Ever heard of the European Union Intellectual Property Enforcement Directive? If you live in the EU, you will.
This is a proposed draft of legislation to be submitted to the European Parliament. If passed there, then the various nations of the EU are then supposed to pass legislation to enact it.
While there are numerous differences between this and current American law, they both pretty much do the same thing.
This is not too surprising because this directive and most recent US legislation in this field are/were meant to enact into law various intellectual property treaties signed by the respective nations.
Unfortunately, the directive as it stands is ambiguous as to whether or not P2People could effectively be subject to its disclosure provisions. This is a make-or-break point for P2Pers
Would it mean RIAA (or Euroequivalent) could do in the EU what is being done in the United States? That’s not clear.
For instance, could content providers get near-instant subpoenas like RIAA can in the U.S.? Yes, but. Actually, the EU directive goes a bit farther and could allow your computer to be seized lickedly-split as evidence.
However, as currently drafted, there’s some doubt as to whether or not some sign of commercial intent is required to enable content providers to get P2People identifying information from ISPs. Some parts of the document seem to indicate yes, one part in particular seems to say no.
Would circumvention of copy protection become illegal? Yes. Actually, the EU Directive goes even further than the DMCA in forbidding the creation, distribution and use of such tools for anything.
Could EuroP2People go to jail for doing this (presuming P2People end up being covered by the disclosure provisions)? Well, it might, but probably not. The directive provides for criminal sentences for “serious offenders,” though the context of the discussion seems to indicate this would be more for commercial infringers.
At first glance, it would look like U.S. laws would impose much greater penalties than EU law. There’s several types of fines that can be imposed for copyright infringements in the U.S., but the Eurodirective proposes a fine of twice the economic loss caused by the infringement, but it wouldn’t work out that way for several reasons.
On the U.S. side, that $150,000 an infringement figure often tossed around is an absolute maximum. In a typical U.S. P2People case, the fine assessed would probably be closer to the minimum (which can be either $200 or $750 an infraction, depending on the circumstances).
On the Euro side, if you go to court and lose, this directive says you are generally liable for the other side’s legal costs. In other words, Euro-RIAA and Company doesn’t pay its lawyers for the case, you do. Some consideration is supposed to be given to ability to pay, but at the least, it will be a factor in any case.
The EUROPARL Committee on Legal Affairs and Internal Market is supposed to begin discussion of the directive September 11. Here’s a list of the members. Click on a member’s name, and it will tell you how the person can be contacted. Some have email addresses and websites, the chair and vice-chairs don’t.
The American Council on Education has written a briefing paper on P2Ping.
It says that colleges aren’t responsible for the actions of their students, but could be responsible for the computer networks the students use. It also predicts that students will probably lose P2Ping lawsuits.
Other efforts are being made by other groups to give colleges the tools to protect themselves from their own students and block illegal P2Ping.
Don’t expect your college to be on your side on this one. The challenges to subpoenas being made by a number of colleges are being made in the college’s interests, not yours. They will obey the law and they clearly don’t think you have a right to do this. They just want to minimize the cost of following the law, and keep themselves from being held at all responsible for their student’s activities.
They are also looking into the prospects of negotiating legal content for their college students.
It will be very interesting to see what comes of the last of these. How flexible will RIAA and Company be in providing such services? Could we see a RIAApster coming to college campuses?
If they are, and are willing to create a sort of RIAApster, with college students paying an activity fee, it will be interesting to see what the reaction to that is on campus.
Colleges bear a lot of watching over the course of the next school year. If P2People can’t organize large groups of young people clumped together in one place, it’s a lost cause. If they can’t do it there, they can’t do it anywhere.
The First of Many
One attorney is planning to challenge the RIAA subpoena request on the grounds that illegal distribution must be active.
This is akin to saying that if you steal a bunch of CDs from a record store, plop them on the sidewalk, and let anybody help themselves, that’s not stealing.
I don’t think this is going to get very far in court. RIAA is not trying to calculate how many times an infringement occurred; they’re pointing to a single infringement.
The Orwellian World of P2People
In 1984, George Orwell spoke about a fictitious language he called Newspeak designed to allow only politically correct thoughts and concepts to be spoken.
Well, the concept of Newspeak isn’t fictitious anymore. It’s being created by the P2People.
