Wolves in Sheeps Clothing Criminalizing All Who Oppose Them But for He Who Brings the $unlight: The Troubled, $trange, Fearful, Frightened World of Gary $hapiro, the Diogenese of Anti-Copyright Lobbyists

[Editor Charlie sez: This post orginally appeared on December 15, 2011 and in light of Gary Shapiro’s recent  editorial–still looking for that copyright law that passes the CEA purity test–we thought it might be time for a reprise.  See also David Israelite’s excellent op ed responding to Shapiro.  Yes, like Diogenes, Gary Shapiro wanders the earth in search of “reform” he can support.  To paraphrase Saul Alinsky, when they stop asking for reform, you’ll know they finally have the bullets.]

We are reviewing the public statements of the lobbyist Gary Shapiro, a leading voice in the anti-copyright lobbying crowd for over a decade.  Why?  Because his speeches have a Groundhog Day aspect making me think “I swear I’ve heard this before.”  And it turns out that I have.  Many of the same phrases keep showing up in his public language, and not just once or twice–but for a decade.

Here’s a little sampling of the world that Gary Shapiro lives in–yes, a troubled, strange, fearful, frightened world where “Hollywood” (whoever that is) runs free and good men die like dogs.  Good men who would support protecting artist human rights if they could just find the right bill but no one ever seems to present the magical legislation.

But he would support it if he could ever find it.  He is like the Diogenese of the anti-copyright lobbyists, searching for an honest copyright bill but never finding it in a scary, frightening, evil world dominated by the creators whom he fights daily.

Here’s a sample, more to come:

“[Rep. Howard] Coble’s legislation [the DMCA] also would ban the manufacture or marketing of devices or services meant to circumvent copyright protection. This has alarmed electronics makers, who say home-entertainment products such as VCRs could fall under the ban.

Frankly, this scares us to death,” Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, told Congress.

The legislation would make on-line service providers liable in some instances for intellectual property stolen on the Internet. That provision upsets many telephone companies, which provide Internet access, and America Online, the nation’s largest on-line service.

Industry officials assert that copyright infringement costs them $20 billion a year in lost revenue. Until the problem is resolved, they say, the global electronic network will never reach its full commercial potential.

Some theft probably is due more to ignorance than criminal intent. With much of the World Wide Web accessible for free, many people assume material is there for the taking, but a significant portion is under copyright.

Future piracy will dwarf what’s happening if strong measures aren’t adopted soon, copyright owners say. “The Internet will be the crucial link in the pirate operations of tomorrow,” Valenti said in recent congressional testimony.”

Copyrights on the Web Gone With a Click, Chicago Sun Times, Oct. 6, 1997

And then there’s this testimony:

“Last week the motion picture industry announced that is forming a central laboratory, reporting directly to the CEOs of the major motion picture companies: “MovieLabs.” We fear that its purpose is to control technology via licensing, so only “approved” approaches can be tried. Gathering decision-making and licensing in industry consortia owned and controlled only by content proprietors can be, and perhaps is meant to be, a powerful weapon in the wake of Grokster. Proprietors do not need additional weapons at this time.”

Testimony of Gary Shapiro, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, September 28, 2005

Is this starting to sound familiar?

Certainly, creative work must be encouraged and original ideas protected. [Certainly, absolutely.  Obviously.  Exactly.] But this idea must be balanced with the need – and right – to promote broad public access to copyrighted works and to allow for technological innovation.

“It is simply unfair that companies who made their fortune taking works in the public domain and reformatting them for new technology are now preventing others from following the same business model. Congress took from the public and gave to Disney. And while most Justices recognized this was horrible public policy they also chose to find it Constitutional.

Gary Shapiro, on the Lessig defeat in Eldred.  January 15, 2003.

“Surely when it passed the DMCA, Congress did not envision that the Act’s subpoena provision would be used against home Internet users. Consumers should not live in fear that their ISP will be required to turn over their identity to any copyright holder simply because someone claims you’re doing something illegal.

“Instead of criminalizing its customers the RIAA and the recording industry should focus on developing easy, consumer-friendly business models that leverage the benefits of technology. At the same time Congress and the courts must acknowledge and reinforce the crucial distinction between illegal infringement and authorized fair use.”

Gary Shapiro, 2/4/2003.

“CEA strongly opposes the state piracy laws being promoted by MPAA. If enacted, these measures would have a profound and destructive impact on consumers’ rights to use lawfully acquired content for noncommercial purposes. The proposed laws also would outlaw the manufacturing and use of many existing consumer electronics products and hinder future technological developments.

