Jailbreak a phone, go to jail: Copyright law, the TPP way

Even more examples of ill-informed thinking lurk in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the SOPA/CISPA/PIPA redux

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Trademark police puppets

In light of the TPP, it's instructive to look back at the DMCA and the damage it has wrought. For example, the lawsuits between the Hollywood studios and file-hosting service Hotfile tell you everything you need to know about the DMCA's one-sidedness, not to mention the collusion between the content cartel and government.

TorrentFreak reports that Warner Bros. not only deliberately sent bogus takedown notices under the DMCA to Hotfile -- agreeing under penalty of perjury that it was the rightful owner of the content it asked to be removed -- the studio recently told a court it did not technically lie or violate the law in any way.

[Hotfile] alleged that after giving Warner access to its systems the studio wrongfully took down hundreds of files including demos and Open Source software without holding the copyrights to them. The takedowns continued even after the movie studio was repeatedly notified about the false claims.

While Warner later admitted the accusations, the movie studio argues that they are not to blame because the mistakes were made by a computer, not a person. As a result, the false takedown request were not "deliberate lies."

However, not all false takedowns were unintentional. Warner admitted that one of their employees deleted Open Source software from Hotfile on purpose. Their rationale for this was that the software in question could have speeded up infringing downloads.

Hotfile countersued Warner, noting the bogus takedown notices and accusing it of committing perjury. But as TechDirt's Mike Masnick notes:

On the legal analysis, Warner Bros. may actually be correct here -- but it only serves to highlight how weak and ineffectual the DMCA 512(f) is, in that it's basically impossible to punish anyone who ever takes down legitimate content with a bogus takedown.

There you have it: one set of laws for the copyright cartel, another set for the rest of us. This is what happens when you have a Congress perfectly willing to allow industries to write their laws for it.

Total piracy pinheads

In the case of TPP, U.S. government negotiators -- with, it seems, a sizable amount of input from Hollywood and Big Pharma -- appear to be steering the bus. Or more accurately, they're trying to sneak the bus into the garage before anyone notices.

But now that the treaty's secrets are public, it'll be a much tougher case to make. Susan Sell, professor of political science at George Washington University, writes in the Washington Post:

It appears that the U.S. administration is negotiating for intellectual property provisions that it knows it could not achieve through an open democratic process.... Congress has already expressed displeasure at being shut out of this process. When its members see how provisions that had been defeated in a domestic, democratic, and deliberative process in January 2012 have been included in TPP I suspect that they will not be happy.

If TPP does somehow pass, the rest of us won't be happy either.

Where do you stand on the TPP? Post your non-copyright-infringing thoughts below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Jailbreak a phone, go to jail: Copyright law, the TPP way," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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