The news you're not supposed to know...

An Introduction to Austrian Economics: Understand Economics, Understand Everything
The Century of the Self: The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires
The Disappearing Male: From Virility to Sterility

The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off
Operation Gladio: The Hidden History of U.S. Sponsored False Flag Terrorism in EuropeThe New American Century: The Untold History of The Project for the New American Century
Article posted May 20 2013, 12:54 AM Category: Big Brother/Orwellian Source: Techdirt Print

Eric Holder Claims Terrorists Are Involved In 'IP Theft'

by Mike Masnick

You may have heard about a fair bit about Attorney General Eric Holder testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning. He was -- quite reasonably -- raked over the coals by members of both parties for the incredible decision to obtain phone records from AP reporters, under very questionable circumstances.

There was one other odd tidbit that might be worth discussing around here as well. Suddenly, in the middle of all the questions about the Associated Press, Rep. Mel Watt -- who, during the SOPA markup famously declared that he didn't understand the technology, or why tech people were concerned, but also that he didn't care and wanted to pass SOPA without bothering to understand -- started asking questions about copyright and "enforcement." Yes, Mel Watt is the ranking member on the IP subcommittee (scary enough in its own right), but it seemed completely off topic.

Most of the coverage on Watt's questioning has focused on the fact that he did most of his questioning with his two-year-old grandson on his lap, who interrupts the questioning at one point. But the questions were ridiculous, as were the answers, and deserve some scrutiny. First, despite it being soundly rejected when SOPA went down in flames, Watt asks Holder if Congress should make online streaming of infringing material a felony, rather than the misdemeanor that it currently is. There are all sorts of problems with this idea, as we've discussed in the past, but Holder embraced the idea wholeheartedly, saying that the Justice Department would love to have "another tool," ignoring just how widely the DOJ has abused existing tools to shut down legitimate companies and websites.

And then Watt directly asks about a connection to terrorism:
Watt: Are there increasing indications of links between this problem and terrorism? Have you found any of those links and would you describe them for the committee?

Holder: Yes, that's a very good question. It's something that's very worrisome. As we saw organized crime get into a variety of other businesses in order to support their efforts, we're now seeing terrorist groups getting into the theft of intellectual property. Again, to generate money to support what they're trying to do for their terrorist means. So we have to broaden our enforcement efforts, broaden the investigative efforts that we take, to examine what are the precise reasons why people are engaging in this kind of intellectual property thievery. And to consider whether or not there's a terrorist connection to it. This is a relatively new phenomenon, but one we have to be aware of.
Watt then asks about things that Congress can do to help, and Holder says he's "particularly concerned" about this problem, and he asks for "enhanced penalties" for "intellectual property theft."

That all sounds very interesting. And it might be, if there were any truth to it at all. Unfortunately, there's not. We've yet to see a single piece of evidence supporting the idea that terrorists are involved in infringement. The claim has been around for years, and we've asked for evidence for years, and none has ever been provided. Because it doesn't exist. Researcher Joe Karaganis looked into the issue a few years ago and found that there were some very vague reports of organized crime being involved in counterfeit CDs/DVDs in the 80s and 90s. But that was small and short-lived -- in large part because online infringement basically made that business obsolete:
Arguing that piracy is integral to such networks [organized crime and terrorism] means ignoring the dramatic changes in the technology and organizational structure of the pirate market over the past decade. By necessity, evidentiary standards become very loose. Decades-old stories are recycled as proof of contemporary terrorist connections, anecdotes stand in as evidence of wider systemic linkages, and the threshold for what counts as organized crime is set very low. The RAND study, which reprises and builds on earlier IFPI and Interpol reporting, is constructed almost entirely around such practices. Prominent stories about IRA involvement in movie piracy and Hezbollah involvement in DVD and software piracy date, respectively, to the 1980s and 1990s. Street vendor networks in Mexico City--a subject we treat at length in the Mexico chapter--are mischaracterized as criminal gangs connected with the drug trade. Piracy in Russia is attributed to criminal mafias rather than to the chronically porous boundary between licit and illicit enterprise. The Pakistani criminal gang D-Company, far from "forging a clear pirate monopoly" in Bollywood, in RAND's words, plays a small and diminishing part in Indian DVD piracy--its smuggling networks dwarfed by local production.

