Reality Checks: Say It Ain’t So, Justin!

Well, I’ve got to hand it to them, this Free Bieber website is a laugh. But I’ve learned that these anti-IP folks can’t be trusted, so before I sign that petition that keeps popping up, I think I’d like to get some facts.

So there’s this bill, S. 978. And our friends at the Free Bieber website (speaking of which, who ARE those guys? Hmmm, more on that in a minute) tell us that because singing a song is copyright infringement (note to self: check on that one) and it advanced Bieber’s career, so it’s commercial (note to self: check on that one, too), this new bill would make it a felony. Well, that would be about as crazy as it gets, wouldn’t it?

But what does the law actually say? “Any person who willfully infringes a copyright…”  It looks like our friends forgot to mention that before any infringement can be considered criminal, it has to be willful—the person has to know they are infringing copyright and do it, anyway.

Well, um, well, what if some judge doesn’t know that? Copyright law is all complicated and stuff, so maybe they don’t know. Ah, my friend, Congress covered that, too. You see, the law already says that evidence of infringement alone is not enough to prove willful infringement. Right there on the very same page. It’s so obvious, you’d almost have to be TRYING to miss it….

Well, sure, that’s what the law says now, but after this new nasty bill with long, pointy teeth passes, what will the law say? The same thing? Oh. Forgot about that one. The even bigger silliness in their campaign against S. 978 is that WILLFUL INFRINGEMENT IS ALREADY A CRIME. All this bill does is increase the penalty for certain types of willful infringement. And regardless of the dubious reasoning on the Free Bieber site, there is no reason to believe that Justin Bieber was willfully infringing.

So, who are the people making such a fuss about it? Their website only says that it’s a project of something called “fight for the future.” And who runs that? Their website doesn’t say. So I guess the only thing we know about these folks, given that they call copyright law “extreme” and “obsolete,” is that whoever they are, they don’t like the copyright law. That’s fine for them, but if they need to mislead and scare people to make their point, I’m not impressed.


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