Today, Public Knowledge and 27 other organizations, associations, and legal scholars sent a letter to the International Trade Commission opposing a recent decision that the Commission has authority to block Internet data transmissions. That decision concluded that the ITC’s authority to block the importation of copyright-and patent-infringing products extends to an ability to block Internet data transmissions into the United States.
Several outlets are reporting that the MPAA’s policy efforts have, over the past years, continued, post-SOPA (Stop Online Privacy Act), to focus on different theories of site blocking. With Congress wary of passing new legislation that could lead to private online censorship, the movie industry is apparently shopping around for other forums in which to press its site-blocking agenda.
Last month the House Republican Study Committee (RSC)
released (and then retracted 24 hours later) a thought-provoking policy paper
Myths About Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix It. As the leading
group for conservative policy ideas and discussion in the U.S. House of
Representatives, the RSC could play a critical role in presenting the
conservative arguments for copyright reform.
This past Friday, the House Republican
Study Committee released a policy brief entitled Three Myths About Copyright
Law and Where to Start to Fix it. The
brief, examines three common content
industry assertions about the benefits of copyright, and concludes that rather
than promoting productivity and innovation, current copyright law inhibits
them. The brief then makes a number of suggestions
to reform the system, including reducing statutory damages, expanding fair use,
punishing copyright abuse and shortening copyright terms significantly.
To hear the movie studios describe it, a world without robust (if not draconian) intellectual property protections is a world without a viable movie industry. This simple idea is at the heart of attempts to push through SOPA, PIPA, and whatever the IP enforcement bill of the month happens to be.
Naturally, this statement conveniently overlooks the fact that there are a number of countries with high levels of copyright infringement – India and Nigeria are but two examples – that also have rich home-grown movie industries. This incongruity between rhetoric and reality might be explained if we assume that when movie studios say “a viable movie industry” they really mean “a viable Hollywood movie industry.” However, there is one place where it is even harder to rationalize Hollywood rhetoric with Hollywood reality: China.