I could – and will – go on for days about the obscenely anti-social policy positions pushed by the Recording Industry Association of America(RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). They consistently try to co-opt public resources to force people to participate in their own failing business models. This is mostly done under the public radar, with very little public realization of the rights that they’re losing. This, unsurprisingly, emboldens the RIAA/MPAA to take ever more aggressive and ridiculous positions. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) highlights some of the latest efforts:
We’re not easily shocked by entertainment industry overreaching; unfortunately, it’s par for the course. But we were taken aback by the wish list the industry submitted in response to the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator’s request for comments on the forthcoming “Joint Strategic Plan” for intellectual property enforcement. The comments submitted by various organizations provide a kind of window into how these organizations view both intellectual property and the public interest. For example, EFF and other public interest groups have asked the IPEC totake a balanced approach to intellectual property enforcement, paying close attention to the actual harm caused, the potential unexpected consequences of government intervention, and compelling countervailing priorities.
The joint comment filed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and others stands as a sharp contrast, mapping out a vision of the future where Big Media priorities are woven deep into the Internet, law enforcement, and educational institutions.
Like what? Well, the EFF goes on to quote the MPAA/RIAA filing:
Intimidate and propagandize travelers at the border
Customs authorities should be encouraged to do more to educate the traveling public and entrants into the United States about these issues. In particular, points of entry into the United States are underused venues for educating the public about the threat to our economy (and to public safety) posed by counterfeit and pirate products. Customs forms should be amended to require the disclosure of pirate or counterfeit items being brought into the United States.
Does that iPod in your hand luggage contain copies of songs extracted from friends’ CDs? Is your computer storing movies ripped from DVD (handy for conserving battery life on long trips)? Was that book you bought overseas “licensed” for use in the United States? These are the kinds of questions the industry would like you to answer on your customs form when you cross borders or return home from abroad. What is more, this suggestion also raises the specter of something we’ve heard the entertainment industry suggest before: more searches and seizures of electronic goods at the border. Once border officials are empowered to search every electronic device for “pirated” content, digital privacy will all but disappear, at least for international travelers. From what we’ve learned about the fight over a de minimis border measures search exclusion in the latest leaked text, ACTA might just try to make this a reality.
Remember – there are no Fourth Amendment protections at the US border. Better than even bet that we’ll see this happen. Especially if the public doesn’t pay attention.