This makes me curious about something: Suppose a place like Stanford University has tried to comply with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act by naming a DMCA Designated Agent. And, suppose, at the same time, the University allows students to have web sites visible beyond the stanford.edu domain. And then, suppose a student’s web site is suspected by any of a dozen CBHIs (Copyright Bounty Hunter Incs) of doing something intrinsically naughty. Then, once and for all, under COICA, may we finally find cause for closing down these educational enterprises that seem to so threaten our proprietary ways of life? I know that an educated populace is sometimes an unwieldy one to govern, but using copyright law as the means to stop education seems to run a bit beyond its constitutional purview “to promote the progress of science and useful arts.” Is that what COICA could do? Just curious.
If so, this COICA may be not merely a wolf in sheep’s clothing, in its apparent zeal to burn down the house and roast the little piggies inside, this naughty COICA (rhymes with cloaca it does!) may be something far more sinister. It reminds me of other misguided things: the attempt to protect facts from over-distribution* (the perennial Database protection acts), or the attempt to eliminate the public domain (the period after 1923 now known as the Sonny Bono Dark Ages), or the attempt to allow the privatization of judicial proceedings and other government work (are you all aware of some of the cost recovery things being done within the Dept. of Energy now?).
It is curious that Intellectual Property Law has seemed so unable to adapt to our newly developed mechanisms for distributing ideas. Some Internet places, have found that the profit isn’t to be had by owning the stuff that people access, it is by making access to it easy and popular. Perhaps if the phonograph, printing, film, and floppy disk industries were to realize that their oxcarts are becoming obsolete, they could learn a McLuhanesque lesson and start to redirect their lobbying dollars into more profitable avenues. Google knows that a zillion milli-pennies are worth more than a million dollar bills. Congress would certainly be able to craft more enlightened policy if their arteries were not so clogged with roasted piggy fat arising from nostalgic grasps at reclaiming a bygone era.
*Facts are such fragile things you know: cast them too broadly and they will surely become ragged!