California Representative Howard Berman, whose Congressional district is near Hollywood, claims the PRO-IP Act is on track to be enacted by the end of this year. In addition to his prognosis, Berman notes, “I don’t think there’s a lot of controversy.” No more than the 1765 Stamp Act, surely.
First among the greatest flaws in this legislation is the lack of due process (do you see a theme in this Congress?) by using civil asset forfeiture for alleged infringement.
Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge have opposed the Pro-IP Act, saying it makes little sense to seize a family computer allegedly used to download music on a peer-to-peer network and that the legislation amounts to protecting the entertainment industry’s business model at the expense of technology.
“There are people who want to steal intellectual property,” Berman said, in an apparent criticism of EFF and Public Knowledge. “Their lobby is distributed, diffuse, but unfortunately very popular.”
Berman dismissed the Justice Department’s criticism of Pro-IP–the agency believes the current arrangement for criminal enforcement works fine–as merely protecting political turf. “They don’t like Congress telling them how to organize their branch, but that’s our right,” Berman said. “They take the notion of executive privilege very seriously.”
To my knowledge, neither the Electronic Frontier Foundation nor Public Knowledge advocates stealing intellectual property. Berman’s lack of understanding of the stakeholders in this legislation is stunning, and his flawed view and inarticulate legislation amount to using a size 9 hacksaw instead of a scalpel. Not surprisingly, his largest campaign contributors come from the entertainment industry (according to campaign records available from opensecrets.org).
Congress’s lack of knowledge on anything technology-related is profound–and it’s going to condemn this country to the backwaters of progress in favor of corporate control.
In addition to his carefree comments on the PRO-IP Act, Berman was observed joking that he’d support using military force against countries that do not share US corporate interests on IP.
I think I predicted this craziness before:
If this lunacy passes Congress, it may only be a matter of time before we send troops to invade another country in hopes of finding weapons of mass infringement.
Yeah, we’re all laughing, Congressman. Yuck-yuck.