RIAA Chief Hits New Heights of Hypocrisy in Pro-SOPA NYT Op-Ed

Censorship isn't censorship when RIAA does it

Arguing that SOPA and PIPA don't require ISPs, site owners or anyone else to monitor content and police it on behalf of RIAA – which Sherman does – ignores the portion of those acts that criminalize even accidental copyright infringements and give law enforcement permission (and sometimes a requirement) to shut down whole sites for contributing to the pirating of even one piece of content.

Both acts also leave undefined what constitutes illegal content, though both required law enforcement agencies to take action based on complaints from alleged copyright holders, with no proof they own the copyright or that the "pirate" has violated them.

That constitutes not only censorship, but illegal search and seizure, conviction without trial and reversal of the assumption of innocence that is the basic tenet of our legal system.

Sherman also managed to add more confusion to the issue of what problems SOPA or PIPA were designed to address with a totally irrelevant comparison between the rush of outrage over the bills from netizens who understand their rights and the misleading inclusion in both bills of rules about the import of counterfeit physical goods as well as the misuse of copyrighted content.

"Sure, anybody could click on a link or tweet in outrage — but how many [among SOPA opponents] knew what they were supporting or opposing? Would they have cast their clicks if they knew they were supporting foreign criminals selling counterfeit pharmaceuticals to Americans? Was it SOPA they were opposed to, or censorship?"

Yes, both bills mentioned foreign companies making counterfeit pharmaceuticals, a product category that does pose a serious health risk because there are no controls over what might be in them.

Both focused almost entirely on digital content, the protection of digital copyrights and the ways law enforcement agencies, courts, Internet providers, content providers, consumers and everyone else could be co-opted or indicted to help RIAA defend its revenue and godlike view of its own position and power.

Trying to change the subject mid-stream and warn that not supporting SOPA would doom thousands to be victims of fake pharmaceuticals is the ultimate in cynical misdirection and misinformation – exactly the charges Sherman laid against opponents of SOPA and supporters of the civil rights they violated.

Sherman declared both SOPA and PIPA, essentially, dead, writing that "we need to take a step back to seek fresh ideas and new approaches" to keeping people from listening to music without paying him for the privilege.

"We all share the goal of a safe and legal Internet," he wrote in closing. "We need reason, not rhetoric, in discussing how to achieve it."

Yes we do. We also need partisans willing to tell the truth about their own positions once in a while, and maybe apologize for trying to sue dead grandmothers to scare customers into obeying arbitrary rules, exploitive policies and extortionist pricing rather than try to find entertainment they like on their own terms from less abusive, less unreasonable sources.

The increases in sales of digital music prove that doesn't only mean piracy; it does mean the industry has to behave as if it believes in fair use, reasonable prices and in suing only live grandmothers.

Work on it, Sherm.

Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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