger IP laws. At this point, our best hope would appear to be to hope that someone sensible like Laurence Lessig or William Patry gets appointed."
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President Signs Law Creating Copyright Czar

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  • Czar (Score:5, Funny)

    by religious freak (1005821) on Monday October 13, 2008 @08:17PM (#25363269)
    Ok, outside the copyright debate, am I the only one that is extremely skeptical when someone is the "czar" of something? What the hell does that actually mean, and what can they actually do?

    If it doesn't sound like an utterly useless, powerless post, it sounds like we should be running for our lives from this all powerful czar - neither is particularly good, from my perspective.
    • Re:Czar (Score:5, Informative)

      by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Monday October 13, 2008 @08:27PM (#25363349)

      Ok, outside the copyright debate, am I the only one that is extremely skeptical when someone is the "czar" of something? What the hell does that actually mean, and what can they actually do?

      Establish a secret police to rout all revolutionaries and anti-royalists. Establish a serfdom and enforce it with an iron fist. Confiscate the property of radicals and starve them and their families. Get lined up against a wall and shot when the revolution comes.

      • Re:Czar (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Monday October 13, 2008 @08:41PM (#25363481)

        Ok, outside the copyright debate, am I the only one that is extremely skeptical when someone is the "czar" of something? What the hell does that actually mean, and what can they actually do?

        Establish a secret police to rout all revolutionaries and anti-royalists. Establish a serfdom and enforce it with an iron fist. Confiscate the property of radicals and starve them and their families. Get lined up against a wall and shot when the revolution comes.

        {sigh} unfortunately, we're talking about an unelected bureaucrat, not a real Czar.

        So, this guy won't get shot, much as he'll probably deserve to be. He'll be in office until the next President fires his happy little ass and installs a new model.

        The people responsible for this travesty won't suffer at all. That's the downside of being a civilized nation. How does the joke go? "Some people are alive only because it is illegal to kill them."

        • by rossdee (243626)

          "unfortunately, we're talking about an unelected bureaucrat, not a real Czar."

          The real Czars weren't elected either...

          Cue the "In (pre) soviet Russia " jokes..

          I believe the term Czar (later spelt Tsar) comes from the name Caesar - which orriginally was the given name of the first Roman emperor (Gaius Julius), and only became a 'Title' when adopted by his Nephew (Gaius Octavius - AKA Augustus)

          • by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @12:33AM (#25364947)
            Caesar was not an emperor of rome. Octavius was the first Emperor. Julius Caesar was appointed dictator for life by the Senate before being murdered by Senators. His ascension WAS the end of the republic, but he was not an emperor. The period after his death prior to Octavian's rule was essentially pure chaos and civil war between the Senate, Octavian, and Marc Antony for which of the three would rule Rome. After Octavian came to power, the Senate was officially done with and the Imperial period began.
    • Re:Czar (Score:5, Funny)

      by meringuoid (568297) on Monday October 13, 2008 @08:30PM (#25363379)
      Ok, outside the copyright debate, am I the only one that is extremely skeptical when someone is the "czar" of something? What the hell does that actually mean, and what can they actually do?

      They get shot, bayonetted, dunked in an acid bath, then thrown down a mineshaft, by Communists.

      A spectre is haunting America - the spectre of Piracy ;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nimey (114278)

      It means we've got another unaccountable political appointee running things.

    • Re:Czar (Score:5, Informative)

      by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Monday October 13, 2008 @08:46PM (#25363517)

      Because departments tend to be ultra-introverts and power crazy zealots a "Czar" is sometimes created to cross these boundaries to encourage (and enforce) cooperation to a common goal. (e.g. Drugs, terrorism and now copyright)

      It has more impact and is (arguably) more cost-effective than creating a new department to carry out tasks which are the same as other departments. This also assumes that the departments will fail to work together effectively and squabble over funding and power.
      Sometimes there is a double up. There is a department that deals with drugs specifically, so the Czar's main role would be to coordinate all the interested departments.

      • Re:Czar (Score:4, Interesting)

        by religious freak (1005821) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @03:08AM (#25365771)
        Ok, so the copyright czar says to the FCC, "do this with the federal prosecutors", and the FCC says "no, that's dumb" ... the federal prosecutors also take issue with the task.

