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Monday, October 27, 2014

Ethical Issues concerning Child-Pornography Dr Peter J. King

Ethical Issues concerning Child-Pornography Dr Peter J. King

Why the Copyright Monopoly Is Damaging Your Artistic Career

Why the Copyright Monopoly Is Damaging Your Artistic Career…
byZacqary Adam Green
The following comes from Zacqary Adam Green, founder of free culture arts collective Plankhead and activist in the New York Pirate Party.

So you’re an artist, author, or creative person, and you’ve heard the arguments against the copyright monopoly. That it locks away knowledge from the public. That it hurts free speech. That it’s declaring a monopoly on an idea. Okay, but what about your paycheck?

As it turns out, the copyright monopoly is a raw deal that helps corporations steal your profits and barely helps you at all.

Copyright is more like a monopoly than property, but it’s treated a lot like title deeds in the Monopoly board game. That means the right to control your work — to say who can distribute it, reproduce it, remix it, build off of it, etc. — is a thing that can be bought and sold. Big entertainment companies love this situation,because that means it is legally possible for them to take your control over your work away from you.

The publisher who options a book, changes their mind, and then doesn’t allow the author to go to another publisher. The screenplay wrestled from its visionary creator, maimed by a team of hack studio writers, and released as an unrecognizable crappy comedy that flops at the box office. The album kept unreleased, in legal limbo for years after its been recorded because of a business deal gone bad.

All of these incredibly common situations are made possible by the copyright monopoly — and the ability to sign it away to a big company, forever, with no going back.
This is how the copyright industry — which is what I like to call these entertainment companies — makes its money. Not by creating anything of its own, but by silencing its competitors (and you). They need the ability to buy, sell, and trade away a monopoly right on ideas, words, and other intangible things, because otherwise they wouldn’t be able to dominate. They wouldn’t be able to siphon off all your profits, to maim and mutilate your work, and to use accounting tricks to keep themselves from paying you, because you would have a way out. But with this institution of tradeable monopolies on your work, massive corporate titans are able to pummel anything in their way, get away with screwing over creative people, and then lobby for draconian Internet censorship laws in your name.

And what do you get out of the deal? Well, if you somehow manage to retain control of your copyright monopoly, you can use it to stop other people from downloading your work, remixing it, using it in something else, or doing pretty much anything unless they pay you. Or so goes the story.

You probably can’t, though.
The legal costs of enforcing your copyright monopoly are astronomical, and only the big corporations are usually able to take advantage of it. And there are some things that are so widespread — like downloading your work without paying for it — that not even big corporations with all their resources can stop.
The big lie of the copyright monopoly is that it can make any dent whatsoever in social mores. 

Some people may download your work for free — but they’ll also pay you if they like you.  Some people may plagiarize your work — but the Internet makes it easier than ever to expose them and laugh them out of the room.  Some people may take your work, and remix it into something that expresses a political opinion you disagree with — but sometimes we can’t control how people interpret our work anyway.
Nobody really thinks about who the rightsholder is on anything in these situations. They just worry about who the author is, and they act accordingly.

You do have a choice aside from signing your work away to the copyright industry.

Think about how workers around the world have struggled against exploitative corporations for over a century. They united. Band together with your fellow artists, help each other create and promote your work, and use Creative Commons Zero to completely obliterate your monopoly so that nobody can take it away from you.

(note: don’t use other CC licenses; these still use copyright, so you can still have your work signed away)

If you’re upset with the way people are using or obtaining your work, then instead of using a byzantine legal system, you’d have a much better time trying to change cultural norms and social mores. After all, you’re an artist. You’ve got a natural talent for communicating and moving people.

Nobody needs the copyright monopoly except for giant corporations. The “protections” it offers creative people are thin and unreliable at best, at a cost of propping up a system of exploitation.

Health And Human Services Ex-Cybersecurity Director Convicted Of Kiddy Porn

Health And Human Services Ex-Cybersecurity Director Convicted Of Kiddy Porn by Timothy Geigner
from the guarding-the-chicken-coop dept
There seems to be someone asleep at the wheel in the federal government's HR department, given how many questionable people have been put in high profile/high responsibility security positions. Kieth Alexander, uber-Patriot, locked his cyber-security expertise up with a patent. The White House's cyber-security guy can't wait to tell you how little he knows about his job. Homeland Security's former Inspector General was accused of a ridiculously long list of questionable behavior (in addition to having no qualifications for the job). And now, ex-director of cybersecurity for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been convicted on kiddy porn charges.

