Gov't Using Copyright to Shut Down Internet Free Speech?

Make no mistake about it folks, this is a smokescreen to get you to fall for more government control which will ultimately destroy everything from small businesses to your freedom of speech.

WASHINGTON — Federal authorities have shut down 150 websites accused of selling knock-off or pirated merchandise to unsuspecting online bargain hunters.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton and Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer announced the results of the ICE and FBI three-month investigation on “Cyber Monday,” the day that for many shoppers kicks off the online holiday shopping season.

The government seized the domain names for the sites that sold everything from fake replica NBA jerseys to replica Louis Vuitton handbags and imitation Ugg boots.

“This is straight crime,” Morton said. “This is people being duped into buying a counterfeit.”

The federal government has seized the domain names of 350 websites since first targeting online counterfeiters in June 2010. Each investigation, Morton said, has grown.

Visitors to the seized domains are now greeted with a message from federal authorities explaining that the site has been seized by the government and a warning that “willful copyright infringement is a federal crime.”

Full article at link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/feds-seize-domain-names-of-150-websites-accused-of-selling-counterfeit-pirated-merchandise/2011/11/28/gIQAITG84N_story.html

Technically speaking, I am risking being sued just to bring you that excerpt of the news which affects all of us. A few recent cases have held that an excerpt and proper attribution is not enough to be held liable in civil court, but the notice attached to Associated Press articles are chilling nonetheless. Keep in mind here that this is indeed public news we are talking about here, even if they did happen to write an article about it.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Now, I would argue that I was not infringing on their rights by simply including an excerpt as part of my own creative piece, but would a judge see it the way I do? Especially a judge that happened to have a grudge against a dissident blog such as this? Somehow, I am not convinced, in this day and age, that the powers-that-be are interested in doing the right thing. Especially as the raids mount, and the noose of laws tighten around the neck of the internet. Even if I were to succeed in defending myself in such a lawsuit, it would probably still mean the end of this blog, and therefore a win for fascism no matter how we slice the pie, just as it stands right now. But there are legislative bills in the pipeline right now, that will leave you on the hook for a lawsuit, for the most mundane reference to something someone else claims to "own."

When I found out Fight for the Future needed help with their campaign against a new bill called PROTECT-IP, I had to take a little time away from Everything is a Remix Part 4 and produce the video above. PROTECT-IP is the latest piece of legislation aiming to chip away at your online rights in the name of protecting the entertainment industry's business model. It's legislation that won't work, will give us yet more lawsuits, and will make the net worse.

Whether you lean right and hate business regulation, lean left and hate censorship, or lean neither way but hate useless legislation, PROTECT-IP is a bill everyone should oppose. I encourage you to head over to Fight For the Future and contact congress.


Also check out: Book Burning in the Digital Age... and so it begins

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