Mr. President, I rise to join Senator Leahy in sponsoring the Protecting Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation Act (the "PIRATE Act"), a measure that will provide the Department of Justice with tools to combat the rampant copyright piracy facilitated by peer-to-peer filesharing software.
[Calling this the "PIRATE" act, and calling copyright infringement "piracy" is either stupidity on Senator Hatch's part, which I doubt, or an attempt to make the act of infringing copyright law sound vastly worse than it is. Piracy?]
Let me underscore at the outset that our bill does not expand the scope of the existing powers of the Department of Justice to prosecute persons who infringe copyrights. Instead, our proposal will assist the Department in exercising existing enforcement powers through a civil enforcement mechanism. After considerable study, we have concluded that this is the most appropriate mechanism.
[It does not expand the scope of existing powers? Then why write the bill? Perhaps Senator Hatch is saying this because, well, he wants it to sound more palateable than it is?]
Peer-to-peer file sharing software has created a dilemma for law-enforcement agencies. Millions of otherwise law-abiding American citizens are using this software to create and redistribute infringing copies of popular music, movies, computer games and software.
[And when millions of law-abiding Americans are doing something, shouldn't we at least consider legalizing it?]
Some who copy these works do not fully understand the illegality, or perhaps the serious consequences, of their infringing activities. This group of filesharers should not be the focus of federal law-enforcement efforts. Quite frankly, the distributors of most filesharing software have failed to adequately educate the children and young people who use their software about its legal and illegal uses.
[And what exactly are those "serious consequences"? That the recording industry will have to protect its investment technologically, or shange its business model? Quite frankly, I'm more worried about children being educated in writing and life skills, than in having them educated about the legal uses of file-sharing software.]
A second group of filesharers consists of those who copy and redistribute copyrighted works even though they do know that doing so violates federal law. In many cases, these are college students or young people who think that they will not get caught. Many of these filesharers are engaging in acts that could now subject them to federal criminal prosecution for copyright piracy.
[Copyright piracy: The act of stealing and murdering copyright in the ocean. Interesting.]
It is critical that we bring the moral force of the government to bear against those who knowingly violate the federal copyrights enshrined in our Constitution. But many of us remain concerned that using criminal law enforcement remedies to act against these infringers could have an overly-harsh effect, perhaps, for example, putting thousands of otherwise law-abiding teenagers and college students in jail and branding them with the lifelong stigma of a felony criminal conviction.
[Moral force? Our government is not in the business of enforcing morality -- it is in the business of enforcing law. Morality and law are closely related, but they are not the same thing. In this country we do not prosecute people when they are immoral, because morality is subjective, we do it because they've broken the law.
By the way, Senator Hatch again is either being stupid or is spouting hyperbole: the Constitution does not enshrine any copyright regulation. The Constitution says "The Congress shall have Power To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."]
The bill I join Senator Leahy in sponsoring today will allow the Department of Justice to supplement its existing criminal-enforcement powers through the new civil-enforcement mechanism. As a result, the Department will be able to impose stiff penalties for violating copyrights, but can avoid criminal action when warranted.
[It does not expand the scope of existing powers? Let's see. The bill is quite simple. It changes the law to (1) let the Attorney General file a civil suit against a copyright infringer, rather than having the copyright owner do it, and (2) give two million dollars to the Attorney General's office for training, enforcement, and reporting to Congress about it. I admit I speak from ignorance, but isn't the Attorney General's office busy with criminal cases, like terrorism and such?]
In advancing this measure, I must note that I view this civil-enforcement authority as another tool, hopefully a transitional tool at that. In the long run, I believe that we must find better mechanisms to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens - our children - are not being constantly tempted to infringe the copyrights that have made America a world leader in the production of creative works.
[The current copyright period is 95 years. That is longer than the lifespan of every sentient creature in the world. Do you think that an artist is going to avoid creating a work of art because he/she will not be able to control it for after his/her death?]
Only recently has America faced the specter of widespread copyright-enforcement actions against individual users of copyrighted works. For nearly 200 years, copyright enforcement was rarely directed against the millions of ordinary American citizens who use and enjoy copyrighted works. Instead, creators and distributors of copyrighted content worked together to negotiate the complex licensing agreements and technological protections needed to distribute copyrighted works in ways that accommodated both the expectations of users and the copyrights of artists.
[What has changed in 200 years? Well, perhaps the Internet gives us that capability to do some things that we may have had difficulty doing 200 years ago. Like sharing. Sharing opinions. Like this one -- which is shareable using peer-to-peer... Forget it. Given human nature, if you are still reading this, then you are either looking to tear apart my arguments, as I am Senator Hatch's, or you are already convinced and looking for confirmation of you own beliefs.]
But recently, some unscrupulous corporations may have exploited new technologies and discovered that the narrow scope of civil contributory liability for copyright infringement can be utilized so that ordinary consumers and children become, in effect, "human shields" against copyright owners and law enforcement agencies. Unscrupulous corporations could distribute to children and students a "piracy machine" designed to tempt them to engage in copyright piracy or pornography distribution.
