Movie & Music Trade Groups Suggest Orwellian Measures to Stop Piracy

By Smriti Rao | April 19, 2010 12:37 pm

computers-networkOnline piracy has plagued the music and movie industry for years, with copyright infringement causing millions of dollars in loss each year. So when the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (the copyright czar) asked the entertainment industry to submit proposals to the government for ways to protect intellectual property, the industry came out all guns blazing.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) came out with a set of proposals (pdf) that would combat piracy by invading the privacy of consumers and putting the federal government to work for the entertainment industry.

For example, the trade groups suggest that spyware could be installed on home computers across the land. This special software would identify and block content that violates fair use, block certain keywords that might lead to sites with illegally obtained content, and monitor social networks for the promotion of infringing Web sites.

The industry also wants border authorities to educate everyone entering the United States about piracy issues, suggesting that customs forms should be amended to require the disclosure of pirate or counterfeit items being brought into the United States. The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports:

Does that iPod in your hand luggage contain copies of songs extracted from friends’ CDs? Is your computer storing movies ripped from DVD (handy for conserving battery life on long trips)? Was that book you bought overseas “licensed” for use in the United States? These are the kinds of questions the industry would like you to answer on your customs form when you cross borders or return home from abroad.

In another proposal involving the federal government, the trade groups suggest that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security should form an inter-agency task force that would be poised to strike whenever a big blockbuster film is about to be released. The task force should “work with industry to coordinate and make advance plans to try to interdict these most damaging forms of copyright theft, and to react swiftly with enforcement actions where necessary,” the industry suggests.

Many experts described these proposals as “draconian,” “totally insane,” and a dystopian vision of an “intellectual property police state.” Geekosystem writes:

The joint proposal from the MPAA and RIAA is, as one might suspect, the sort of thing that wouldn’t seem amiss coming out of the mouth of a black clad man with one cataract-filled eye, who sits in a swivel chair at one end of a glossy conference table and strokes a white Persian cat. Once he finishes speaking, his henchmen drag you away from your computer, screaming.

Of course, these are just proposals made by the industry and nowhere close to being actual law. But Geekosystem adds that the proposals are an informative look at what the MPAA and RIAA would like to get with, if they could.

Related Content:
80beats: Italian Court Convicts Google Execs for Hosting Illegal Video
Discoblog: Sweet Blogger O’ Mine, You’re Under Arrest
DISCOVER: The Intellectual Property Fight That Could Kill Millions

Image: iStockphoto

  • Katharine

    What would be awesome is if piracy would go up in response to this.

  • Matias

    Each dying gasp of an industry technology has superseded feeds my hopes for the future. Information wants to be free. The digital revolution is doing us a wonderful favor by taking the profit motive out of artistic production.

    You can try to shut down the internet, or you can change your revenue model. Legislators need to step aside and let the dinosaurs die, I have no doubt man will continue to create music long after the 20th century record industry is dead.

  • Turdboy

    You can protect yourself. Check out FreeNet (or Tor). FreeNet ( is the ultimate in security, but Tor ( is much easier to setup.

    If you want to encrypt your drive in case the pigs come knocking on your door, there’s Truecrypt (

  • Klondike5

    “I have no doubt man will continue to create music long after the 20th century record industry is dead.” –QFT

  • Brian Too

    This from the industry that allowed a computer company to become #1 in online music sales.

    How did that happen? The music biz should have had an ironclad lock on a new marketing channel, but no, all they could see was the piracy. Not much has changed either.

  • Sam I Am

    Seems to me in the larger sense this is not about music and movies at all. This is about whether digital IP of every kind (the 21st century coin of the realm) will be lost to rampant piracy or secured and retained as viable and saleable product in the years and decades ahead. Does government just walk away from digital and let it go as a commercial format? Or do they amend the constitution to retain digital IP and the industries that create it going forward?

    This degree of lockdown is likely coming. I wonder what other choice the governments might really have.

  • Doug

    “Online piracy has plagued the music and movie industry for years, with copyright infringement causing millions of dollars in loss each year. . . .” prove it. Just how many millions of dollars are lost and cite your sources. I don’t steal music, I buy it or rent it but I stopped buying music CD’s from the major companies years ago when they decided to treat all of their customers, including me, as if we are thieves. I no longer buy DVD’s for the same reason.

  • Katharine

    Meh. The music and movie industries can suck it. Actors and musicians make too much anyway.

    Oh, you want your multimillion-dollar salary and your absurdly high standard of living that involves owning, for example, yachts, which you rarely use, that cost more than an undergraduate degree and a PhD COMBINED from the most expensive universities in the United States? Make it by doing something useful, idiot.

  • Barnum

    After studying this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you taking the time to place this website piece together. I when once more come across myself spending way to very much time both reading and commenting. What ever, it was still worth it


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