We just read the articles: EFF and CDT renew their vows to fight artists

The unions representing hundreds of thousands of working people praised the court-ordered seizure of the domain names of sites engaged in facilitating massive piracy of motion pictures and music. 

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Directors Guild of America, the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees and the Screen Actors Guild said “We strongly support the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in seizing the Web domain names of 82 illegal websites selling counterfeit goods, including the protected works of our members.  Rampant digital theft – including films, television programs and sound recordings – is a threat not only to our members’ livelihood and the entertainment industry, but also to the United States economy…Without action, online theft will continue unabated and grow easier with every click of a mouse.  We believe the operators of these sites know they are in violation of the law, but continue with their illegal websites without regard to the thousands they are hurting financially.”

The issues here seem pretty obvious to those of us lacking in Ivy League educations, but thank goodness we have smarter folk around to explain to us how we are missing the point.

The attraction for the users of these websites is not the thousands of illegal copies of motion pictures, television programs, music videos and sound recordings. 

The attraction to the ad serving companies (a couple of which being owned by guess who?) is not the millions of searches daily for these illegal copies.  (Alan Davidson, formerly Associate Director of the CDT, is now the head of US public policy for one of those adserving companies.) 

The attraction to advertisers is not placing ads in search results for illegal copies distributed through facilitators like the Pirate Bay. Limewire and Isohunt–all of which have been found liable or criminally convicted of copyright infringement.

These are not the important elements of these sites according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology according to reports.  No, no–the EFF and CDT think users go to these sites to read the articles.

“…representatives of the EFF and the Center for Democracy and Technology, two digital rights groups, questioned whether the domain-name seizures are legal. In some cases, the sites shut down had discussion forums that should enjoy free-speech protections under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, said Peter Eckersley, an EFF staff attorney. [But see Sec. V of the Dr. Seuss v. Penguin  infringement case for a discussion of the EFF’s “all or nothing” line of attack.]

Some of the websites had ‘huge amounts of user commentary, virtually millions of posts worth of discussion,’ Eckersley said. “We’ll be looking into that and seeing whether there are any legal steps that can be taken to help these websites.'”

Ah yes.  Discussion.  Of course.  About what, exactly?  Perhaps where to find a better infringing copy of recording X by artist Y?  Torrents of books?  A leaked copy of movie Z?

They don’t go there to look at the movies, they go there to read the articles.

Now where have I heard that excuse before?

Statistically, one could acknowledge that there may be instances where the dog really did eat the homework.  But the probability is very, very low.

And as the EFF meticulously informs its fans, the sites–sorry, the articles–previously located at the seized domains were available at other locations within hours so as to not interrupt a good read.

One thought on “We just read the articles: EFF and CDT renew their vows to fight artists

  1. I may be wrong about this, but isn’t liability decided on the basis of what laws were broken and not on what laws were observed? In other words, if you start selling cigarettes to grade-schoolers, say, it won’t make the slightest difference with regards to the penalties you’ll face that you’re also selling them to middle-aged construction workers.

    As for preserving said precious discussion boards, here’s a revolutionary idea: why not host them elsewhere, minus the pirated content? Better safe than sorry and obviously the article-readers will still show up and drive advertising revenue. Won’t they?


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