[Ah. Let's talk about "unscrupulous corporations" "exploiting" "children." And let's bring "pornography" into this speech. That should touch off a few tempers that were not lit so far.]
Unfortunately, piracy and pornography could then become the cornerstones of a "business model." At first, children and students would be tempted to infringe copyrights or redistribute pornography. Their illicit activities then generate huge advertising revenues for the architects of piracy. Those children and students then become "human shields" against enforcement efforts that would disrupt the flow of those revenues. Later, large user-bases and the threat of more piracy would become levers to force American artists to enter licensing agreements in which they pay the architects of piracy to distribute and protect their works on the Internet.
[Rant. "Tempted" "illicit" "huge revenues" "human shields" "threat". Hatch gave up on using logic, and is not trying to imflame you.]
Federal enforcement action is surely warranted if such "business models" are driving the increasing ease of piracy on peer-to-peer filesharing networks. Such business models exploit children, cheat artists, and threaten the future development of commerce on the Internet.
Indeed, our government recognizes that its enforcement powers are appropriate when protecting intellectual property and public safety. Recently, in a speech to the United States Chamber of Commerce, Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, Jr. asserted that the Department of Justice should assist private enforcement of intellectual property rights if any of three criteria are met: (1) the level of piracy becomes particularly egregious; (2) public health and safety are put at risk; or (3) private civil remedies fail to adequately deter illegal conduct.
[It's not "piracy." It's copyright infringment. Repeat that.]
In the case of peer-to-peer filesharing, all three criteria may be met. The level of piracy on these networks is not merely egregious, it is unprecedented. Public health and safety are also directly threatened by business models that tempt children toward piracy and pornography and then use them as "human shields" against law enforcement.
[Public health and safety is put at risk by file sharing? Does he understand how inane that sounds? Why is he continuing to use the term "human shield"? A citizen who uses file sharing software is no more a "human shield" than
Finally, the recording industry and other affected rights holders have tried - so far largely unsuccessfully - to use civil remedies to halt the operations of those who would profit by turning teenagers and college students into copyright pirates or pornography distributors.
[If Senator Hatch wishes to curb the distribution of pornography, perhaps he should introduce laws which deal with that instead. Maybe he could make laws against Playboy and X-rated video producers.
The recording industry is not a knight in shining armor protecting those poor children who would be enticed into the glamourous life of a criminal by unscrupulous file-sharing software companies who steal the attention and money of unsuspecting advertisees. The recording industry is an industry built to make money off the distribution of copyrighted material, and that industry is not happy with its current profits, and it desires to stop a phenomenon which would force it to change its method of doing business. If We The People want to share computer files, then perhaps it is the industry, not the people which needs a change.]
As a result, our creative industries' only remaining option to deter piracy is to bring enough civil enforcement actions against users of filesharing software. Tens of thousands of continuing civil enforcement actions might be needed to generate the necessary deterrence. I doubt that any nongovernmental organization has the resources or moral authority to pursue such a campaign.
[This is their only remaining option? Bright minds might be able to come up with other options which do not stop legal users of peer-to-peer software from sharing what is rightfully theirs.]
If enforcement actions against end-users were really the best or only way to enforce copyrights on the Internet, then civil enforcement authority would be necessary. But there may be other ways to combat this piracy at the root, not at the branch. I thus invite the Department of Justice and other federal law enforcement agencies to work with me, Senator Leahy and other members of the Judiciary Committee to determine how the enforcement powers of the federal government can best be deployed to solve the problems arising from piracy and pornography on peer-to-peer filesharing networks.
[Good. A point of agreement. Let's work on those other ways.]
I also understand that others may be developing proposals to increase criminal enforcement authority against piracy, and I hope to work with them on such proposals. Today, I stand with Senator Leahy to buttress the enforcement of copyrights by enabling the Department of Justice to proceed with a robust program of civil enforcement.
[I understand that Senator Hatch wishes to help out the recording industry which has generously contributed to his campaign and his political party. I understand that copyrights were made to protect the artist by protecting his/her work for a period of time. I understand that this bill proposes to have our tax dollars go to funding the Attorney General's office for doing the work that is rightfully the work of the recording industry. I understand that it is perfectly legal to share files within the bounds of copyright law. I understand that pornography is a separate issue that Senator Hatch has brought it up within this speech in order to inflame people. I understand that "piracy" is the act of murder and theft in the open ocean, and has nothing to do with copyright infringement. I understand that people who share files are not "human shields." I understand that millions of Americans realize that the law needs to change, and perhaps it needs to change in the opposite direction that Senator Hatch proposes.]
Mr. President, for the reasons I have just delineated, I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting the Protecting Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation Act.
[And I urge your colleagues to reject this attempt by the recording industry to sustain its losing business model at the expense of the American people.]