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US Chamber of Commerce: “Censoring Foreign P2P Sites Not Censorship”

US Chamber of Commerce: “Censoring Foreign P2P Sites Not Censorship”

Steve Tepp, Senior Director of Internet Counterfeiting and Piracy for the U.S. Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center, argues that recently proposed Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act does not amount to ” foreign political censorship” even though the bill would force ISPs to “prevent the importation into the United States of goods and services offered by an Internet site dedicated to infringing activities,” and it’s unlikely accused website operators from around the globe would be able to appear in a US courtroom to dispute the charges.

The US Chamber of Commerce is trying to counter critics claims that recently proposed legislation would not be tantamount to “foreign political censorship.”

Earlier this month group of Senators announced the introduction of the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” which they believe would give the Dept of Justice the tools it needs to track and shut down “websites devoted to providing access to unauthorized downloads, streaming or sale of copyrighted content and counterfeit goods.”

The Bill would give courts the power to order ISPs to “prevent the importation into the United States of goods and services offered by an Internet site dedicated to infringing activities,” and will force ISPs to “take reasonable steps that will prevent a domain name from resolving to that domain name’s Internet protocol address.”

Critics have blasted the legislation for being tantamount to illegal censorship of the web, particularly being that many website operators would be denied due process due to the unreasonable demand of having to travel from around the globe in order to appear in a US courtroom to fight the claims of copyright infringement.

Steve Tepp, Senior Director of Internet Counterfeiting and Piracy for the U.S. Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center, has now responded to this criticism in oddly worded response.

“Online counterfeiting and piracy is a destructive force that hurts the American economy, and the Leahy-Hatch bill addresses this illegal behavior by targeting the worst of the worst counterfeiters and copyright pirates online,” he says. “The assertion that this legislation equates to foreign political censorship is erroneous and does not accurately reflect this bill. Effective action against criminals whose products can kill and whose illicit profits steal American jobs is vastly different from foreign political censorship.”

Again we see a group trying to equate physical commercial piracy, even going to the extreme of using the example of fake pharmaceutical goods, as a justification to block noncommercial P2P sites. CAM copies of Iron Man 2 are unlikely to ever have caused any deaths, let alone created “profits that steal American jobs.”

Tepp says the legislation doesn’t equate to foreign censorship, but he goes on to say that it’s needed in light of the fact that “some countries have not succeeded in enforcing those [WTO] rules [regarding online piracy] effectively.” So I guess in his mind it’s okay to let US courts do the job of other countries even if it means the accused will likely be unable to have their day in court.

“This legislation provides a critically-needed tool to try to address what is globally acknowledged as criminal activity to protect America’s economic interests,” he adds.

File-sharing is hardly a criminal activity in the sense that he presumes it to be. File-sharing is exactly that – sharing – and to argue otherwise causes a loss of all credibility. True criminal activity means making a profit on the backs of the hard work of others. If file-sharing was stealing American jobs then why is is that the motion picture industry has enjoyed year after year of record breaking profits? Global ticket sales are up some 30% since 2005. Sounds like the motion picture industry is the one doing the stealing if he’s complaining about some intangible number of jobs lost.

Even the Government Accountability Office has acknowledged that the “illicit nature” of piracy means there is no real way to quantify actual losses, and that some studies have in fact shown piracy to have a “potential positive economic effect.”

The GAO found what most already knew: the effects of piracy aren’t as simple as lost sales or profits, that counterfeiting and piracy has had a range of effects, some negative, others positive. It cited lost profits and tax revenue as negatives for businesses and govt, but that consumers benefited from increased access and lower costs.

For Tepp it seems these arguments are a moot point.

“This bill targets illegal activity that costs American jobs and harms consumers,” he continues. “It is desperately needed and will send a clear signal that online counterfeiting and piracy is a crime and cannot be tolerated.”

Again, CAM copies of Iron Man 2 are not likely to have harmed anyone, especially consumers, and in cases where workprint copies of movies have leaked to BitTorrent before their big screen debut, they have still gone on to do extremely well at the box office.

Moreover, if we allow the govt to begin filtering websites without any public input or without a chance for the accused to properly dispute the charges then we provide for the creation of a slippery slope in which definitions can change over time.

Case in point is how the MPAA recently asked if the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) being negotiated could be used to cut off access to “damaging” sites such as WikiLeaks.

