The entertainment industry appears to be hell-bent not only on destroying any concept of fair use of copyrighted material, but is also out to make it a crime to use technology to skip commercials when viewing a pre-recorded DVD or television show. Oh, and it’ll also put into law your right to skip scenes of graphic sex or violence, which is kinda stupid as you already have that right. That is if your friendly neighborhood congressman can manage to get the bill pushed through the lame-duck session that starts this week.
The Senate might vote on HR2391 (.pdf), the Intellectual Property Protection Act, a comprehensive bill that opponents charge could make many users of peer-to-peer networks, digital-music players and other products criminally liable for copyright infringement. The bill would also undo centuries of “fair use”—the principle that gives Americans the right to use small samples of the works of others without having to ask permission or pay.
The bill lumps together several pending copyright bills including HR4077, the Piracy Deterrence and Education Act, which would criminally punish a person who “infringes a copyright by … offering for distribution to the public by electronic means, with reckless disregard of the risk of further infringement.” Critics charge the vague language could apply to a person who uses the popular Apple iTunes music-sharing application.
The bill would also permit people to use technology to skip objectionable content—like a gory or sexually explicit scene—in films, a right that consumers already have. However, under the proposed language, viewers would not be allowed to use software or devices to skip commercials or promotional announcements “that would otherwise be performed or displayed before, during or after the performance of the motion picture,” like the previews on a DVD. The proposed law also includes language from the Pirate Act (S2237), which would permit the Justice Department to file civil lawsuits against alleged copyright infringers.
We’re going to put commercials on your DVDs then force you to sit through them and, by-fucking-God, you’re gonna LIKE IT!! None shall pass the Pepsi Cola ads!!! But we won’t bother lowering the price in return for forcing you to sit through our commercials, natch.
The Recording Industry Association of America vigorously defended the bill, saying it would provide a “common sense set of tools that will help law enforcement better deter and prosecute theft.”
“This legislation enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. Many pieces of it already have unanimously passed one house of Congress,” RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy wrote in an e-mail. “The intellectual property industries are one of our leading national exports, and it’s appropriate for the federal government to have a role in protecting those sectors from rampant piracy.”
Someone please explain to me how prohibiting one from skipping commercials is a form of protection against rampant piracy. Every time technology and copyright have clashed in the past it was copyright that was changed to accommodate. This is the first time that technology is being forced to change and the sad part is these people don’t realize they’re only going to make things worse for themselves. The folks who want to pirate this stuff are going to continue to do so as there isn’t a protection scheme you can make that they can’t break. Meanwhile they’re going to make their products so unappealing to the folks who purchase them legitimately that those folks will just not bother after awhile. This will naturally lead to the entertainment industry jumping up and down and blaming the loss of sales on all those damned pirates instead of their own incompetence and a new round of draconian legislation will be slip through congress on the grease of major political contributions to only compound the situation.
I really hope I’m wrong in that prediction, but I have a bad feeling that I’m not.