November 20th, 2012

My Update Portrait

The Enterprises Strike Back

The American Way Panel

Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana. - Bill Gates

It is no secret that I am a proponent of protected intellectual property (IP). I have posted about the tantrum that internet giants threw to suppress SOPA/PIPA, the legislation to protect IP owners from international interlopers. I also posted about the potential backlash if this proprietary IP wasn’t protected.

[The Enterprise Solution]

The SOPA/PIPA legislation was defeated and its opponents celebrated their success. While the piracy advocates weakly denied their own existence, they claimed violation of rights, intrusion by a tyrannical government and that enforcement would be anywhere from impractical to impossible. These opponents decided that archaic and unwieldy government enforcement techniques and the internet giants themselves should be adequate to resolve the issue. This was all done under cover of protecting internet freedom for the consumer.

Apparently, that was phase 1 of the private enterprise hypocrisy. They are now implementing phase 2 by charging you for bandwidth that they won’t have to deliver. A cartel of internet service providers is putting a plan into action to self-police the internet at the expense of their customers. If a customer is deemed by an intellectual property owner to be violating their copyright ownership, the ISP will issue a series of warnings to the customer and then may throttle their internet bandwidth for a period of time. There is currently no plans to terminate service, but since this is a relatively unregulated utility, that can change that at any time. This will be done without the benefit of redress or any court action whatsoever.

Instead of prosecuting foreign content thieves, the American consumer will be burdened for the infraction whether or not they have done so; intentionally or with any knowledge of unlawful activity. All the same elements that everybody objected to with SOPA/PIPA are still there. A lack of judicial oversight, no opportunity for redress, restriction of internet freedom, no controls in place for erroneous or malicious claims and especially no restriction regarding the business reach of these penalties.

Exchanging a perceived government overlord with an unaccountable free market one is not a satisfactory choice. Things like this are the type of direct consequence that we bring upon ourselves with the imagined evil intentions of an elected government. While we hold the government accountable because we can, allowing ourselves to be manipulated by an unfeeling private industry is self-destructive desperation.


Rendering Unto Caesar: Papal Politics‏

Observers of the American political scene have pointed to a misstep on the part of a Roman cleric in Peoria, Illinois, the town made famous by the expression, "Will it play in Peoria?" The monk, Friar Jenky, has jeopardized the tax exempt status of his organization by overtly campaigning in the most recent election. He distributed a letter to congregants calling for the ouster of the incumbent US President on the grounds of the HHS mandate to cover modern methods of birth control and other treatments for employees of the Roman Church.

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Notice that he claims that promoting the techniques women use to maintain control of our own bodies is a "sin." He does not specify against whom it is a sin, but he does drop the name of a legendary Jewish philosopher who was famous for thumbing his nose at ignorant and despotic religious clerics. Since the edict against the use of modern methods of birth control came from a Roman pontiff, I assume that the sin is a sin against the Roman pontiff rather than against the Jewish philosopher. One might even say that it is a sin against the material Creator or even against Caesar himself. I can think of worse characters to sin against.

Friar Jenky needs to be awakened to a few of the realities of his situation. For one thing, he needs to understand that administering schools and hospitals in the US makes him and his fellow monastics subject to the laws of the US. He is not in a medieval monastery in the Italian mountains anymore. He needs to become aware that there are other sins besides those of his own narrowly educated order. For example, there is the sin of violating laws against political campaigning in tax sheltered venues. Finally, he needs to hear the Good News that the Earth is no longer flat and immobile.

Do you think the IRS should yank the tax exempt status of Friar Jenky's organization? Should Rome be held accountable when its minions wander from the path of respect for local laws?

Links: Esquire's commentary on the monk in question. Think Progress' commentary on the letter. Playing in Peoria.
The Captain's Prop

Publishers As the Ultimate Gateway

I've already mentioned Upton Sinclair's 1934 run for governor of California. Having finished the book on which that post was made, I stumbled across a few facts which reinforce the message of that last post. Recall that Sinclair had inspired the EPIC plan; others later organized around the message EPIC presented and started a daily newsletter, which became quite popular, especially in Los Angeles where it was published. Remember also that, other than Sinclair, incumbent Republican Frank Merriam and a third-party candidate named Haight also ran that year.

According to one tally, 92 percent of California's seven hundred newspapers supported Merriam, 5 percent backed Haight, and the rest were neutral. If any paper besides the EPIC News had declared for Sinclair, no one knew about it. The anti-Sinclair press had a stranglehold on virtually every major city; few papers even acknowledged EPIC activities.

(Greg Mitchell, The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics, Random House, 1992, p. 225, I emphasized.)

I mention this because of the oft-tossed trope that Collapse )