        Who is really in charge? Is it really the FCC or is it really the czar? If it's the FCC, why have a czar ... if it's the czar, exactly how powerful is he/she, what are the limits, and who oversees them?
  • by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Monday October 13, 2008 @08:22PM (#25363313)

    All those who have already spent the large amounts of money placed conveniently on their doorsteps from an "Anonymous DonoRIAA" last week, say "Aye" -- any opposed? The Ayes have it. Send it to the president!

    It's easy to start a grassroots campaign to get a new bill instated that will have this one eclipsed or overturned. We just need everyone we know to write letters to their congressmen -- Letters written on hundred dollar bills.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nhtshot (198470)

      It's also easy to write prospective presidents and urge them to not appoint this position.

      Civil damages require civil remediation. The governments job is to issue patents and copyrights, and provide a court system to litigate them within. Without regard to what I might think of the RIAA's tactics, they are at least using the system somewhat as intended. Civil damage, civil remedy.

      Let's tell our leaders to be exactly what we think of these shenanigans.

    • by slashqwerty (1099091) on Monday October 13, 2008 @08:43PM (#25363501)

      We just need everyone we know to write letters to their congressmen -- Letters written on hundred dollar bills.

      Why would politicians care about money? They are only allowed to use campaign contributions for their campaigns. What will their campaigns spend the money on? Publicity!

      Who do you think lobbied congress for this law? It was the major media conglomerates that control 95% of all the media we are exposed to. What would happen to a politician that challenged the media? They would be torn apart in the press. This is why politicians always vote in favor of the media.

      By the way, this bill went down just like the DMCA. Less than a month before a major election the bill came up for a vote. Virtually everyone in congress blindly voted for it with effectively no debate. The major media companies didn't publish anything on it.

      In summary, congress did not vote for this law to get campaign contributions. They voted for it to keep the press from shafting them. Any attempt to persuade congress to create balanced copyrights will have to take that into consideration. This is not about campaign funds!

    • by westlake (615356) on Monday October 13, 2008 @09:18PM (#25363783)
      It's easy to start a grassroots campaign to get a new bill instated that will have this one eclipsed or overturned. We just need everyone we know to write letters to their congressmen -- Letters written on hundred dollar bills.
      .

      The production budget for WALL-E was $180 million.

      If you know a congressman who doesn't like to see hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in clean industry, skilled labor and high-paying jobs in his home district, I would very much like to meet him.

      I doubt you are going to find him in California, New York, or Florida - not in this election and not in an economy where every export dollar matters.

  • by hurfy (735314) on Monday October 13, 2008 @08:24PM (#25363331)

    Does that mean copyrights will now be available on every street corner?

    Whaddaya mean the wasn't the goal?

    • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Monday October 13, 2008 @08:37PM (#25363449)

      Does that mean copyrights will now be available on every street corner?

      Whaddaya mean the wasn't the goal?

      Those who forget history and all that. Prohibition doesn't work, no matter what country you happen to find yourself. Well, it doesn't work in terms of forbidding access to products or services that the people really want. It may work when it comes to illegitimately extending government authority.

      What this debacle should teach us (as if we didn't already know) is that the levels of corruption, malfeasance in office, and influence peddling in Congress are much higher than was previously thought. "Elected" leaders of banana republics whore themselves out in similar fashion, and really, not for much less money.

      Depressing, really.

  • by corsec67 (627446) on Monday October 13, 2008 @08:34PM (#25363421) Homepage Journal

    http://fear.org/ [fear.org]

    Assets should only be forfeited when the owner of said assets has lost a case (civil or preferably criminal).

    Cases such as "County of X against $10,000" are just wrong and evil, and should be in violation of the 4th Amendment.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 13, 2008 @10:37PM (#25364349)

      Drugs were but an excuse. The government wanted to increase their ability to track money through the economy, reduce gray/black market activities, force people into using banking for every penny they could, increase taxation success, reduce currency in circulation, increase plastic usage, etc, just give it some thought. I can remember when successful farmers and ranchers carried rolls of hundred dollar bills with them often, no idea if they still do that or not but if they do they are at risk while just trying to do their daily business. Used car dealers on buying trips have had their money seized in forfeiture as have many others that don't have anything to do with drugs. For law enforcement, it is a license to steal and even kill. One of the examples being:

      Some Police Will Kill You For Your Property [isil.org]

                In Malibu, California, park police tried repeatedly to buy the home and land of 61-year-old, retired rancher Don Scott, which was next to national park land. Scott refused. On the morning of October 2, 1992, a task force of 26 LA county sheriffs, DEA agents and other cops broke into Scott's living room unannounced. When he heard his wife, Frances, scream, he came out of his upstairs bedroom with a gun over his head. Police yelled at him to lower his gun. He did, and they shot him dead.

