I railed against the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act asking the question:
Since the MPAA has no compunction about filing their own civil lawsuits against their own customers, it really begs the question why the US Government needs to take over that role. Why taxpayer dollars must be spent.
It seems the Department of Justice is asking the very same question. In a letter sent to Patrick Leahy and Arlene Specter of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the DoJ wrote:
We strongly oppose Title I of the bill, which not only authorizes the Attorney General to pursue civil remedies for copyright infringement, but to secure “restitution” damages and remit them to the private owners of infringed copyrights. First, civil copyright enforcement has always been the responsibility and prerogative of private copyright holders, and U.S. law already provides them with effective legal tools to protect their rights
Second, Title 1′s departure from the settled framework above could result in Department of Justice prosecutors serving as pro bono lawyers for private copyright holders regardless of their resources. In effect, taxpayer-supported Department lawyers would pursue lawsuits for copyright holders, with monetary recovery going to industry.
Third, the Department of Justice has limited resources to dedicate to particular issues, and civil enforcement actions would occur at the expense of criminal actions, which only the Department of Justice may bring. In an era of fiscal responsibility, the resources of the Department of Justice should be used for the public benefit, not on behalf of particular industries that can avail themselves of the existing civil enforcement provisions.
I really could not have said it better.
1. Media companies already have a civil method to pursue restitution and we all know they aren’t shy about using it.
2. The DoJ isn’t there to be free lawyers for the RIAA and MPAA
3. And isn’t their time better spent elsewhere?
Keith Nelson, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, US Department of Justice and Lilly Fu Claffee, General Counsel, US Department of Commerce get my vote for civil servants of the month award.
The sad, unfortunate truth? Leahy and Specter don’t give a crap. Who cares if the bill is bad, makes the Department of Justice a free bitch to the RIAA’s whims and wastes valuable resources without actually benefiting Americans? They want the bill anyway. Some piss poor “study” will show the revenue and jobs lost from piracy and give Leahy and Specter some imaginary economic high ground.
I already ripped into the crap about $20 billion lost to DVD piracy. Any sensible person would see that eliminating piracy won’t create a single American job. But they don’t.. They don’t care that the DoJ doesn’t want to be the copyright cops just to generate revenue for big media. Leahy and Specter will hide behind an MPAA/RIAA study and push this sucker through. This bill will pass.
And the big irony is, the media companies who believe it will help will just continue to screw themselves. By relying on enforcement, whether it be their own pit bulls or their newly purchased DoJ pro bono guns, they’re still focused on the wrong things.
They could listen to consumers — see Electronic Arts and their 180 degree turn on Spore — or big media can continue to shoot at their own customers. The companies who listen instead, who care, who try and give consumers what they want, those will survive and thrive. The others are just spending more time and resources chasing a rabbit down a hole.