US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke talked about copyright enforcement yesterday in Nashville, Tennessee, and in his speech, he reiterated that the Obama administration believes piracy is theft, even though the laws of every modern nation - including the US - sees quite a clear and distinct difference between the two.
"And I think it's important to lay down a marker about how the Obama administration views this issue," Locke said, "As Vice President Biden has said on more than one occasion, 'Piracy is flat, unadulterated theft', and it should be dealt with accordingly."
It's an interesting proposition, one that goes against 200+ years of US and western law. I'm assuming, therefore, that the Obama administration is working on a proposal to massively overhaul US copyright and criminal law to ensure that the act of theft includes both real theft as well as piracy.
Also, as pointed out by Ars Technica, this means we can stop with these bizarre statutory damages. "There's much to be said for this view of 'dealing with' piracy," argues Nate Andersen, "Which is why we have long argued that the judgments handed down in P2P lawsuits against twenty-something music fans have been ludicrous. $1.92 million? $675,000? No one walking out of a Walmart with a stack of Richard Marx discs under his arm would be subject to such penalties."
It's interesting to see how Locke inadvertently touches upon the very core of the issue at hand - namely, what is the role of copyright law? "Recently, I've had a chance to read letters from award winning writers and artists whose livelihoods have been destroyed by music piracy," he said, "One letter that stuck out for me was a guy who said the songwriting royalties he had depended on to 'be a golden parachute to fund his retirement had turned out to be a lead balloon'."
And this is the very core of the matter. Copyright law was never meant to provide songwriters with golden parachutes - it was meant to promote the arts, which is a completely different thing. Earlier this year, I quoted a British pamphlet from 1735, a pamphlet against perpetual copyright (pretty much what we have now).
The author of this pamphlet clearly understood what copyright was meant to do. Sadly, the content industry's popcicle has penetrated governments the world over so deeply that otherwise intelligent people like Biden and Obama have lost any form of rational thought when it comes to copyright and intellectual property.
With these incredibly incompetent people at the helm of copyright/IP "reform" in the US, there doesn't appear to be light at the end of the tunnel. It won't be long now before monitoring software will come pre-installed on all your devices. I'm sure someone will be able to link it to 9/11, which pretty much green-lights everything.
Lord Camden said it best when he warned for perpetual copyright. "All our learning will be locked up in the hands of the Tonsons and the Lintots of the age. [...] Knowledge and science are not things to be bound in such cobweb chains."