Lawrence Lessig has written Free Culture, as well as other books regarding the internet, ideas, and so forth. He is also the ‘father’ of the Creative Commons movement. Recently he answered an email regarding copyright from Philipp Lenssen of Google Blogoscoped. First of all, I am glad someone of his status and of his knowing is tackling such an untackled subject as this. Yet even though I agree with a great deal of the things that he states in his response there are some things that I don’t agree with that should be looked at more closely.
To begin with lets start with his response when asked: “Current laws aside, what forms of copying/republishing/making derivative works do you think are clearly immoral or harmful to society–and which do you think are moral?” Which was, “I think, with important exceptions, breaking the law is immoral, even if the law itself should be changed. So I think the law governing copyright should change, but I don’t support p2p file sharing under the current state of the law.” There is something troubling with , “…breaking the law is immoral, even if the law itself should be changed.” Why, if we go with his opinion, things such as civil liberties for those of other races gained through civil disobedience would have not been gained. Yes, there was a law but had it not been broken there would have been no change of it. Nevertheless I must remember that these are opinions and I do respect them. Also he does go on to state civil disobedience as an exception. Another thing he was asked about is, is “…DRM always evil?” I say yes , it always evil. Yet another question brought to question the legality of breaking DRM when trying to gain ‘fair use’. He replies to the query, “Not according to the DMCA, but it should be…”
Who cares about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)? Really? If people were to go by that thing there would be a bunch of iPod users, PSP users, Computer Users, MP3 player users, and anybody else with digital audio files or for that matter any digital file that people would be in violation of Chapter 12, Section 1201: 1a, 2, and 3b at least.
According to Chapter 12, Section 1203: c, they would be liable for either–the actual damages and any additional profits under paragraph 2 or statutory damages under paragraph 3. Under paragraph 2 of Section 1203 actual damages would mean, the actual damages suffered by the party as a result of the violation, and any profits that are attributable to the violation and are not taken into account with the actual damages. Under paragraph 3 of Section 1203 statutory damages would mean a sum of not less than $200 or more than $2,500 per act of circumvention, device, product, component, offer, or performance of service, as the court considers just. Also in paragraph 4 of section of 1203 repeated violations within 3 years of the original sentencing would triple the amount of damages due. Yet in paragraph 5 of section 1203 we see that innocent violations the court “may reduce or remit the total award of damages in any case” if the person “was not aware and had no reason to believe that its acts constituted a violation.” Then under Chapter 12, Section 1204: a, any person violating sections 1201 or 1202 “willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain (which could be interpreted as saving money as well)–shall be fined not more than $500,000 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both, for the first offense; and shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both, for any subsequent offense”. Finally we come to Section 1205 of Chapter 12 which states: “Nothing in this chapter abrogates, diminishes, or weakens the provisions of, nor provides any defense or element of mitigation in a criminal prosecution or civil action under, any Federal or State law that prevents the violation of the privacy of an individual in connection with the individual’s use of the Internet.”
“So what?!” You may ask me. I’ll tell you what. No one cares about the DMCA–and certainly not the RIAA or the MPAA for they completely disregard sections 1203, 1204 and 1205. In particular they disregard 2 sections repeatedly over and over again, 1203 and 1205. They freakin’ sue people for amounts at the disrection of their desires and not according to the ruling of a judge who would state liablity for either–the actual damages and any additional profits under paragraph 2 or statutory damages under paragraph 3. The RIAA and the MPAA get mad when a judge doesn’t award them anything, throws out the case, or reduces their awarding damages. They go on to demand something, demand more, or don’t give a crap about a judge’s discretion of his decision in a case. When paragraph 5 of section 1203, we see that innocent violations the court “may reduce or remit the total award of damages in any case” if the person “was not aware and had no reason to believe that its acts constituted a violation.”
“Oh but they violated the DMCA…,” they’ll say. Yeah, well, they violated paragraphs: c, 2, 3, and 5 of section 1203 and section 1205 of the DMCA and disregard section 1204. You don’t see the RIAA and the MPAA complaining about that breaking of the law though. So if they violate sections of the DMCA it’s all right then. But when it comes down to one of us that does it…it’s the end of the world, the collapse of the music industry, and the reason of decreased sale of CDs.
Then there’s the one that really gets me. Their freakin’ violation of section Chapter 12, Section 1205 of the DMCA which states: “Nothing in this chapter abrogates, diminishes, or weakens the provisions of, nor provides any defense or element of mitigation in a criminal prosecution or civil action under, any Federal or State law that prevents the violation of the privacy of an individual in connection with the individual’s use of the Internet.”
Someone go freakin’ shout in the ears of the freakin’ morons that are heads of the MPAA and the RIAA and their members: Buena Vista (Walt Disney Company), Sony Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures (Viacom), Twentieth Century Fox (News Corp.), Universal Studios (NBC Universal), and Warner Bros. Pictures (Time Warner); and EMI, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group that Chapter 12, Section 1205 of the DMCA, which they use as reason to sue people, of which they violate two sections and disregard one section, clearly states, that: Nothing in this chapter abrogates (To abolish, do away with, or annul, especially by authority); diminishes (To make smaller or less or to cause to appear so); weakens (To make or become weak or weaker); the provisions of, nor provides (To furnish; supply) any defense (The act of defending against attack, danger or injury); or element (fundamental, essential, or irreducible constituent of a composite entity); of mitigation (To moderate [a quality or condition] in force or intensity; alleviate); in a criminal prosecution or civil action under, any (One, some, every, or all without specification) Federal or State law (A rule of conduct or procedure established by custom, agreement, or authority); that prevents (To keep from happening); the violation (The act or an instance of violating or the condition of being violated); of the privacy (The quality or condition of being secluded from the presence or view of others) of an individual (Of or relating to an individual, especially a single human; By or for one person); in connection (The act of connecting; The state of being connected); with the individual’s use (To put into service or apply for a purpose; employ); of the Internet.” So the DMCA does not give the right to violate anybody’s privacy in connection with your use of the internet just because they are in a criminal prosecution or civil action.
Answer me then…why is that then–that the RIAA and the MPAA continue…consistently to violate not only an individual’s privacy–but many individual’s privacy? Not only in a criminal prosecution or civil action but to also to begin a criminal prosecution or civil action as well?
Why? Because they themselves; these two trade groups…these public relations organizations founded and funded by corporations have absolutely no regard for the law, their purpose, or the means that they use to promote the very corporations that fund them.
So first: RIAA go back to administrating and distributing of music licenses and royalties and certifying gold and platinum albums and singles in the USA because you can’t even do that right. MPAA go back to rating movies with your shambled film rating system because you suck at that. Stop deceiveing yourself that your purpose also includes to protect member interests through political lobbying for changes in copyright and criminal law and to promote digital rights management technologies because you can’t even make all that into an acronym…much less know what that means. Second of all stop trying to act or pose like you’re a government entity…because you’re not. That’s aganist the law and that’ll be one of many laws that you have broken and will break. Thirdly because you can’t do anything else correctly if you’re doing all this suing and in court.
No wonder everybody had to go hire a composer for the background music of recent films. You were to busy suing and more time in court then you were in the office giving out licenses. No wonder everybody got shocked in the theaters and no, they weren’t watching a horror film. It was due to the fact that you rated it with your shambled film rating system, which led to an increase of people not going to the movies due to the flawed ratings.
This is then the end of my issues with copyright issues.