Timothy DeFoggi, 56, formerly of Germantown, Md., is the sixth individual to be convicted as part of an ongoing investigation targeting three child pornography websites, the Justice Department said. He faces sentencing on Nov. 7 based on the findings Tuesday that he engaged in a child-exploitation enterprise, conspired to advertise and distribute child pornography, and accessed a computer with intent to view child pornography in connection with his membership in a child-pornography website.

Oh, well that's just great. The head cyber-security guy for a government organization that includes divisions for preventing child abuse and child support enforcement was a pedophile at best. Let's be clear: according to the evidence presented by prosecutors, DeFoggi is simply as bad as it gets.

"Through the website, DeFoggi accessed child pornography, solicited child pornography from other members, and exchanged private messages with other members where he expressed an interest in the violent rape and murder of children," prosecutors added. "DeFoggi even suggested meeting one member in person to fulfill their mutual fantasies to violently rape and murder children."

I'd like to take a moment to remind everyone reading this that the United States federal government has engaged in widespread surveillance on its own people. They're watching what you do, particularly online. They're intruding on our lives in ways Orwell couldn't have dreamed of. And they're doing it all under the notion that it's for our protection. If we must live with that kind of intrusion for the time being, is it too much to ask that the government manage to weed out violent child-rapists from their own ranks as some kind of accommodation?

Prosecutors In 'Sexting' Case Apparently Obtained Search Warrant To Photograph Teen's Penis

Prosecutors In 'Sexting' Case Apparently Obtained Search Warrant To Photograph Teen's Penis
Prosecutors In 'Sexting' Case Apparently Obtained Search Warrant To Photograph Teen's Penis

SWAT Team Raids Home Because Guy Had An Open Wireless Router

SWAT Team Raids Home Because Guy Had An Open Wireless Router by Mike Masnick
from the wrong-lessons-learned dept

This is just ridiculous. Apparently a SWAT team raided the home of an innocent guy, accusing him of downloading child porn:

Lying on his family room floor with assault weapons trained on him, shouts of "pedophile!" and "pornographer!" stinging like his fresh cuts and bruises, the Buffalo homeowner didn't need long to figure out the reason for the early morning wake-up call from a swarm of federal agents. 

That new wireless router. He'd gotten fed up trying to set a password. Someone must have used his Internet connection, he thought. 

"We know who you are! You downloaded thousands of images at 11:30 last night," the man's lawyer, Barry Covert, recounted the agents saying. They referred to a screen name, "Doldrum." 

"No, I didn't," he insisted. "Somebody else could have but I didn't do anything like that." 

"You're a creep ... just admit it," they said.

It seems that law enforcement folks now admit that they screwed up, but the "lesson" they're getting out of it seems completely backwards. They're saying the lesson is that you should protect your WiFi router. That may be a good idea for some people, but there are plenty of legitimate reasons for offering an open WiFi connection. Furthermore, as noted, some people don't know how to set up their WiFi security. 

But the bigger questions are:

1) Why is law enforcement sending in a SWAT team for child porn downloads? You could potentially see it in cases of production, but with downloads, can't they just do a standard arrest?

2) Why didn't they do a simple check beforehand to see if the router was open before bursting into the home with assault weapons and unproven assertions?

3)How come none of the "cautionary lessons" involve law enforcement folks realizing that they overreacted?What's really disturbing is that the thrust of the original article is all about how this is a cautionary tale for wireless router owners, rather than a cautionary tale about overaggressive law enforcement.

Lamar Smith Tries To Defend SOPA (The Stop Online Piracy Act); Suggests That Infringement Is The Equivalent Of Child Porn

Lamar Smith Tries To Defend SOPA (The Stop Online Piracy Act); Suggests That Infringement Is The Equivalent Of Child Porn
by Mike Masnick
from the taking-the-high-road? dept
Rep. Lamar Smith, who introduced SOPA in the House, has now taken to the pages of the National Review to defend the bill... and yet he does so in a way that makes almost no sense at all. Frankly, some of it makes me wonder if he even recognizes what's in his own bill... and what existing law is. Let's dig in to some of it:

Claims that the Stop Online Piracy Act will censor legal activity on the Internet are blatantly false. Enforcing the law against criminals is not censorship.

