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Blue Mountain
13th November 2005, 07:56 PM
In the same week in which Sony BMG was caught installing rootkits on Windows computers (http://www.sysinternals.com/blog/2005/10/sony-rootkits-and-digital-rights.html) in the name of battling "piracy", we get the following madness from the current US administration: people downloading music from the internet are financing terrorism. (http://www.fmqb.com/Article.asp?id=143484)

What US Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales said was that the internet is encouraging organized crime to get involved with intellectual property theft, and proceeds from that are going to fund terrorism activities.

I am utterly baffled by the thought processes involved in coming to this conclusion. How on Earth do teenagers sharing Brittany Spears tunes over BitTorrent fund terrorism? There's no money being exchanged! The ones making the material available for download aren't charging for it, and for sure the downloaders aren't paying for it.

Is there nothing that the administration won't link to terrorism to push its pro-corporate and anti-citizen agenda?

Mind you, this comes from a man who dismissed the Geneva Convention as "quaint".

neutrino_cannon
13th November 2005, 08:06 PM
encouraging large-scale criminal enterprises to get involved in intellectual-property theft.

I think he mean pirated DVDs or something where there's actual commerce going on.

I don't know if that's a legitimate concern or not. Anyone have figures?

WildCat
13th November 2005, 08:12 PM
In the same week in which Sony BMG was caught installing rootkits on Windows computers (http://www.sysinternals.com/blog/2005/10/sony-rootkits-and-digital-rights.html) in the name of battling "piracy", we get the following madness from the current US administration: people downloading music from the internet are financing terrorism. (http://www.fmqb.com/Article.asp?id=143484)

What US Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales said was that the internet is encouraging organized crime to get involved with intellectual property theft, and proceeds from that are going to fund terrorism activities.

I am utterly baffled by the thought processes involved in coming to this conclusion. How on Earth do teenagers sharing Brittany Spears tunes over BitTorrent fund terrorism? There's no money being exchanged! The ones making the material available for download aren't charging for it, and for sure the downloaders aren't paying for it.

Is there nothing that the administration won't link to terrorism to push its pro-corporate and anti-citizen agenda?

Mind you, this comes from a man who dismissed the Geneva Convention as "quaint".
Your link doesn't mention downloading at all. I think what they're after here are the guys selling boxes of pirated dvd's and cd's to those dollar stores and flea markets. Not to mention the guys selling them to people in cars at intersections.

Blue Mountain
13th November 2005, 08:31 PM
I think he mean pirated DVDs or something where there's actual commerce going on.

I don't know if that's a legitimate concern or not. Anyone have figures?
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Wide spread copying of DVDs seems to make some money for the people doing the copying. I have no clue where Gonzales thinks these people are in turn funneling money to terrorists. Unless he thinks terrorists are trying to make money selling bootleg videos. If that's the case, any business, legitimate or otherwise, can be financing terrorism!

Ziggurat
13th November 2005, 09:18 PM
What US Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales said was that the internet is encouraging organized crime to get involved with intellectual property theft, and proceeds from that are going to fund terrorism activities.

I am utterly baffled by the thought processes involved in coming to this conclusion. How on Earth do teenagers sharing Brittany Spears tunes over BitTorrent fund terrorism?

I don't think you understood his point. It's not that downloading Britney Spears from Kazaa helps terrorists. You are correct that such activity cannot really help terrorists, since no funds are transfered. The argument is that the internet help REAL pirates (as in the guys who DO actually sell illegal copies of music, movies, and software - yes, they really do exist) operate more efficiently. And that's actually exactly what we should expect: the internet is a general-purpose enabler, so of course it's going to help pirates, just like it helps legitimate businesses.

Terrorist organizations do in fact try to exploit just about ANY money-making criminal enterprise, and that does include copyright piracy. And criminal enterprises ARE more preferable for terrorists than legal businesses, for two reasons: first, their profit margins are often extremely high, and second, money gained from criminal activity is pretty much automatically harder to track, which has rather obvious benefits for terrorists.

So there's nothing false in the claim by Gonzales. The only issue for debate is how MUCH of a problem it really is. Terrorist organizations get money from lots of different sources, and copyright piracy should only get this kind of attention commensurate with the significance of it as a source of revenue for terrorists. That they get some funding I'm sure is true, but I don't really have an idea of how much, particularly compared to other sources (drugs, "charities", etc). If you think it's too small a source to become such a focus, then by all means speak up and object. But Gonzales isn't actually lying, I think you just didn't take the time to figure out what he really meant. And opposition to policies based on bad analysis works much better if you nail the actual problem with the analysis, and don't run off down blind alleys.

TragicMonkey
13th November 2005, 09:33 PM
I'm glad he's focused on all that terrorist-funding DVD piracy, rather than wasting his time worried about all that freaking opium being grown in Afghanistan. I'm sure the terrorists get a lot more of their money from DVDs than freaking opium.

Kevin_Lowe
13th November 2005, 09:34 PM
Your link doesn't mention downloading at all. I think what they're after here are the guys selling boxes of pirated dvd's and cd's to those dollar stores and flea markets. Not to mention the guys selling them to people in cars at intersections.

I suppose any time there is a seriously distorted market with the potential for big, illegal profits it makes sense for any kind of organised crime network to get involved. Just as drug criminalisation makes drug dealing extraordinarily profitable, government-enforced monopolies on bundles of data make it extraordinarily profitable to undercut the monopoly.

What I am curious about is how the internet is supposed to fit into the picture. Commercial DVD piracy can be conducted just by buying one commercial copy of a selected DVD and then replicating it endlessly. You could download your master copy from the internet, but it only saves you a few tens of dollars to do so, so why would organised pirates bother?

If anything the internet should undercut such business, since those inclined to get stuff for free can cut out the middle man and download it from a peer directly.

What I imagine is going on here is that terrorist networks do make the odd dollar out of organised piracy, but that this fact is being misused to make a case for copyright laws aimed squarely at grass roots copying and sharing.

neutrino_cannon
13th November 2005, 10:03 PM
I'm glad he's focused on all that terrorist-funding DVD piracy, rather than wasting his time worried about all that freaking opium being grown in Afghanistan. I'm sure the terrorists get a lot more of their money from DVDs than freaking opium.

IIRC, the Taliban prohibited the production of opium.

http://opioids.com/afghanistan/

Of course, now that we've gotten rid of those thugs your point may well be valid.

Ziggurat
13th November 2005, 10:37 PM
Commercial DVD piracy can be conducted just by buying one commercial copy of a selected DVD and then replicating it endlessly. You could download your master copy from the internet, but it only saves you a few tens of dollars to do so, so why would organised pirates bother?

With respect to movies, one of the problems is pirated copies coming out while the movie is still in theaters. Studios generally make DVD copies to distribute to a small, very select audience (executives, potential distributors, hopeful merchandise licensees, etc). Some of these often make it into the hands of people who then illegally copy them and release them on the internet. Pirates get hold of it from there, and then release DVD's while the movies are still playing theaters. I know that's basically what happened with Lord of the Rings, because I know someone who got hold of a DivX copy well before it made it to DVD (I bought the extended edition DVD anyways because I liked it enough to put up money for the real thing). So there's definitely a reason for them to bother, it really does help the pirates. What should be done about it is another matter, but the problem does exist.