                Police claimed to be searching for marijuana which they never found. Ventura County DA Michael Bradbury concluded that the raid was "motivated at least in part, by a desire to seize and forfeit the ranch for the government . . . [The] search warrant became Donald Scott's death warrant."

      Wonder how many similar things were just swept under the rug?

  • by nightfire-unique (253895) on Monday October 13, 2008 @08:47PM (#25363521)

    With the war on drugs, the war on sex, the war on common sense, and now the war on "IP theft", the risk of raising a child in the US skyrocketing. :(

    Young people often fundamentally don't understand the economic incentives, implications and justifications for copyright (regardless of whether or not they are still valid today). Couple that with very low purchasing power, and this new war-on-sharing is a disaster waiting to happen.

    Mark my words. A lot of families will suffer terribly because of this.

  • by rezalas (1227518) on Monday October 13, 2008 @08:50PM (#25363563)
    Hello mr. Constitution, my name was Paul. However, I was sued by the RIAA for infringing on their copyright of the letter "P" and now I'm known as inmate 5675. Unfortunately, God-King Bush said I also violated his copyright on free speech with my first letter so they took my Kidneys since I don't have anything left after my legs were taken for speaking against the media's word.
  • by cwsulliv (522390) * <cwsulliv@triad.rr.com> on Monday October 13, 2008 @09:03PM (#25363669)

    The intention: Since very little is manufactured in the USA any more, one of the few things we have to sell to the outside world is our IP, so we have to protect it.

    The Unintended Consequences: As Lawrence Lessig has pointed out, draconian copyright and patent laws are a strong disincentive to building on the works of others, so there will be less IP to sell.

    I guess we're sunk.

  • what's next? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon@gamersTIGERlastwill.com minus cat> on Monday October 13, 2008 @09:07PM (#25363707) Homepage Journal

    Are they going to make a fast food czar?

    How about an SUV czar?

    I mean, people are buying less SUVs than ever before, so we must have a cabinet level position to figure out how to get people to buy more SUVs right?

    And people need to buy more fast food too. Let's create a cabinet position for that.

    This is not unprecented. I mean, there's already a banking czar who is taking over the banks now.

    Next will come the porn czar. "Sir, put your hands up and your penis back in your pants!"

    Bush certainly is tying up the loose ends in the fascism loop ins't he?

  • by DogDude (805747) on Monday October 13, 2008 @09:23PM (#25363833) Homepage
    At this point, our best hope would appear to be to hope that someone sensible like Laurence Lessig or William Patry gets appointed

    I hope you're kidding. In case you've been asleep for 8 years, the US has gone further and further towards Big Brother to the point where having our rights suspended in a city where there's a Republican National Convention is no longer shocking. Whoever is appointed to this post will be as dumb, vicious, and bloodthirsty as possible. I mean, really, do you think for a second that Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are going to appoint someone like Lessig?

    No, they'll pick someone who is about law enforcement and headlines. Somebody who probably works or worked as a lawyer for the MPAA or RIAA. It's going to be a real shitstorm. Expect to see new, harsher mandatory sentence laws passed soon. There's money in prisons and fines!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      That is the curious part, when it is signed in to law. That alone should be evidence of the one party system we currently suffer. Then there is the nationalizing of banks, again right before an administration change. It seems like these handover periods were always stall points, times of nothing being done, in D.C. before now. Now, big stuff happens just before the hand off.

      Both parties are pro-business, and have voted to keep the consumers in line. I'm not sure where we are going.

  • Or are we going to keep complaining that copyright law gets worse each passing year?

    Nerds are going to have to start running for office to get this fixed. I'd rather not have to do it myself, but as my sig indicates, I've got the spare time.

  • by seeker_1us (1203072) on Monday October 13, 2008 @09:31PM (#25363895)

    Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

    Well, Abe, this shows that our government is clearly now of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations.

