Thursday, June 07, 2007

Witch Doctor

Some of Cory Doctorow's choicest criticism this week was aimed at the U.S. Department of Justice and the "torturer in chief" who is attempting to add "attempted piracy" to the list of punishable U.S. offenses, despite a potentially very hazy definition. Notice the use of quotation marks in CNN's reporting on the proposed Intellectual Property Protection Act to get a sense of how even traditional broadcast media are skeptical of Gonzales's truth claims.

In a similar vein, as an exercise in institutional branding, I was interested to see this disquisition on the FBI's anti-piracy seal. Although otherwise federal agencies are becoming more protective with their seals, names, and visual identities, the FBI explains that "we are evaluating the licensing arrangements we have with members of these associations with a view towards permitting the broadest possible public use of the seal by all individuals and businesses with a copyright interest." In other words, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) can use the FBI seal on their products while critics and activists are potentially prohibited from using it for purposes of political speech.

Finally, see the economic arguments from the Copyright Alliance for the pro-industry position, complete with lesson plans for schools. That's right, with standardized testing, most high school students don't make it beyond the Vietnam War in their U.S. History classes, but apparently room can be made in the crowded academic calendar for more messages from the recording industry. They can even provide textbook materials and school assemblies for your pupils!

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