Home > Uncategorized > No Money For Old Pirates: Working people unite in support of Sens. Leahy and Hatch on S.3804

No Money For Old Pirates: Working people unite in support of Sens. Leahy and Hatch on S.3804

November 4, 2010

Ellen Seidler’s remarkable videos about her experience with piracy of her independent film, And Then Came Lola, demonstrate incontrovertibly Google’s willful blindness in selling advertising to support piracy. In fact, it seems that the entire Adsense business model is designed to allow Google to profit from theft. (Google isn’t the only one, but since they have a dominant position in online ad sales, it is not surprising that they have their own special version.)

As Seidler told The Register, beyond the obvious wedge issues that the EFF and their fellows want you to focus on (Big Media and Rich Artists vs. Innovation), piracy is a jobs issue for a wide swath of American workers of all descriptions. The big story of 2010 is that the government is finally starting to listen to the unions. In the music business, we see this with the Songwriters Guild of America and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists taking the lead, and that clout includes the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild, and the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees as well as the American Federation of Musicians and the American Association of Independent Music—all of whom opposed the loopholes in the net neutrality proposals from groups like Free Press and Public Knowledge. This led to a strong anti-theft endorsement by the AFL-CIO executive committee.

The reaction? The largely shrill attacks from the anti-artist coalitions aligned with the consumer electronics industry and of course—Google. More drivel about “copyright cops” etc., etc., etc.
The way it works is that Google drives traffic to pirate websites through Google search, and then sells advertising to fund the pirate sites. For example, try the Google “Music Discovery” search. Try searching for “Paramore Ignorance” one of the suggested searches on the Music Discovery landing page. 886,000 hits. The first page of results has some dodgy looking lyric sites, and some legit sources.

Now try “Paramore Ignorance torrents”. 11,400 hits—and what are the sources of the top search results? The Pirate Bay, Isohunt, Kickass Torrents, and so on. All illegal. Not only are the Pirate Bay and Isohunt illegal, the Pirate Bay has been criminally convicted and Isohunt has been adjudicated liable for intentional copyright infringement and will lucky not to have a referral to a US Attorney for criminal prosecution.

Now try “Paramore torrents”. 184,000 hits and at least the first page are all illegal—including the Pirate Bay and Isohunt. (And “Paramore limewire” yields this gem: “i know limewire is bad [lol] but i am a good paramore fan, i buy all the cds i can. ;]”)

Couldn’t Google just filter out “torrents” search results on sites that have been criminally convicted of copyright infringement? How about respecting a Federal court order for Isohunt? Hmmm?Google has no intention of doing anything to stop promoting and funding piracy until they are made to do it. And just who can do that? Indie film makers? Major studios?
No, it takes a country to fight Google. So it should come as no surprise that Senators Leahy and Hatch introduced S. 3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act. And the most important parts of the bill are, of course, the parts that Google and its fellows do not ever discuss—the part where the Attorney General can get a court order to shut down advertising sales to pirate websites and seize those accounts—not just the revenue to the pirate. All the money. Including Google’s share.

Obviously, Google doesn’t like this, but can’t exactly start defending thieves. Openly.

Support for the legislation comes from working people across the country including a couple of sources you would never guess if you listened to the story spun by the EFF and other Googlizers. How about Robert Smith of the Painters & Allied Trades, District Council 36 from Altadena? (Painters & Allied Trades International is a member of the AFL-CIO and the Canadian Labour Council.)

In an open letter to Senators Leahy and Hatch on behalf of his members, Mr. Smith says, quite elegantly:

“While some may think that online piracy only affects the bottom lines of big movie studios the truth is that the men and women who build the sets rig the lights operate the equipment control the sounds and cater the meals are hit the hardest Every time a pirated movie is viewed or downloaded illegally over the Internet we lose royalties from the legitimate sales that provide our livelihoods and fund our health care disability and pension benefits…. For too long protecting the content creators and laborers who make movies possible has taken a back seat to political fights designed to pit Hollywood studios against Internet giants. That is what makes your proposal so important.

This bill is a measured and reasonable approach to protecting intellectual property by giving the Department of Justice and law enforcement officials the 21 St Century tools they need combat these criminal websites Unfortunately ist also not surprising that some in the Internet community who have amassed enormous fortunes trading in content that they neither own nor create have begun a smear campaign against this proposal.

This bill is narrowly tailored to crack down on the worst of the worst online crooks and give law enforcement the ability to go after the heart of online piracy the websites that are little more than free libraries of pirated content products and material.Search engines like Google which controls over 70 of the search market in the US have failed to crack down on these websites and have become virtual shopping malls for these stores of pirated content. As the dominant search engine in the world Google business practices have become the de facto regulatory regime for accessing pirated content online. Their lack of leadership in this area has now made it easy for average users to casually find illegal content with just a few clicks of the mouse These new law enforcement tools are absolutely necessary to combat these digital thieves and those that aid and abet them.

We implore you to push forward with this important piece of legislation and we pledge to work with you your colleagues in the Senate and your counterparts in the House of Representatives to ensure that Members are informed about the importance of this legislation.”

Similar sentiments have been expressed by United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada, as well as the AFTRA/SAG/DGA/IA alliance and the Songwriters Guild.

So it should be very clear that organized labor in the US considers this legislation to be a “must get” to help restore American jobs in the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression. As Attorney General Eric Holder recently said:

“For too long, these illegal activities have been perceived as ‘business as usual.’ But not anymore. As each of you knows, stealing innovative ideas or passing off counterfeits can have devastating consequences for individuals, families, and communities. These crimes threaten economic opportunities and financial stability. They suppress the ingenuity of our people and businesses. They destroy jobs. And they can jeopardize the health and safety of the men and women we are sworn to protect. Intellectual property crimes are not victimless. And we must make certain that they are no longer perceived as risk-free.”

  1. Kat
    November 5, 2010 at 18:22

    Does anyone know how the change in Congress will affect this legislation? We are desperate for this to pass but are now worried — if it couldn't get through the Senate before, will it be even harder now?

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  2. November 6, 2010 at 15:15

    It's pretty early to tell but you should stay in touch with your representatives.

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