Do we really want to start filtering the Internet in the name of protecting corporate profits, especially if it’s unlikely to make them any more money? Internet users will be able to use proxies, VPNs, and a wide variety of other tools to evade any filtering mechanisms.

The only thing the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” will “protect” and “create” are copyright holders and a draconian system of de facto Internet censorship.

Even the Electronic Frontier Foundation has said that it would essentially give the govt the power to “break the Internet one domain at a time,” including even this very site, yours truly,  ZeroPaid.com.

Why?

“Sites that discuss and advocate for P2P technology or for piracy, like pirate-party.us, p2pnet, InfoAnarchy, Slyck and ZeroPaid: while these sites contain a great deal of news and political speech, they also regularly link to tools and information intended for file sharing, and the DOJ could well decide that infringement is “central” to their purpose and take the entire sites offline,” notes the EFF. “That outcome would be fundamentally contradictory to freedom of speech.”

So basically what the entertainment industry wants is, instead of simply being content with asking sites to remove copyrighted material, it wants the power to take down whole sites instead!

While President Obama condemns China and Iran for a closed and censored Internet policy, why is he silent while it happens here at home?

Moreover, the whole premise for the legislation – that jobs will be protected or created – is false. The legislation will prevent US citizens from accessing foreign P2P sites, and thereby copyrighted material, in order to force them into becoming paying customers of a given copyright holder’s industry.

This money has to come from somewhere.

File-sharers haven’t been stuffing what they would have otherwise paid to access copyrighted material under their mattress. This means that some of the money they would have otherwise spent on say a new shirt, shoes, a dinner, drinks with their buddies, or tires for their car, will now be diverted to copyright holders like the motion picture industry.

I guess for the MPAA record profits is not enough.

I’d say Tepp is simply uninformed, but considering he also touted the recent bogus Business Software Alliance (BSA) study, the one that rehashed the tired 1:1 lost sale argument, it might be that Tepp actually believes in his dubious claims. It’s worth noting that in that study too it was suggested that a reduction in piracy would lead to the magical creation of revenue and jobs, though from where was also conveniently left out.

Stay tuned.

[email protected]

Jared Moya
I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates. Twitter | Google Plus
oo0o Corporationions that buy out government and 2
oo0o Corporationions that buy out government and 2

Freedom for you each year people get more taxed, internet get more censored thank you government your making America more and more like china we all slaves to big corporations that are mafia have governments, politics in their greedy $$$ pockets people = Tax Sheeple milk them and tax them

D.AN
D.AN

If you think you are intelligent at all, guess again.

Quartz
Quartz

I,m not particularly targeting you or your comments Black beard, I of course like most folks am a reasonable human being and simply believe that when I purchase music i,m getting something a little more than just the music, I get the labels, the artwork ,the bands jibber jabber and I see what inspires the artists, that's what I,m paying for, escapism, if I simply wanted to listen to music I can turn on a radio hear the "new" stuff and even record it off air if I so choose, hearing something and enjoying it is an incentive to get some more of the same and my CD collection attests to this. Some folks wont care what you think or even listen to you because of your tone of post above, I will as we all have a moral duty to get on and leave some space in life for others to fill, I,m not a pirate nor a thief but a potential (and actual) customer and you yourself would be the first to jump up in protest if I asked you to buy an invisible guitar that you cant try out or even test simply on my say so, I can hear you laughing at that right now but that's just how the music industry are setting out there stall , whats gone so wrong ?

Jim
Jim

Black Beard. your grasp of Constitutional law is not as good as you thin. The Constitution establishes the U.S.A as a Republic, not a Democracy.

Paschar
Paschar

While we debate whether it's right or wrong, the vile politicians and industry parasites couldn't care less. The entertainment industries have been building towards this for years and all the alphabet agencies LOVE the idea. Look at all the freedoms stolen from the U.S. and much of the world for that matter in the name of "terrorism". I'd take the minuscule risk of terrorism over losing all our money and rights any day. It means more money for the entertainment industries and more control for governments. In their eyes it's a win-win. So don't bother trying to make logical thoughtful arguments with these criminals. Those that argue for it are either spectacularly simple minded or have a vested interest in stealing something that is truly value from the rest of us...freedom. I don't have patience for either.