Sigh. Not this again. Look: no one is saying enforcing the law against criminals is the problem. The concern is enforcing it against protected speech (i.e., not infringing speech). And even SOPA supporters' lawyer of choice, Floyd Abrams, has admitted that SOPA would block protected speech (just not enough to concern him). But, more to the point, it undoubtedly is censorship. Law professor Derek Bambauer has pointed out that any blocking of speech is censorship -- and that our society agrees that some forms of censorship are actually okay. The question is whether or not we agree that this form of censorship is okay.

The Stop Online Piracy Act specifically targets websites dedicated to illegal and infringing activity. Often based overseas, these websites are called 'rogue sites' because they flout U.S. law and face zero legal consequences for their criminal activity. Rogue sites not only steal America's products and profits; they steal jobs that rightly belong here at home. This bill cuts off the flow of revenue to rogue sites by preventing criminals from selling and distributing counterfeit products to U.S. consumers.

Fluff and rhetoric with almost no basis, for the most part. First, the problem many of us have is that the definitions are super broad and do not "specifically target websites dedicated to illegal and infringing activity." The definitions allow for much broader attacks. As for the so-called "rogue sites," many of them do face legal consequences at home (witness Swedish prosecution against the Pirate Bay, lawsuits against RapidShare, MegaUpload and others -- all three of which have been called rogue sites by supporters of this bill). Claiming they face no legal consequences is blatantly false. Furthermore, they all face significant business consequences. If they're consistently bad actors, that limits their ability to build a significant business. The final sentence reverts to "counterfeit products." Of course, just yesterday we went through SOPA supporters' own numbers on this and showed that the issue of counterfeit products is miniscule. The problem is when they lump in dealing with the narrow problem of counterfeit products with a very different issue: copyright infringement. Let's deal with the two problems separately. (Also, how do you "steal profits" and "steal jobs"? That's meaningless political rhetoric.)

The bill defines rogue sites as websites that are dedicated to the facilitation of the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit or pirated goods. Websites like Facebook and YouTube that host user content are not 'dedicated to' illegal activity and they certainly do not make a business out of 'facilitating' the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit or pirated goods. But if a user posts illegal content on a website like Facebook or YouTube, current law allows rights holders to notify the website to remove the illegal content.

I'm sure Smith wants to believe this is true. But, it's not. It's proven false by the fact that Viacom is already suing YouTube for a billion dollars. If SOPA had been in place in 2007, you can bet that Viacom would have used the provisions in SOPA to kill off all YouTube revenue first, rather than filing DMCAs and then suing. Viacom clearly believes that YouTube is (or at least was) "dedicated to illegal activity." And since Smith's own bill allows for this private right of action, it doesn't matter whether he really believes it will be used this way or not... all we need to know is how companies will use it, and we've got a long history under the DMCA to see that tools like this will absolutely be abused to shut down competitors and innovative threats.

The Stop Online Piracy Act is a constitutional bill that protects free speech and America's intellectual property. The First Amendment is not an excuse for illegal activity. Simply because the illegal activity occurs online does not mean that it is protected speech. Like online piracy, child pornography is a billion-dollar business operated online. It is also illegal. That's why law enforcement officials are authorized to block access to child-porn sites.And this paragraph is the most problematic of all. First of all, we won't know if it's really "constitutional" until a court determines that. Many constitutional scholars have their doubts. Second, no one claimed that the First Amendment is an excuse for illegal activity. As we explained above, the issue is the collateral damage. Put forth a bill that narrowly focuses on actually infringing works, and this isn't a problem. Here, however, it's much broader. And, again, even the one constitutional lawyer defending SOPA (as part of his work for the MPAA), has admitted that, contrary to Smith's own claims, SOPA "may result in the blockage of some protected speech." Pretending this is an impossibility even when your most ardent supporter admits it... is weak. 

But the bigger problem is bringing child porn into this. Smith claims that "law enforcement officials are authorized to block access to child-porn sites." That struck me as an odd statement, because the lawsuit I remember concerning that issue actually said that such a clause in a bill violated both the First Amendment and the Commerce clause. This left me scratching my head, so I emailed a bunch of internet lawyers... and no one was aware of any laws that said law enforcement could just block access to child porn sites. There could be criminal trials that lead to sites getting taken down, but no one knew of legal process that allowed requiring others to block access. 

Is there a secret law? Is Lamar Smith making things up? 

More to the point, copyright infringement and child porn are very differentcrimes. Child porn is a felony. Copyright infringement, in most cases, is a civil offense. Yes, in some cases it can be criminal, but SOPA doesn't just apply to criminal infringement. Punishment for the two should be quite different.