The US record isn't more convincing in this regard. Jeffrey McIllwain examined the Department of Justice’s IP-related prosecutions between 2000 and 2004 and found that only 49 out of the 105 cases alleged that the defendant operated within larger, organized networks. Nearly all of these were "warez" distribution groups for pirated software--hacker communities that are explicitly and often fiercely non-commercial in orientation. McIllwain found "no overt references to professional organized crime groups" in any of the DOJ's criminal charges (McIllwain 2005:27). If organized crime is a serious problem in these contexts, it should not be difficult to produce a stronger evidentiary record.
In other words, Rep. Mel Watt, a well known supporter of Hollywood's position on copyright, tossed a bogus softball FUD talking point to Eric Holder in the middle of an important hearing about a very different subject, and Holder proceeded to make claims to Congress that have been made for decades without a single bit of evidence to support it.

Holder has plenty of other serious issues to deal with these days, but it makes me incredibly uncomfortable to see our Attorney General appear to be spreading known scare stories that have been proven bogus from decades ago as if they're new, despite a single bit of evidence concerning any modern connection to terrorism.

Latest Big Brother/Orwellian
- Sony Hack Reinvigorates Support for Privacy-Busting CISPA-Style Legislation
- Government Wastes Taxpayers' Money On Crappy "Shark-Like Spy Drone"
- Silk Road Prosecutors Rely on Slander As Trial Approaches
- Copyright Law as a Tool for State Censorship of the Internet
- Bill Aimed At Shutting Off NSA's Water Starts Moving Forward Again
- Baltimore Prosecutors Withdraw Evidence Rather Than Talk About Police Department's Stingray Usage
- Detekt: A New Malware Detection Tool That Can Expose Illegitimate State Surveillance
- 2nd Grader's Homework Teaches 'The Government GIVES Us Our Rights'

No Comments Posted Add Comment

Add Comment


Verification *
Please Enter the Verification Code Seen Below

Please see our About Page, our Disclaimer, and our Comments Policy.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which in some cases has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for the purposes of news reporting, education, research, comment, and criticism, which constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable intellectual property laws. It is our policy to remove material from public view that we believe in good faith to be copyrighted material that has been illegally copied and distributed by any of our members or users.

About Us - Disclaimer - Privacy Policy

Advanced Search


Remember Me
Forgot Password?

Cop Stops Fellow Cop From Choking a Handcuffed Man, She Was Then Beaten and Fired - 12/18Thieves Yell "Police" Before Invading Home, Shooting and Robbing Resident - 12/18A Peace Officer Defies the "Blue Tribe": The Exile of Officer Cariol Horne - 12/19Tennessee Town Passes Policy Banning Negative Comments About The Town's Government - 12/18For Punitive Populists, "Comply or Die" IS The "Law" - 12/19Psychotic Vegas Cop Filmed Beating Man For Filming In Viral Video Queitly Hired By Another Dept. - 12/17Cops Called For Wellness Check Beat Innocent Man, Pile On False Charges; Jury Exonerates, Twice - 12/17Ignorance Is No Excuse for Wrongdoing, Unless You're a Cop - 12/17

Rialto, CA Police Made to Wear Cameras, Use of Force Drops by Over Two-ThirdsCop Who Karate Chopped NY Judge In Throat Gets Off Scot-FreeFlorida Cop Smashes Compliant Woman's Face Into Car -- "Maybe Now You Can Understand Simple Instructions"VIDEO: Lapel Cam Reveals A Day In The Life Of A U.S. Police Officer (Tasing, Beating, Breaking & Entering, Stomping On Heads... and Laughing About It)Caught On Tape: Officer Sucker Punches Inmate In Face, Files Report Claiming 'Self Defense'Insult Person On Twitter, Go To JailSWAT Team Brings TV Crew To Film Raid Against Threatening Internet Critic -- Raids Innocent Grandma InsteadCop Karate Chops NY Judge In The Throat