Musical Discord Abounds

When one thinks about music in the context of politics the following things come to mind: artists who are in love with Obama and those that send cease and desist letters to candidates they don’t like (in spite of their payment of royalties through blanket agreements). The differing playlists of Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney may come to mind as well.

Now, who do you think uttered these words “We can rip apart the socialists and all their damn taxes” or these “The reason why every day is not a holiday is because the government they steal your pay. It’s a dream but it’s already over.”? That’s got to be some Tea Party jingle band. No, it’s not. The first one was from Passion Pit’s song Take A Walk and the second was from Slightly Stoopid’s Top of The World, 2 songs that often play on the radio alongside bands that back Occupy.

This alone should show us that the logical concepts of limited government and limited taxation have finally reached the depths of liberal entrenchment. If the one group of people who tend to be the most liberal are now publicly opposing the philosophies of liberalism then I have no doubt that we are winning the war. Now I may be completely wrong. These guys may not really be conservatives, but this is still a sign of good things to come.

But there is an anti-freedom voice from the music industry that can really hurt us. Remember SOPA, the internet kill switch bill? It might be making a comeback with the Trans Pacific Partnership. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the treaty would eliminate the fair use exception to copyright law (which allows educational and critique use of copyrighted material without a license) and forces carriers to shut off internet access for those who allegedly have infringed copyrights. The treaty would also force carriers to block access to websites that may be infringing on copyrights. To the best of my knowledge, there would be no trial of right of appeal prior to the censorship. Furthermore, unlike most laws, treaties are not subject to the constitution and thus are the law of the land upon ratification regardless of content.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, I believe copyright owners should be able to protect their interests, but pre-emptive censorship does not help anybody, the entertainment business included. If I was part of the organization making these rules, this is what I would propose. First off, carriers should not knowingly participate in copyright infringement. Period. Anyone who knowingly infringes copyrights should pay penalties. This being said, they should not be in the copyright policing business. The right solution is to allow for copyright citations that work just like traffic tickets. Here’s how it works: the copyright owner finds the infringement, contacts the carrier, who is obligated to either mail a notice of infringement provided by the owner (the carrier is allowed to charge a nominal fee to recoup costs) or provide the address of their customer or their registered agent (businesses use registered agents so they don’t get embarrassed by being served with legal papers in front of customers, any internet user, business or individual may use a registered agent for their notices as long as it is on file with their internet provider). The notice is a paper filed with the copyright court that would be established in the judicial district where the alleged infringer lives or does business, it has instructions to schedule a trial date or pay a bail amount, just like a traffic fine. The amount is set by the person alleging infringement but if the amount exceeds $10,000 (small claims limit), the case will be transferred to a regular court and the person must be served under standard rules. If one chooses to pay the bail amount, they must sign a form saying that they have ceased infringement and they must either provide evidence of such or a statement (under oath) explaining the method used to stop the infringement (ie. uninstalling software, deleting a file etc.)

The copyright court would be a court that has an expedited process for small copyright claims along with virtual appearance options, making the cost significantly lower than regular court. Just like your driver’s license with traffic tickets, if you keep on infringing on copyrights (as proven by the court or by your own admission), your Internet access may be ordered suspended. But this can only be done by a judge or jury, not just based upon complaints.

But what about offshore sites? We’ve got those handled too. They would receive a notice through their US peering carrier (the one that carries information from overseas to your ISP) and repetitive infringement and/or non-appearances in court mean service suspensions for them. An important thing to note is that a lot of infringement occurs on peer to peer file sharing sites and the people that post the files on these sites may be in the US. By going after the ones posting the content you could essentially get rid of these sites.

Everybody’s happy. Freedom advocates know their rights are protected by due process and the performers get compensated for any damages they encounter. I think that this solution should be put on the table as a middle ground during negotiations about copyright law.

Now if only Tom Morello would realize that the government is the machine he really is looking to rage against.

Copyright 2012 Greyson C. Peltier

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2 Responses to Musical Discord Abounds

  1. Pingback: Greyson Peltier: Musical Discord Abounds | TeaPartyUniversity.Org

  2. Pingback: Punk Band Prophets of Rage Furthers Anti-Political Message | Greyson Peltier's The Greyson Nation Blog

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