Anyone who has travelled to or through the U.S. knows that customs procedures and requirements have become more stringent over the last decade.
If the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America have their way, it could get a lot more complicated for music fans.
The Office of International Intellectual Property Enforcement (IPE) is the branch of the U.S. State Department that enforces interests of holders of American copyrights. This includes counterfeit and pirated material of all sorts, both physical and virtual. That also means music and video files.
The RIAA and the MPAA recently submitted a coordinated strategic plan to the IPE — and it’s insane on an Orwellian level. They call for the following:
• The installation of spyware on all computers capable of detecting and deleting material it believes infringes copyright. (They believe that once educated, consumers will install this software voluntarily.)
• Mandatory installation of software on all Internet connections to detect and stop transfers of material it deems to be infringing copyright.
• Empower U.S. customs agents to search for pirated or unauthorized material on personal media players (MP3 players and phones), laptops, USB drives or any other media with the ability to store audio and video. If they find something, then the device should be seized. (Canadian customs can do the same thing, but require a court order.)
• New copyright enforcement muscle by everyone from the FBI to the Department of Homeland Security, specifically asking them to provide protection during summer blockbuster season.
• The IPE to lean on countries around the world to adopt the same policies.
Before we get too freaked out, it’s important to remember that this is just a wishlist submitted by the RIAA and the MPAA. What’s scary, though, is the window this gives us into how the American entertainment industry is thinking these days: A non-neutral Internet, less digital privacy (including the enlistment of American citizens to participate in the surveillance of themselves) and the use of federal agents to act as free bodyguards for high-profile releases.
Thankfully, this is an American issue — for now. But as with the semi-secret negotiations around the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in which Canada is participating, we need to keep an eye on this.
The Ongoing History Of New Music can be heard on stations across Canada. Read more
at ongoinghistory.com and exploremusic.com