Quartz
Quartz

Drew your wasting your time on explaining the fundamentals of democracy to paid shills opf the media corporations, they believe evrything is for sale and that the laws of the land do not apply to them they steal from the average joe in the street by demanding excessive copyright time periods that impinge on public domain works and generally try to censor those from whom they acehive no profit. We all know the history of those pushing for such draconian legislation and they most certainly are working against the public interest and taking donations to do so, thats called corruption in the free world but like most criminals such people try to rationalise it and call it "donations", such rationalisations fail simply because its the public purse they take their salary from and thus a clear conflict of interest is evidenced, I,m all for supporting the law, good law put in place by good men, when the laws are unjust and corrupt and put in place by the corrupt expect to see the honest joe in the street using his/her own judgement to arbitrate and negatate the work of such criminals.

Black Beard
Black Beard

Absolutely. File sharing is good - we're simply taking the time, effort, talent and money that went into producing a commercial product and helping ourselves and few million of our buddies to it for free. Screw the folks who produced it, they're a bunch of whiners anyway. I keep coming to this site looking for ANY glimpse of intelligence, even a flicker of understanding or economic acumen, and there's nothing. Pirates are a nothing but morally deficient trolls hiding behind internet anonymity and convincing themselves that, somehow, they deserve all their ill-gotten booty. You know, I really want anonymity, and net neutrality, and a free internet. However, it's the entitled pinheads that steal everything in sight that are ruining it for the rest of us. Governments are going to protect (and should, damn it all) the content creation industry, and if that means that the internet gets subjected to deep packet inspection and onerous firewalls then they'll damn well do it, and break everything that makes it useful in the process. So, yeah, compare yourselves to Jesus, and blame the folks who actually moved OUT of mama's basement and developed the skills to create the things you're swiping. We're ALL going to suffer for your stupidity.

dougm
dougm

i understand my govt looking out for terrorist and natl security concerns that manifest itself on the web. that is alot of work in itself, prone to mistake, and it takes a skilled team of analysts to figure iof its a blowhard or a suicide bomber. all they do is try to connect the dots - thats all. but to setup a system to bring down websites ad nausea will have a chilling effect on the web as a portal for vibrant discussion, commerce and information. the decision makers will imho be making broad-brush strokes takedowns for whatever suits their fancy. if the content is copyrighted, then there is the dmca and its procedures to remove it. this puts the govt in a really bad spot - who do they go after or don't will be scrutinized endlessly. howver, part of the problem that i think is unfair is the posting of content before its been released. i can understand any copyright holder at least wanting some time to reap from his efforts. those swarmy postings invite a heavy response.

Drew Wilson
Drew Wilson

To take from the Australian experience where that country was faced with internet censorship legislation (namely the EFA's comment), it's important for the government to protect the citizens from, not only the current government, but also future governments. If the government starts censoring the internet and keeps its word that only the bad and ebil websites get censored, whats to stop future governments from taking this power and censoring political speech and other non-criminal and legally questionable activities. This type of legislation is the kind of legislation where by trusting this government, you have to trust all future governments as well. Do you trust every single possible future government with this kind of power? I personally wouldn't. That's just how dangerous censorship legislation like this is.

JJ
JJ

It is not "censorship" to tell a meth dealer he cannot sell drugs on a street corner. If his actions are illegal, then he has no right to continue them. Same goes for online sites. Of course, Zeropaid is all about supporting piracy, so whether it is legal or illegal makes no difference in your eyes. But that does not change the basic way our laws work.

André
André

Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ multiplied the loaves and fishes, using the power of God. And today we multiply the culture using the technology. The culture is so important to people as food, because food is the aliment of the body and the culture is the aliment of the mind. Who thinks that what we're doing is wrong, Will be speaking that Christ was wrong.

anon
anon

FIRST! yeah f em all, the dinosaurs will b gone soon, then people will make cheap music because they will no longer only make 28 bucks on a thousand in sales because the riaa has to pay the radio to make me hear the same 6 songs every hour all day long...

Quartz
Quartz

We must not give in to these terrorist state ideals, all folks intent on enjoying the freedoms their parents paid for in blood and tears should encrypt their traffic and write letters of protest to any group urging the redaction of democracy and the freedom of speech or expression, sure we all say a fair legal framework can be of benefit hower the proposed legislation is neither balanced or fair instead favouring the childish and selfish whims of its paymaster backers at the media corporations, senators who sell out on democracy are not fit for office.

