White House’s Newest Power Grab – A Hollywood Patriot Act
Since his election as President, Barack Obama has grown government power exponentially. Failed stimulus bills, government take-over of major portions of the auto industry, bailouts of the financial industry and a government-takeover of our health care system have all increased the size, scope and power of the federal government.
Apparently, we have seen nothing yet. The White House is now proposing a Hollywood version of the Patriot Act – legislation that would allow copyright wiretaps against website owners who post copyrighted materials.
The proposed legislation comes on the heels of the arrest of a website owner who linked to video streams. Homeland Security has charged 32-year old Bryan McCarthy with one count of criminal infringement of copyright for linking to video streams of the UFC, NFL and other sports. McCarthy faces five years in prison for linking.
McCarthy’s arrest begs a host of questions including:
Why is linking to other sites a crime?
How could McCarthy be arrested when the White House is proposing draconian laws to end linking to illegal streams?
Where are the civil libertarians who oppose the wiretapping provisions of the Patriot Act but have failed to protest the addition of copyright and trademark infringement to the list of crimes that could be wiretapped?
Will conservatives, who claim to oppose the expansion of government, fight the Hollywood Patriot Act?
The proposed White House power grab is nothing more than a bailout for Hollywood and their allies. Ed Black of the Computer and Communications Industry Association hit the nail on the head when he said:
Some in Congress and the White House have apparently decided that no price is too high to pay to kowtow to Big Content’s every desire, including curtailing civil liberties by expanding wiretapping of electronic communications. Even the controversial USA PATRIOT Act exists because of extraordinary national security circumstances involving an attack on our country. Does Hollywood deserve its own PATRIOT Act?
This new punitive IP agenda follows just weeks after dictators spying on citizens online was the lead story in every major newspaper. Perhaps the obvious hypocrisy caused someone to decide to wait to announce the US goal of expanding our government’s powers to spy online. A screenwriter could almost market this plot as a comedy-if it weren’t so serious.
Maybe we should be grateful our government only wants to make streaming a song or movie a felony with potential prison time as punishment. What’s next, corporal punishment?
This is the latest indication of the extent to which the content industry has infiltrated this administration and managed to turn the Administration’s IP agenda into a policy which protects old business models at the expense of consumers, citizens’ rights, and our most innovative job creating industries.