“These bills are wolves in sheep’s clothing. While Hollywood claims they only impact cable piracy, they are so broad and vague as to criminalize legal products and consumer uses. In essence, these bills replicate the restrictions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) without including any of the DMCA’s protections for consumers.

“It’s clear that Hollywood’s new strategy is to sneak around Congress and go to state legislatures, hoping to gain the anti-consumer restrictions that they have been repeatedly denied on the federal level. We call on the states to stand up for consumers by rejecting these bills, and for Congress to reassert its rightful jurisdiction over consumer fair use issues.”

Gary Shapiro, 4/2/2003

“Friday’s decision [at the trial court in the Grokster case] is a landmark day in the ongoing effort to balance the need to protect copyright with manufacturers’ right to innovate in the digital age. This decision reaffirms a fundamental principle as set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Betamax case: a technology is legal if it is capable of substantial non-infringing uses.

The District Court was correct in ruling that the file-sharing services in question have legitimate uses and that these services, in and of themselves, are not responsible for any possible copyright infringement by their users. The decision is a critical piece of the puzzle in developing a new approach to intellectual property issues in the digital age.

Our industry depends on strong intellectual property protection, and we do not condone piracy or infringement. However, the Court’s decision correctly focuses not on consumer behavior, but on technology and innovation. Innovation helps the U.S. economy and consumers. Opponents should carry a heavy burden to show that a new technology is illegal. Technology developers should be able to create innovative, exciting new technologies without fear of copyright liability.

We will continue to work with the Congress and all interested parties to find a balanced approach to protect copyrights and maintain a legal environment that allows for technological innovation.”

Gary Shapiro 4/28/2003

“This [state law anti piracy] legislation would subject consumers and consumer electronics manufacturers to criminal penalties and fines based on an undefined ‘intent to defraud’ standard subject to case-by-case interpretation and expansion. For example, consumers could potentially be subject to criminal penalties if they attached a TiVo to their broadband connection if their cable agreement specified an exclusive relationship with a different manufacturer. Faced with potential liability under these laws, many retailers would choose not to sell clearly legitimate products.

I applaud those state legislators who have put the brakes on these bills pending further information, justification and explanation of their impact on consumers and manufacturers. All states must stand up for consumers by rejecting these bills and working with Congress and the consumer electronics industry to preserve consumers’ fair use and customary home recording rights in the digital age and to protect the ability of Americans to use the Internet without fear of arbitrary penalties.”

Gary Shapiro, 4/29/2003

“The [Theft of Service] bill also would impose Draconian civil and criminal penalties that are potentially vastly disproportionate to the conduct of the person charged with its violations. Indeed, the inclusion of potentially massive civil liability has not existed in theft of services law prior to MPAA’s model bill. It appears the real intent is to intimidate and sue anyone who makes, sells or uses any product that the MPAA or other content providers do not like or approve of. The impact will be anti-consumer, anti-competitive and anti-innovation.

Having been rightfully denied anti-consumer legislation of this sort by Congress, MPAA has switched tactics in an attempt to convince state legislatures to turn honest consumers, retailers and manufacturers into criminal and civil defendants.

Along with a wide range of consumer, retailer and technology groups, CEA urges state lawmakers to reject this ill-considered legislation in order to protect consumers, technology manufacturers, retailers, and their states’ digital economies.”

Gary Shapiro, 4/30/2003

“Proponents of these bills have tried to paint them as non-controversial, and have claimed that they accommodate consumer electronics concerns and enjoy broad support in the industry,” he said. “Neither is the case. Instead, CEA continues to call on all state legislatures to oppose these overly broad bills and to demonstrate support for consumers, competition and innovation – all of which stand in jeopardy….”

Gary Shapiro, 5/6/2003

CEA stands firmly against piracy and theft of service. However, as Governor Owens made clear, any bill addressing this issue must be narrowly drafted so it does not penalize lawful consumers, manufacturers and retailers.

“While we commend Gov. Owens for his courageous veto, we are troubled that harmful legislation similar to that rejected in Colorado remains pending in many states. Versions of this anti-consumer legislation are under active consideration in Texas and Tennessee, and one has been passed by the Florida legislature.

“The technology community joins retailers and consumer groups in urging lawmakers in these states to follow the lead of Governor Owens and reject this ill-considered legislation.”

Gary Shapiro, 5/22/2003

“Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) Vice President of Technology Policy Michael Petricone issued the following statement regarding the Texas Legislature’s adjournment without acting on the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) -backed Super DMCA bill, SB 1116:

Hollywood has been stymied in its attempt to do a Texas two-step on the backs of consumers. [That’s right, you’re not from Texas.] What was presented to Texas legislators as a communications security bill was recognized for what it was – a misguided and overreaching attempt to prevent consumers from attaching legitimate products to their home networks by the threat of huge criminal and civil penalties. The Texas Legislature is to be commended for rejecting such an anti-consumer, anti-technology proposal.

