A new anti-piracy law, proposed yesterday by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has been criticized as pointless pandering to lobby groups, and ‘cronyism’. Worse, the bill is based on date from the widely discredited LEK study of 2006.
The new law proposes to make the recording of films in a cinema a class A misdemeanor with penalties of up to a year in prison, and a $1,000 fine for a first offender. Repeat offenders would be charged with a felony, and correspondingly higher penalties.
Unusually, however, the bill is unnecessary, as the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005 (link) already criminalized this action, with much stronger penalties. The question then seems to be not what the act is about, but WHY?
Fortunately. The answer isn’t hard to guess at with some digging. Mr Cuomo, has, like the MPAA chairman Dan Glickman, strong ties to the Clintons. Cuomo was considering running for the US Senate in 2000, but allowed current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to run for that seat instead.
At the time, he was a Cabinet Secretary in her husband Bill’s, White House, serving as ‘Secretary of Housing and Urban Development’, during the same period that current MPAA chairman Dan Glickman was serving as ‘Secretary of Agriculture’. To some, that seems more than coincidence.
It is little surprise then, that the announcements for the law contain data from the MPAA’s 2006 LEK study as their only supporting evidence. A study which has not only been widely ridiculed (including by me), but which the MPAA has themselves undermined earlier this year.
Speaking out against the bill has been the US Pirate Party, calling it “a disgusting act of cronyism”. Ray Jenson, the Party’s operations officer , commented on the bill saying, “There can be no justice in this country, if a lobby group can effectively ‘buy’ former colleagues to propose laws like these.” The Party also hinted that they would soon be releasing a study, showing a more realistic view of the damage caused by ‘cinema camming’.
Whilst the law hasn’t been passed yet, the support shows that at least some of the millions the MPAA has pumped into its lobbying efforts have not been in vain. Meanwhile the chairman of the US Pirate Party, Andrew Norton, had this comment to offer. “In the end, no amount of laws will save the horse-and-cart that is the Entertainment Industry right now, from technological progress in this automobile age.”The NY Attorney General’s office had not replied to calls for comment at the time of publication.