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Monday, July 4, 2011

Senator Leahy Praises US Gov't Censorship Of Websites As ICE Takes Another Victory Lap

from the they-live-in-an-alternate-reality dept
by Mike Masnick, Techdirt

It really would be kind of funny to watch the US government congratulate itself for censorship of websites if it wasn't just kind of sad. At a Senate Judiciary committee hearing on intellectual property issues, Senator Patrick Leahy (top 3 campaign contribution sources: lawyers, entertainment industry, lobbyists -- you can't make this stuff up) praised administration officials for censoring websites based on questionable accusations from an entertainment industry who seems to think that their own content creators are running "pirate" websites.

Of course, Leahy apparently doesn't recognize the irony of condemning internet censorship in other countries while praising it at home when it benefits his biggest campaign contributors.

The same hearing gave ICE assistant director Erik Barnett one more chance to declare victory, though I note with some amusement that the text of Barnett's speech this time leaves out the bogus claim that no sites are challenging the seizures. Apparently he's realized that some people might call him on it when he blatantly misrepresents reality.

Either way, none of this dog and pony show is much of a surprise. You certainly wouldn't expect Senator Leahy to call one of the people who had their sites illegally seized to hear their side of the story. I mean, that might be embarrassing to actually hear that there's more than one side to this. He might have to hear about how the content creators themselves sent the content in question to these sites, and how the ICE affidavit to seize them misstated the facts of whether or not the content was infringing. He might have to hear how ICE didn't even ask the actual copyright holders, in most cases. He might have to hear how ICE doesn't seem to understand the technology, and doesn't seem to understand the difference between linking and distribution. He doesn't have to hear about how hardworking people who helped promote new artists and build their careers now live in fear of their own government. He doesn't have to hear about how these people are afraid to speak out, because the Justice Department has told them that if they do, they may face criminal charges.

No, it's easier to put on a show and pat yourself on the back for censoring those people and pretend that you've done something productive.

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American Senators...The best money can buy

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