“In every state where similar legislation has seen the sunlight of open discussion and debate it has been decisively rejected. We are gratified that Texas has joined Colorado, Tennessee and Oregon in choosing not to implement this ill-considered anti-technology bill.

“At the same time, this battle is far from over. This bill is pending in other states, and is on the governor’s desk in Florida. In addition MPAA recently declared that it will continue its push to enact this punitive legislation across the country.

“MPAA’s latest threat is a call to action for every lawful consumer in the nation. We urge all Americans to contact your state and national lawmakers and insist that connecting a lawful product to a broadband network without Hollywood’s permission should not become a criminal act.”

Michael Petricone, 6/5/2003

“The Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC) today expressed concern that S. 1932 (the “ART Act”), introduced by Senators Cornyn (R-TX) and Feinstein (D-CA), is unnecessarily broad in its language and indeterminate in its potential consequences. While aimed at the recording and subsequent uploading of movies as they appear in movie theaters, it could be read to imperil legitimate fair use activity occurring outside the confines of theaters.

HRRC Chairman Gary Shapiro said, “The HRRC has long noted that the purloining of movies during or before theatrical exhibition, rather than consumer uploading, is the main source of new movies on the Internet. Therefore we are not opposed in principle to measures that tighten security in theaters, and in the motion picture industry chain of distribution. However, we are concerned about the breadth of S. 1932’s definitions and key provisions, which could be read to imperil ordinary fair use conduct that may occur well outside such venues and channels.”

Gary Shapiro 11/25/2003

“As currently drafted, the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act of 2004 (S.2560), introduced today, would stifle innovation and jeopardizes critical protections for innovators established in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1984 Betamax ruling, said the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). CEA is urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on the bill so that concerns can be heard and addressed.

The proposed bill adds a new and overly broad copyright cause of action for “intentionally inducing” copyright infringement, said the CEA, and thus could have a crippling effect on the development and introduction of new technologies….This new and separate copyright cause of action is so broad that it would stifle innovation. It essentially would grant copyright owners veto power over the introduction of any new technology for home and personal use.

By establishing this new and vague cause of civil action, it essentially gives content owners another tool in their arsenal to sue legitimate companies over any device, software, home network, programming guide or database drawn from or linked to copyrighted material that they deem objectionable,” continued Shapiro. “This gun hanging over the head of entrepreneurs, large and small, will stifle competition and prevent the introduction of products and technologies we cannot even begin to imagine.”

Gary Shapiro, 6/23/2004

4 thoughts on “Wolves in Sheeps Clothing Criminalizing All Who Oppose Them But for He Who Brings the $unlight: The Troubled, $trange, Fearful, Frightened World of Gary $hapiro, the Diogenese of Anti-Copyright Lobbyists

  1. Interesting catalog of Gary Shapiro’s favorite words. Were your comments censored on his recent blog?

    It is so instructive that SOPA opponents (such as Shapiro, Wyden, Issa) talk about the evils of censorship of “free speech”, and the relative virtues of their OPEN and sunshine, but yet, they censor comments left on their blogs and youtube videos.

    Also, while Gary complains about who might or might not be lobbying for some protection against foreign copyright infringers, it’s useful to remember that his organization includes Amazon and Google.


  2. Chris,

    At least this shows the Romantic nature of Mr. Shapiro… Endlessly on a quest for truth, justice, and the Consumer Electronics Industry way…. Perhaps someday in some alternate Universe he will find that ‘perfect’ piece of anti-piracy legislation that he can support!

    Till then we songwriters wait with baited breath and emptied pockets.


  3. So anyway, I left a question in the comments section of your post “Music Issues in the New Congress: PRO-IP Act “Reform”” about the fact that you wrote there that Andrew McLaughlin was fired and that he did not, as I thought, resign. For some reason, you did not reply to my question there; and you also disabled comments on that and some other posts adjacent (in time) to that post.

    I was just wondering about that.


  4. I don’t recall your previous comment, but I believe he was fired. I’m happy for you to FOIA the White House on the subject. Please let me know what you find out about McLaughlin being asked to resign. As far as comments being disabled, that happens automatically except for reposting of articles such as this one when comments are re-enabled as you have discovered. Not related to you. Also, I can’t seem to tell who you are as your email domain is fake according to my firewall. We don’t allow anonymous comments.


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