For instance, taking what doesn’t belong to you and giving it to others isn’t stealing, it’s “sharing.”
Should you call the action by what the dictionary calls it: stealing, you get tortuous hair-splitting legal arguments with distinctions but no difference. Copyright infringement is just a different kind of stealing.
It would be like saying extortion isn’t stealing. Yes, the law books make extortion a separate crime, but in common usage, it’s just as much stealing as copyright infringement.
There seems to be this belief that if you call it something besides stealing, that makes it OK.
Yes, there is theft in the world of P2People. There is stealing. But the only thieves on Planet P2P are the RIAA and Company.
Paying artists perhaps a bit meagerly is theft, but paying them nothing at all is not.
Bankrupting those who steal the product is terrible, but bankrupting those who make it is great.
Not just the record companies, the artists, too. If you look at the “alternatives” suggested, not a single one would pay artists as much as they get from the evil old record companies. Some wouldn’t pay them at all.
If you want to get paid for your work or investment, you are greedy. If you want everything for nothing, you’re not.
One Drop of the Blood of Jesus
Another strange use of the language implies that if you can find one legal act, it forgives all the illegal ones. The last time I heard something like that discussed seriously, it was along the lines of one drop of the blood of Jesus washing away the sins of all men.
You see an example of that here. The article is entitled “Why file-sharing isn’t illegal,” with the subtitle “Yet the RIAA ‘will continue to bankrupt families.'”
This most definitely leaves the impression of people being unjustly bankrupted for legal activities. This is utter nonsense. The RIAA isn’t suing people who are sharing their omelet recipes. They’re suing people who are breaking the law.
Not all file-sharing is illegal. Just most of it.
If you took the logic of the argument, and applied it to anything else, you wouldn’t get arrested. You’d be put in whatever institution handled the mentally enfeebled.
If CompUSA had free introductory AOL disks in the store, would you then pile up the shopping cart and when asked to pay, say, “I don’t have to. That AOL disk is free, so everything’s free?”
If you were a CompUSA employee, what would you do?
If a gun is used in self-defense, does that forgive all murders?
Yes, you can legally own a carving knife. That doesn’t make you carving up your wife with it OK. The knife-maker isn’t it deep trouble, you are.
Yet in the strange tipsy-topsy world of P2People, the illogic becomes logic. The inability to comprehend that taking something which doesn’t belong to you isn’t OK, something little children know, isn’t considered a sign of mental inability, but ability.
This happens all the time on Planet P2P.
I could go on and on and on.
Virus and Cure
There is a virus among P2Pers that gets spread among a sizable proportion of its users. It mentally incapacitates people and leaves them babbling nonsense that would put them at great risk of involuntary treatment if uttered elsewhere.
Actually, it’s a very, very, very old virus. It’s called self-delusion, the ability to convince yourself that you want actually is.
Not all get affected, maybe not even most. If you don’t believe the things I’ve mentioned above, you’re not infected.
Yet there does seem to be a cure for the disease if you have it. Or at least it stops the faking.
RIAA shock treatment.
If you’ve read media accounts of those who won the RIAA lawsuit lottery, what is the first thing many of them do when the moment of truth comes? They destroy their files.
Now why would they do that? If this is all OK, and these people truly believed this wasn’t wrong, why would they do that?
I’ll tell you why. Deep down inside, they know it’s wrong. Deep down inside, you know it’s wrong. You know it’s a scam, and all the talk is part of it. You’re just going along for the ride because everyone else is.
You want, and you let that want break your brain, and to convince that little voice deep inside that makes you feel bad occasionally, you hang out with other broken brains convincing each other that their brains aren’t broken, but brilliant.
And when you hear a contrary voice like you do now, a voice that agrees with that little voice deep down, it makes you feel badly about yourself. But since you don’t want to stop, the only solution is to try to make that voice go away.
So you write and come up with some excuse to try the stop these scratchings of the soul. Any excuse, anything other than the real reason.
You’re not fooling anybody.
I won’t say every person who has written me over the years thinks that way, some have sincerely felt ODd after three straight days on the subject, but I’d say most do. There’s so many little slips made, so many comments that make no sense unless that’s the real reason.
But deep down inside, you know better than that.