    The lovely bill was signed by what is likely the most corrupt president since Andrew Jackson. Ironically, he is from your party, the Republicans (you were the first elected Republican president). And the republicans were formed by former members of the Whig party, which existed to fight the tyranny of Jackson.

    What would you say if you were here today, Abe? Is this what America has been fighting for?

  • by aplusjimages (939458) on Monday October 13, 2008 @09:39PM (#25363939) Journal
    Will schools start having Copyright people come to schools and talk to students about the wrongs of copyright violation?
  • by istartedi (132515) on Monday October 13, 2008 @09:48PM (#25364011) Journal

    ...to abolish "civil forfeiture". It's bad enough when it happens to someone falsely accused in a drug case, or even acquitted. Expansion of CF? Absolute oppression. No other way to put it. I understand that you probably need to have *some* civil law apart from criminal law; but I think that if the founders knew that impoverishment was being used as "the next best thing" to imprisonment, they'd be turning in their graves.

    At a time when the decline of property values has caused so much trouble; expansion of CF makes no sense at all. I know that as I've considered investing in property, the possibility of CF has given me serious pause. I don't do drugs; but what if my tenant does? And then they come along and, without the stricter standards of a criminal case, they deprive me of the property. Now I have to worry if the tenant is a warez guy? Maybe there's a way to insure against CF, but then that's just one more thing that cuts into the bottom line for an investor.

  • Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Monday October 13, 2008 @09:52PM (#25364047)

    I think at this point I only read /. to depress myself thinking about the affairs of government.

  • by 1053r (903458) on Monday October 13, 2008 @10:49PM (#25364419)
    Sorry, I just got finished reading Cory Doctorow's Little Brother [craphound.com] and am feeling overly paranoid. I used to laugh at the idea of having copyright cops who would go around and arrest kids who had pirated music on their iPods, but it seems that day is growing ever nearer. Am I the only one who feels helpless against this growing insanity of the *AA controlled congress?
  • by Professr3 (670356) on Monday October 13, 2008 @11:26PM (#25364609)
    I wonder how many people will have their computers stolen by the RIAA before someone tapes a cellphone bomb inside one. Maybe they would think twice when a van full of "copyright enforcement agents" was exploded in a public place :\
    • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:19AM (#25366045)

      I wonder how many people will have their computers stolen by the RIAA before someone tapes a cellphone bomb inside one. Maybe they would think twice when a van full of "copyright enforcement agents" was exploded in a public place :\

      That's just the excuse they will look for to justify the harsh punishments and remove what semblance of privacy and due process that remains. Read up about the Reichstag fire [wikipedia.org], it was Hitler's excuse to bring in the "Ermächtigungsgesetz" or "Enabling Act" [wikipedia.org] in English. It will only help them assosiate piracy with the grim spectre of terrorism, a scared population is easy to control, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia should have taught us that.

  • by ZosX (517789) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .suivaxsoz.> on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @12:18AM (#25364859) Homepage

    Wait a minute........

    FTFB: "Copyright infringement is a felony"

    If I steal a CD from a store that is a misdemeanor....

    If I download a song...THAT IS A FELONY?!?!?!?!?

    WTF?!!?!?!?!?

    Don't worry. They are already have massive surveillance in place. It won't be hard to pick out the offenders. I think we need to start looking at the RIAA under RICO statutes.

    Aren't the jails already full of non-violent drug offenders???

    Disgusting. How much longer before we can convince the nation to pick up some rifles and march to DC?

  • by Eth1csGrad1ent (1175557) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @12:24AM (#25364897)

    There is an easy way to bring about a revolution in IP laws.

    Make every copyright holder enforce their IP rights through the courts for
    EVERY infringement that they become aware of, otherwise their claim to that
    IP is null and void.

    In essense, this would force the RIAA and MPAA etc, to sue for every breach
    of copyright they know about (eg. the Senators daughter, the Fortune 500 CEOs son etc)
      - to the point where the general public is forced to wake up to the faults of the
    system and demand change.

    At the moment, these bodies can selectively sue whoever they want as a show of
    strength, but by and large leave the masses alone. As a result, they pick and
    choose which infringements they want to fight for to ram home the message.

    A case in point - under Australian law, it is still technically illegal to make a
    copy of copyright content YOU OWN. As such EVERY iPod and MP3 player in Australia
    (and probably every PC and laptop) contains illegal music. But are the music companies
    enforcing this ?? No. Its not in their best interests to highlight the fact that you
    can't legally copy a CD that you legally bought, to your MP3 player or a backup.