Black Beard
Black Beard

Actually, I have a pretty good background in constitutional law, so I think I've got a basic grasp of democracy. As I admitted above, I make my living thanks to intellectual property -- you know, making the sort of things that can be easily copied. I think you'd be surprised at how many creative types agree that copyrights are too long. I've never lobbied for copyright extension. My products make almost all of the money they're ever going to in the first ten or fifteen years. The creative commons HAS been impoverished, and it's a real problem. I do think it's pretty strange that I'm accused of being "greedy" or "stealing from the public" when I try to charge for the results of my labor . . . but that's a different discussion. Frankly, I'd be willing to live with the original 28 year period of copyright. Oh, and if we hadn't signed the stupid Berne treaty, going to a formalities based system requiring registration would be great. Not everything I scribble on a napkin needs to be protected by copyright! Furthermore, I'd love to see a system where copyright protection beyond the first few years costs money. If I think my thirty-year-old creation has commercial value, and I don't want it to fall into the public domain just yet, maybe I should pay for the privilege. Of course, Berne forbids that as well . .. However, all of this discussion is a red herring. The pirates aren't particularly interested in taking my older products and "liberting" them from an excessively long copyright. Heck, I do that with creative commons/GNU/BSD licenses anyway (and yes, I've released a lot of work for free, even if I am a greedy bastard who wants money for some of my work). The pirates are far more interested in taking the work I released last month.

Scary Devil Monastery
Scary Devil Monastery

In other words, "Black Beard"...it's ok to hit your wife as long as she was provocative enough? Thank you. Your opinion is duly noted, but unlike Drew Wilson I'll assign you to the next category he didn't mention - the one where a specific kind of person utilizes the opposition to an idea as a justification for mass surveillance, genocide, or murder. To summarize - back to the DDR with you, old troll, or Soviet Russia/Red China.

yah
yah

Dude...you've in the wrong place if you think you can talk intellect with these ninnies...

Jared Moya
Jared Moya

You make about as much sense as this Tripp idiot. You're basically saying that because you arent making as much money as you THINK you should you want to take away everybody's rights. FACTS: 1. Movie industry has been making record profits year after year going back as far as 2005. 2. Musicians' income is up 66% since the advent of digital music. Who again are you trying to "save?" Sounds like you're the one living in a basement. I bet that's where you keep the dead hookers too. :)

Drew Wilson
Drew Wilson

You, sir, fall in to one of these categories: 1. Someone who simply doesn't understand the magnitude of the topic at hand. 2. Someone who is willfully ignorant of the issue at hand. 3. Someone who has been paid to spread misinformation. 4. A zealot who simply refuses to accept facts. What we are dealing with is censorship. An organization who suddenly has the power to block any site they choose. This is an extremely dangerous thing when even proposing to use political power as a vehicle for censorship. Take a look at what happened in Russia earlier this month. The Russian government raided a bunch of NGOs who were advocates for the environment on the excuse of enforcing Microsoft's intellectual property. Several international observers notes that this could be a new trend for a new tool for governments to suppress dissent of any kind and it has absolutely nothing to do with copyright. In Australia, they wanted to filter out any form of "inappropriate content". It was later revealed that they were wanting to filter p2p content as well. Then, after a leak, it was found out that the government was planning on blocking Australian political sites that they deem as troublesome. After all of this, defenders said it was just to filter out child porn, but the reality of the filtering program was so far removed from their claims, it caused the overall collapse of the censorship movement. Germany, they found that filtering didn't stop anything undesirable and concluded that deleting content was more effective then blocking it. China wanted to stop porn on the internet, but as well all know, it was used as a political censorship tool. Thailand was a very similar situation. History and experience has shown that censorship: a) does not stop its alleged target supporters were hoping for and b) always has wound up as a vehicle for political censorship So either accept the facts and conclude that this is a really bad idea, or continue to speak with your head three feet in the sand while you philosophize about a flat Earth.

Jared Moya
Jared Moya

Did you really compare meth and sharing files? Sharing a movie with a friend or stranger will hardly ruin their lives. Enough said.

Drew Wilson
Drew Wilson

If you hate free speech so much, why don't you move to China? You can dress it up, add a bow, polish it up or do whatever else you want to do with this topic, but at the end of the day, this is censorship. Trying to use criminal examples of civil matters won't change that fact either. Meth dealers and online free speech (whether you realize it or not, that is what you are doing) is comparing apples and oranges.

D.AN
D.AN

Only those who cannot form a single simple argument are pathetic 'ninnies'.

