The RIAA and the government are collaborating against you, you pirate low-life swine. Yes, you – and you, and you.

Look, they’ve tried to make it clear that this situation does not arise from a failed business model for the recording industry and its failure to adapt to new technology. It’s your fault and your problem and you should be bankrupted and ruined. Don’t look away – they’re talking to you!

The RIAA has decided that private lawsuits aren’t enough. Not that it’s slowing down. A couple of days ago, the RIAA filed five hundred more lawsuits against people using Kazaa to download music.

But lawsuits are expensive. Darn it all, it’s unfair for the RIAA to have to bear that expense. You feel their pain, right? Wouldn’t you enjoy paying taxes to fund the fight against copyright infringement?

Not to worry – the RIAA owns enough lawmakers that they may be able to get the government to take care of the problem. Legislation is being rushed through Congress authorizing the Department of Justice to file civil lawsuits against suspected copyright infringers, with fines in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Tens of thousands of continuing civil enforcement actions might be needed to generate the necessary deterrence,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said when announcing his support for the bill.

What a great idea! Why, it’s so unlikely anyone would want to comment that it’s probably not worth mentioning that it was rushed through Congress without any public hearings, completely bypassing the normal legislative process. Proponents attempted to get the Senate to vote on it during the period reserved for “noncontroversial” measures.

And how could anyone object to giving Ashcroft’s Justice Department the power to obtain electronic wiretaps to investigate file sharing?

“It represents yet another point in another very long line of major corporate copyright interests pushing for and receiving what amounts to significant corporate welfare,” said Adam Eisgrau, a lobbyist for the P2P United trade association. “This legislation literally offloads the cost of enforcing copyrights traditionally borne by the copyright holder onto the federal government and therefore the taxpayers.”

Maybe we’ve become so accustomed to the government acting on behalf of big corporate interests that this stuff no longer shocks. But it’s a slippery slope to a much different world than I want.

Lawrence Lessig’s new book is Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology And The Law To Lock Down Culture And Control Creativity. It’s a fascinating read and it couldn’t be more relevant and timely. In addition to being published in book form, it can be downloaded for free – Lessig practices what he preaches. Our popular culture is being locked down before our eyes – be informed!

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