This article originally appeared in the 4.18.13 issue of Metroland
Urgh. The events in
Boston are gonna further wreck your freedom.
Just watch. Last night I was
listening to a special program from WBUR about the bombings, featuring listener
call-ins. The first call was from a guy
from Georgia indignantly demanding to know how something like this could happen
after the billions of dollars we’re spent since 9-11 on homeland security. Sure, it’s an utterly moronic question, but
you know it’s being echoed everywhere.
Why can’t somebody do something
course, being a moronic question, it is destined to be asked in the Halls of
Congress. In times of crisis, even an
unpreventable crisis like this appears to be, Congress has to do something
under the fiction that we can
insure that nothing like this ever, ever happens again. If Congress doesn’t do something
, Congress appears impotent. If Congress doesn’t do something
terrorists, whoever the hell they are this time, will have won!
unfortunately, there is a something
can do that’s already before it--- CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and
Protection Act), a hideous little law
being pushed by House Republicans, those buffoons who are against government,
except when it comes to controlling the little guy. The proposed law would allow any company that
collects online data from people, essentially every company you use to get
online and every company that you visit online, to be immune from any lawsuits
arising from the company’s sharing all of that data with the government. In other words, those privacy policies you
see on every website you visit, that you think protect you? They’re meaningless! If your ISP channels all your emails to, say,
the FBI, there’s nothing you can do.
ridiculous and overbroad, and it trumps every other law on the books that’s
supposed to be protecting your privacy.
As I write this, it’s sailing through the House and in its way to the
Senate. The White House has said it will
veto the law unless it contains privacy protections, like limiting the immune
shared information to stuff that doesn’t contain individuals’ identities. But that’s not what the Republicans
want. They want their foot on your
neck. You just know that some pantload
Senator is going to get on the floor and declare that he knows for a moral
certainty that had CISPA already been the law that the Boston Marathon tragedy
would have been averted. And the Fox
News will amplify it. And then how is
Obama gonna veto the very thing that would have saved those precious lives?
schmivacy. You know, if you ain’t doin’
nothin’ wrong you got nothin’ to worry about.
Right? Time to get your VPN
on. A couple months ago a young
libertarian-leaning House staffer issued a report that said, essentially, that
the entire Copyright Act was a piece of crap that was being used to block
innovation and creativity and that it should just be thrown out. The dude got fired a couple days later. But just a few weeks ago the Register of
Copyrights, Maria Pallante, marched up to Capitol Hill and pretty much said the
same thing. She told Congress that it
was time for the “next great copyright act,” noting that the current laws,
created largely in the 20 years leading up to the 1976 Copyright Act, simply
don’t address the digital age.
never much trusted the Copyright Office and the Obama Administration regarding
IP issues, Pallante’s remarks were really quite revolutionary and on the
mark. Here’s a money quote that alludes
to the corporate hijacking of the Copyright Act with pages of impenetrable
dissemination of content is so pervasive to life in the 21st century, the law
also should be less technical and more helpful to those who need to navigate it....
my point is, if one needs an army of
lawyers to understand the basic precepts of the law, then it is time for a new
hello! She went on to emphasize that the
public good is what copyright law is supposed to be about, and that the
discussion for the new law had to include not just businesses, but parties
representing the public, the ultimate end-users of IP. She listed some of the things that she felt needed
to be done, including dealing with orphan works, reforming the music
marketplace, creating fairness in licensing, reevaluating what rights a
copyright holder should have or not have, making sense of fair use, and
restoring a robust public domain by shortening the automatic term of copyright.
It’s a nice
start. Given that the last go-round took
over 20 years at a time when copyright law was an arcane subject that directly
affected very few, it’s gonna be interesting, to say the least, to see how this
Paul C. Rapp is a
local IP lawyer and volunteer firefighter who, like Kenny Loggins, Lou Reed, Paula
Cole, Human League, Matisyahu, and Barbara Streisand, believes in love.