Gonzales proposing new Orwellian thought crimes law

At what point do these so-called conservatives out there plan to speak up against this crap?

From CNet, then my analysis:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is pressing the U.S. Congress to enact a sweeping intellectual-property bill that would increase criminal penalties for copyright infringement, including “attempts” to commit piracy…. The Bush administration is throwing its support behind a proposal called the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007, which is likely to receive the enthusiastic support of the movie and music industries, and would represent the most dramatic rewrite of copyright law since a 2005 measure dealing with prerelease piracy….

The IPPA would, for instance:

* Criminalize “attempting” to infringe copyright. Federal law currently punishes not-for-profit copyright infringement with between 1 and 10 years in prison, but there has to be actual infringement that takes place….

* Permit more wiretaps for piracy investigations. Wiretaps would be authorized for investigations of Americans who are “attempting” to infringe copyrights….

* Allow computers to be seized more readily. Specifically, property such as a PC “intended to be used in any manner” to commit a copyright crime would be subject to forfeiture, including civil asset forfeiture….

* Require Homeland Security to alert the Recording Industry Association of America. That would happen when CDs with “unauthorized fixations of the sounds, or sounds and images, of a live musical performance” are attempted to be imported.

Oh where to begin?

First off, what this legislation is really about: The Homeland Security department getting carte blanche authorization to fish through your computer and tap your phones with impunity, whenever they want, so long as they argue that they think you might have ever tried to download even a single song via Limewire or some of other music-sharing software, or have ever copied a photo off the Internet, or even watched a single clip from any TV show on YouTube. They’re going to use this legislation to hunt for terrorists, and won’t need search warrants, etc. That’s what this is about.

Now to the specifics.

1. Why change the law to an “attempt” to infringe? Copyright law has been fine until now, why change it?

2. As mentioned above, they can wiretap anyone who may be “attempting” to infringe on copyright. That means if they suspect that you may have saved a copy on your computer of one of my orchid photos they can tap your phones, without a warrant I suspect. They can also tap your phone if they think your teenage daughter may be “attempting” to download a song online. They could also tap the phones of every YouTube user who has ever posted a clip from any TV show. Think about that.

3. They can seize your computer, forever, if you “intend” to copy even one song or one photo from the Internet. Not if you DO copy it. Just if you even just plan on it in your mind. And the religious right has a problem with hate crime laws? At least with hate crime laws you actually have to have committed a violent crime like murder or aggravated assault. And Bush is threatening a veto of that bill. But he has no problem with a bill that throws you in jail for just thinking of maybe downloading music or a photo or posting a copy of a Washington Post article to your blog or putting a clip from the Daily Show or South Park on YouTube (that too would permit Bush to tap your phones).

And finally, if Homeland Security doesn’t have enough work to do already, and has the time to set up a hotline to the Record Industry Association every time little Suzie downloads a Christina Aguilera song, well, then we might as well just pack it in and put up a big welcome sign for Osama to hit us again.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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