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commentary For nearly a decade, major music and film companies have lamented the loss of revenue and jobs that they blame on illegal file sharing. During that time they have lobbied lawmakers and enforcement agencies for antipiracy help.
But after reading reports from the FBI and Department of Justice about efforts to protect the nation’s intellectual property, I was stunned to find so few cases involving online file sharing.
Among the “significant” prosecutions the DOJ listed in 2010, Túi xách nữ hàng hiệu only one involved the illegal distribution of digital media over the Web. In April, Túi xách nữ hàng hiệu the DOJ won a conviction against the operator túi xách công sở nữ cao cấp of USAwarez.com, a site that the feds claim used the Web to distribute pirated movies, games, and software. The man was sentenced to more than two years in jail.
Contrast this one conviction with the scores of sites that stream pirated movies and the millions of people around the world who use peer-to-peer networks to access unauthorized copies of films, TV shows, e-books, and games.
Media companies say piracy costs the U.S. economy billions and kills jobs, harming actors and musicians as well as caterers and truck drivers. Entertainment companies spend millions on lobbying efforts and all the government can muster is one “significant’ digital-media prosecution. A DOJ representative did not respond to an interview request.
The DOJ’s 28-page report raises all kinds of questions for me.
Is the commercial pirating of films and music online harder to prosecute?
Are media companies hurt by this as much as they say? (The credibility of the studies that film and music sectors have cited on the impacts of piracy were called into question by the U.S. Government Accountability Office last year.) How much support in Washington do entertainment companies possess?
Smash and grab
The reports from the DOJ and FBI are part of the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008 (PRO IP), signed into law by former President George Bush.
As part of the act, civil and criminal penalties for copyright and trademark infringement were increased and a new office within the government’s executive branch was established. The act also requires the DOJ to submit a report on its PRO IP investigative and prosecution efforts.
President Barack Obama has promised to into protecting intellectual property. Last June, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told reporters that file sharing wasn’t any different than .
“Piracy is theft,” Biden said. “Clean and simple, it’s smash and grab. It ain’t no different than smashing a window at Tiffany’s and grabbing [merchandise].”
That’s tough talk. Pinpointing government action on this issue is more difficult.
A bill introduced in the Senate last year called the would have given the government sweeping power to shut down U.S.-based pirate sites as well as the authority to order Internet service providers to cut off access to similar sites overseas.