Black Beard
Black Beard

Drew, First, I apologize for the tone of my rant, there are some good folks here, and your response was better reasoned than my post. Thank you for that. My point, poorly made though it was, is that piracy IS widespread, and while it's impossible to actually prove how much (if any) harm it does, there is a general perception that it is harmful to artists. Since I make my living producing goods which are widely pirated, I also believe it's harmful. (Admittedly I cannot conclusively prove I've been harmed, how could I?) However, regardless of the amount of real harm, the perception of harm is all that is needed for politicians to justify passing ever more draconian laws. Drew, I agree with you completely that the effectiveness of these laws is questionable, and the unintended consequences are likely to be dire. I LIKE my free internet. I LIKE the fact that I have enough anonymity that I can post a rant under a stupid pseudonym without being unduly worried that it will be be used as a justification to attack my business or my home. The problem is, piracy has put the citizens and the government at war. Intellectual property is a huge source of income in America, and one of our biggest exports. The politicos have to try to protect it. The problem is, they're not fighting against some Russian mob, they're fighting against a large percentage of their population. So, they pass draconian laws, and the pirates either encrypt their data or move to darknets, and then the government passes MORE laws. The INTENT of this stupid law is not overtly to censure, it's to stop foreign websites from blatantly flaunting copyright and presumably harming American businesses. Personally, I'd like to shut down a handful of sites offering the results of the last 15 years of my professional life for free. Some of these sites, as far as I can tell, offer no legitimate products, and exist only to profit from the work of others. Of course, here they're heroes for "sticking it to the man." Of course, I don't think the government will EVER manage to stop piracy, it's an impossible task. But they can sure make a wasteland out of the internet, and destroy what little right to privacy I have left in their efforts to do so. If the pirates were a little less pervasive, and a little less smug, and a lot less aggressive, the situation might resolve itself before my happy internet is a smoking ruin of pay-gates and censorship. And now, I'm going to grab a big bowl of popcorn, and go back to watching the world implode. Hooray! Anyway, thank you for your intelligent response.

Anonymous
Anonymous

If you value free speech so much, why do you need to approve comments? To block spam? Isn't spam "free speech" too? So why does ZeroPaid hate freedom of speech? Fact of the matter is copyright infringement is not free speech. Courts have already decided as much. It is illegal. And illegal activities are not protected by freedom of speech.

Drew Wilson
Drew Wilson

"Personally, I’d like to shut down a handful of sites offering the results of the last 15 years of my professional life for free. Some of these sites, as far as I can tell, offer no legitimate products, and exist only to profit from the work of others. Of course, here they’re heroes for “sticking it to the man.”" We're probably thinking of different sites, but I know I use a few "pirate" sites to promote my work with a fair bit of success. You may think of these sites as thieving, I think of them as opportunities to expand an audience for my productions. Am I thrilled that some of these sites have ads? Not 100%, but I also realize that server space isn't free either, so I think of that as a necessary evil. It's certainly even less of an evil than some of the record labels pulling in almost all of the money from album sales while expecting artists to fend for themselves. Just sayin'.

D.AN
D.AN

As I have restated many times immemorial, censorship is the indisputably most idiotic concept known under the context of information and knowledge with respect to objectivity.

D.AN
D.AN

They are tried under their own laws and under their own justice systems.

Anonymous
Anonymous

What percent of illegal content would a site have to offer for it to be legitimately blockable in your opinion then?

Anonymous
Anonymous

How do you give a trial to someone in a foreign nation that doesn't want to come to the US to be tried? If they want to run their site under their own country's laws, they can still do so on their own country's domain name and hosting.

Jared Moya
Jared Moya

Spam as free speech? Come one you sound like the idiot who compared meth dealing with file-sharing. Nobody's suggesting that copyright infringement is free speech - NOBODY. It's the fact that it would mean blocking content on a site that is. The First Amendment teaches that speech should be pro-actively blocked only in the rarest of circumstances. This is especially true because the type of restraint imposed by S. 3804 – the total suspension or blocking of a siteʼs domain name – would unavoidably block lawful content as well as infringing content.

Jared Moya
Jared Moya

U sound like the guy who compared meth dealers to file-sharers. Lame. This bill extends the courtsʼ reach to domain names owned by speakers far outside the United Stateʼs geographic borders – far from the kind of procedure that ensures a full and fair trial with all interested parties present.



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