Wednesday, March 16, 2011

White House and Big Corporations Want to Destroy the Internet as We Know It.

Until very recently, most of us could only passively consume our media. We could listen. We could watch. But we couldn’t touch, enter into, or even respond to the media. The Internet has changed all of that, leveling the playing field in such a way that anyone with a connection can participate. The powers that be are not happy.

The other day, Sen. Al Franken claimed that big corporations are "hoping to destroy" the Internet, by destroying "the very thing that makes it such an important [medium] for independent artists and entrepreneurs: its openness and freedom." He then claimed, "Net neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time."

However, it appears the Obama administration wants to crackdown on the Internet, and eliminate this new emergent participatory media production that depends on "fair use", by policing the Internet, making copyright infringement a felony.  He wants to tighten many forms of intellectual property law, increase existing criminal penalties, and expand wiretap laws to include copyright and trademark infringement, ultimately giving even more authority to Homeland Security.   He has proposed sweeping revisions to U.S. copyright law, including making "illegal streaming" of audio or video a federal felony and allowing FBI agents to wiretap suspects.

Turning to the specific recommendations, the Administration recommends increasing the statutory maxima for the following offenses:

1. Increase the statutory maximum for economic espionage (18 U.S.C. § 1831) from 15 years in prison to at least 20 years in prison.

2. Increase the statutory maxima for drug offenses under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), particularly for counterfeit drug offenses.

The Administration recommends that Congress: (1)  direct the U.S. Sentencing Commission to increase the U.S. Sentencing Guideline range for intellectual property offenses; (2) require the U.S. Sentencing Commission to consider five specific categories of changes to the Guidelines; and (3) require the U.S. Sentencing Commission to act within 180 days of such legislation being adopted (including issuing a report explaining why it has not adopted any of the specific recommendations). The five categories of specific recommendations for the U.S. Sentencing Commission are:
1. Increase the U.S. Sentencing Guideline range for the theft of trade secrets and economic espionage,
including trade secrets transferred or attempted to be transferred outside of the U.S.

2. Increase the U.S. Sentencing Guideline range for trademark and copyright offenses when infringing products are knowingly sold for use in national defense, national security, critical infrastructure, or by law enforcement.

3. Increase the U.S. Sentencing Guideline range for intellectual property offenses committed by organized criminal enterprises/gangs;

4. Increase the U.S. Sentencing Guideline range for intellectual property offenses that risk death or serious bodily injury and for those offenses involving counterfeit drugs (even when those offenses do not present that risk); and

5. Increase the U.S. Sentencing Guideline range for repeat intellectual property offenders.
The Administration recommends three legislative changes to give enforcement agencies the tools they need to combat infringement:

1. Clarify that, in appropriate circumstances, infringement by streaming, or by means of other similar new technology, is a felony;

2. Authorize DHS, and its component U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to share pre-seizure information about, and samples of, products and devices with rightholders to help DHS to determine whether the products are infringing or the devices are circumvention devices; and

3. Give law enforcement authority to seek a wiretap for criminal copyright and trademark offenses.
The Administration recommends two legislative changes to allow DHS to share information about enforcement activities with rightholders:

1. Give DHS authority to notify rightholders that infringing goods have been excluded or seized pursuant to a U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) order; and

2. Give DHS authority to share information about, and samples of, circumvention devices with rightholders post-seizure.

The Administration recommends six legislative changes to improve U.S. enforcement efforts involving pharmaceuticals, including counterfeit drugs:

1. Require importers and manufacturers to notify the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other relevant agencies when they discover counterfeit drugs or medical devices, including the known potential health risks associated with those products;

2. Extend the Ryan Haight Act’s definition of “valid prescription” (and its telemedicine exemption) to the FFDCA to drugs that do not contain controlled substances;

3. Adopt a track-and-trace system for pharmaceuticals and related products;

4. Provide for civil and criminal forfeiture under the FFDCA, particularly for counterfeit drug offenses;

5. As noted above, increase the statutory maxima for drug offenses under the FFDCA, particularly for counterfeit drug offenses; and

6. As noted above, recommend that the U.S. Sentencing Commission increase the U.S. Sentencing Guideline range for intellectual property offenses that risk death and serious bodily injury, and for those offenses involving counterfeit drugs (even when those offenses do not present that risk).
What's more is that with all of the important unresolved issues, not to mention, the banksters and  major Wall Street criminals basking in their billions and still in charge, you have to wonder why the Obama administration chooses to focus, in comparison, on what seems like such a trivial matter.  Well, one can only conclude that it's much more than that. It's an underhanded power grab, to control the distribution of information, communication, ultimately providing Big Brother with the power to wiretap anyone for any reason.

It all boils down to who benefits and who pays.   As always, it's the elite who benefit the most - the prison industrial complex, big corporations, Hollywood, the banksters - while we, the taxpayers, continue to pay through the nose. As someone once said, "who gets prosecuted for what has always been and always will be political and decided by those with wealth and power".

1 comments:

Anonymous,  20:51  

Doesn't Obama have better things to do than worry about youtube and such? I don't get this man. He was supposed to restore the Constitution, not throw us all under the bus.

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