The Patriot Act: How The Air Bud Sequels Became a Matter of National Security

We watched the Matrix in the beginning of class.  How much did you see?  Do you remember the anti-piracy warning before the film began? You know, the one that the DVD won’t let you fast forward.  What was that emblem on top? Was there only one?  If you watched a version on line, or bought a recently released DVD, you likely saw two emblems.  We recognize the IPR and the FBI Anti-Piracy logos but what’s that new one? Homeland Security? Couldn’t be.


Actually, it is.  CNET reports that “The Patriot Act has been invoked in connection with copyright infringement …” which is bringing more and more government agencies into the ever-expanding jurisdiction of major corporations.  These companies are demanding access to all the data being (illegally) collected by the government, and our government is giving it to them.

Lessig worries that “…free resources have been crucial to innovation and creativity…” but it seems that government has lost no source of creativity when it comes to interpreting the law.  The Patriot Act has allowed them to use circumstantial evidence to link terrorism to piracy and open a floodgate of government resources to be handed over to private companies.  The irony is overwhelming.  The government illegally obtains information on the American people just to make sure that the American people are not obtaining information illegally.

 “The music and film industries are demanding that the European parliament extends the scope of proposed anti-terror laws to help them prosecute illegal downloaders. In an open letter to MEPs, companies including Sony BMG, Disney and EMI have asked to be given access to communications data – records of phone calls, emails and internet surfing – in order to take legal action against pirates and filesharers.”

The issue here does not lie in a specific case of copyright infringement, so much as an infringement on the American people to protect said copyright.  This is the greatest legal issue involving copy right infringement on the books today.  This is where the danger lies.  This is wear the threat lies.  This is where the government lies.  Look out.

John Milton was worried the government would be overwhelmed with the amount of work it would take to control and license every word that hit the presses.  Apparently, he didn’t know how big the government would grow or how much help they would get from the rabid army of lawyer these private companies unleash into the general populations.

Now we know now that the government is capable of such licensing, but why would they consent? Why would the government surrender this sensitive information to a handful of private companies?  (not to mention the fact that they provide these same companies with their own private swat teams)  The verge reports:

In the State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama announced a sweeping executive order implementing new national cybersecurity measures, opening the door for intelligence agencies to share more information about suspected “cyber threats” with private companies that oversee the nation’s “critical infrastructure.

In short, because we are America damnit.  It’s for our own good.  If these private companies don’t get every penny their lawyers convince them they deserve, America will fall apart.  We spy on America to protect America.  Apparently, copy and paste would destroy us as a nation.

Lessig has a slightly different explanation.  He argues that these higher state and private powers are “Fueled by a bias in favor of control, pushed by those whose financial interests favor control, our social and political institutions are ratifying changes…that will reestablish control…”  People with power only want one thing.  More power.

How do you get more power? Scare the American people.

Kant writes that “…a sovereign ruler who favors freedom in the arts and sciences…knows that there is no danger..” so why does the government expend so much energy to regulate every piece of art?  What harm is all this copywriting doing?  Why does it warrant such drastic force from the government?  Where is the danger?  What answer does our government give us for these questions?  “Don’t argue, obey.”


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