Similarly, this bill authorizes the attorney general to seek an injunction against a foreign website that is dedicated to illegal and infringing activity. The attorney general must go to a federal judge and lay out the case against the site. If the judge agrees, a court order will be issued that authorizes the Justice Department to request that the site be blocked.Notice what Smith conveniently leaves out: in many cases under the bill (not all), they will go before a judge without the other side appearing.
According to estimates, IP theft costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs.And according to analysis by the US Government Accountability Office, those estimates are complete bunk.

Congress cannot stand by and do nothing while some of America's most profitable and productive industries are under attack.The industries aren't under attack. The business models of a few legacy players are under attack. Let's be clear: there is more content (music, movies, books, video games, etc.) being produced today than ever before. There is more money flowing into these industries as a whole. People continue to spend and purchase these goods all the time. The attack is merely on a gatekeeper business model that focuses on trying to set up artificial scarcity.

Unfortunately, there are some critics of this legislation who are not serious about helping to protect America's intellectual property. That's because they've made large profits by working with and promoting rogue sites to U.S. consumers.

That claim keeps coming up without any evidence at all. It's hard to believe Google profits much at all from infringement. Almost no one is clicking on Google ads on these websites, and Google only makes money if people click. 

Google recently paid a half billion dollars to settle a criminal case because of the search-engine giant's active promotion of rogue foreign pharmacies that sold counterfeit and illegal drugs to U.S. patients.Totally misleading and irrelevant. That was a case of sites directly advertising via Google. No one has claimed that any of the rogue sites targeted by SOPA are buying ads on Google. This is nothing more the mud-flinging against one company (of many) that are against this bill.

How Copyright Lobbyists Are Making The Child Porn Problem Worse

How Copyright Lobbyists Are Making The Child Porn Problem Worse....... by Mike Masnick

from the sweeping-things-under-the-rug dept
Over the years, we've noted that the entertainment industry has gleefully tried to link "child porn" to internet filters, in an attempt to make it easier to force censorship around the globe on the woefully stupid theory that this will somehow reduce infringement. At times they're completely upfront about this, admitting that "child pornography is great!" because it gets politicians to do what they want. Rick Falkvinge has another such story of an industry exec enthusiastically embracing child porn on the belief that hyping up child porn will help get their filtering/censorship plans through. The article does a nice job highlighting similar stories around the globe. 

But the key point is all the way at the end of the article. All of these attempts to link filtering to child porn doesn't help stop the problem of child porn. In fact, it makes it worse. Falkvinge quotes a group that helps victims of child porn:
But more emotionally, we turn to a German group named Mogis. It is a support group for adult people who were abused as children, and is the only one of its kind. They are very outspoken and adamant on the issue of censoring child pornography.

Censorship hides the problem and causes more children to be abused, they say. Don't close your eyes, but see reality and act on it. As hard as it is to force oneself to be confronted emotionally with this statement, it is rationally understandable that a problem can't be addressed by hiding it. One of their slogans is, 'Crimes should be punished and not hidden'.

This puts the copyright industry's efforts in perspective. In this context theydon't care in the slightest about children, only about their control over distribution channels. If you ever thought you knew cynical, this takes it to a whole new level.

The conclusion is as unpleasant as it is inevitable. The copyright industry lobby is actively trying to hide egregious crimes against children, obviously not because they care about the children, but because the resulting censorship mechanism can be a benefit to their business if they manage to broaden the censorship in the next stage. All this in defense of their lucrative monopoly that starves the public of culture. We've made this point before about those who try to censor based on child porn claims. Like most folks, I find child porn to be a horrific and dangerous issue.  But the way to deal with it isn't through censorship and filters. It's to go after those who are actually responsible for the stuff.  It's to track down and prosecute those who are creating and distributing the stuff. Putting up filters for censorship doesn't stop those who are creating and distributing. It just drives them further underground. If anything, it actually makes it more difficult for law enforcement to track them down and stop them. 

But, thanks to copyright industry efforts, that's what we're getting. And for what? So that they can get ISPs to start putting in filters in a weak and unworkable attempt to stop infringement. It's really quite sickening that some in the copyright industry would go this far, but when you see just how often copyright lobbyists bring up child porn, and advocate for filters, it's hard not to be disgusted at the lows to which they'll stoop in their quixotic battle, where the end result is actually to make life worse for the victims of child pornography.