  • by discogravy (455376) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @12:44AM (#25365029) Homepage
    ....just like when the drug czar was appointed over the War On Drugs and now illegal drugs are impossible to find...
  • by Irvu (248207) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @12:45AM (#25365045)

    So yes ths bill is awful. The Civil Forfeture provisions alone are foul let alone the Czar. While it may not roll things back overnight here is something simple that you can each do.

    1) Find your senator/representative on the list of supporters (see below)
    2) Call their office or contact them via the Senate [senate.gov] and House [house.gov] websites.
    3) Ask them why they voted for the bill. If their response does not convince you politely explain that this is an awful bill and one that has cost them your vote. Inform them politely that you will not vote for them or donate money to their campaigns again.
    4) Repeat.

    I would be shocked if any of them read this bill or have a reason for voting other than that they were in favor of good stuff. But the act of informing them that you will not support them because of it makes the point.

    For those of you not in the U.S. I would recommend contacting your representatives with the message that you will not back them if they consider a stunt like this.

    Now the Senators who voted in favor are here [house.gov].

    The house members in favor of the PRORIP act which became this are here [house.gov]

  • by toby (759) * on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @01:03AM (#25365179) Homepage Journal

    Whatever "lobbying" was being done previously, it seems to have been completely effective. Many countries have signed, without dispute, so-called "free" trade agreements which essentially codify every US-corporate-friendly dream that could be devised by the Bushites - including DMCA-ish and software patent provisions, to speak of 2 issues in the IT area. [builderau.com.au] In non-IT areas, similar capitulations are even worse. [archive.org] Pharmaceuticals, agriculture, all get twisted into poisonous American corporatised pretzels, to pave the way for overpriced patent drugs and monstrosities such as GM products (which should be flat-out illegal anywhere). It's as if the "sovereign" countries didn't even read the agreements, [aph.gov.au] let alone take heed of the public outry that always accompanies them. [bilaterals.org]

    It must be so easy for them, when the signatories are Bush-puppet governments such as the Howard government in Australia (thankfully rejected at last) and Harper (which malignancy we should pray is thrown out tomorrow, or at least held safely to a minority).

    Let's be honest. "Globalisation" never meant anything more or less than "America buys your stuff cheap, you buy America's stuff dear". The world does not need Wal-Mart, Microsoft, McDonald's, or any other substandard, exploitative American brand. The height of absurdity is Wal-Mart selling rice to Indians. What do the Wal-Marts in China sell? Crappy plastic Chinese crap back to the Chinese? The whole concept is absurd. What is Wal-Mart even doing in Canada?

    The ultimate irony is that those tilting the playing field towards the USA, and who would most vehemently deny the insuperable insult to sovereignty [irc-online.org] that these agreements represent, also claim to believe in a "free market" - the Bushites, the Reaganites, the Friedmanites, the corrupt fuckwads, the ignorant lying Sarah and Todd Palins, the criminal Cons and neo-Cons whose chickens, we hope, are coming home to roost at last. If you're wondering why you're having trouble competing [yahoo.com] - maybe it's because you're not competitive! Top example - Microsoft can't compete on merit. They have to be anti-competitive; and you betcha they love them some FTA help. Pity they got caught at it. [iht.com]

    But perhaps as the world wises the hell up, we finally see some logic in Bush's response: More lobbying. [export.gov] "Bring it on", in the Texan moron's famous catchphrase: Just expect more pushback!

    But we'd prefer if you'd just Bugger off. [worldpoliticsreview.com]

  • by macraig (621737) <mark DOT a DOT craig AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @06:34AM (#25366601)

    ... to finally emigrate to Sweden. The writing is so clearly on the wall, with both this and the Wall Street Bailout getting rammed through even an allegedly Democratic-controlled Congress. McCain is likely to be worse than Bush, and Obama isn't messianic and nowhere close to revolutionary enough to kick the money changers out of the damned temple. Kucinich would have done it, though. Hell, he's risked his career trying to drive stakes through the hearts of a couple of them (impeachment). Who else had the balls to do that?

    This country is irrecoverably ruled by greed and dominated by stupidity now. We The People are too stupid to revolt again as they once did.

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