Copyfraud Author Meets “Creative America”

I recently blogged about Creative America, a content-industry organization that disseminates misinformation about copyright law.

This afternoon, as I was crossing the campus at the University of Southern California following a talk about my book, I was stopped by a young woman with a clipboard who asked me if I had “five minutes to save American jobs.” I said I was happy to listen. She then told me that she wasn’t asking for any money, just seeking my support, by way of a signature, for Creative America, which, she said is devoted to “stopping online piracy which costs Americans $50 billion every year.” The remainder of our conversation was roughly as follows:

Me: Online piracy, huh? I know what a pirate is. What is an online pirate?

Creative America Representative: Online pirates use websites to download illegally copyrighted movies and music.

Me: So they’re not really pirates?

CAR: Well….

Me: No eye patch?

CAR: Maybe pirate is the wrong word. But they are thieves. They steal intellectual property.

Me: What does that mean? I know what stealing is. But what does it mean to steal intellectual property?

CAR: It means watching a movie or listening to music without paying for it.

Me: So it’s not really theft. That’s not the right word either.

CAR: It’s just like stealing something from a store.

Me: Is it? There are laws about stealing things from stores. But is there a law of intellectual property theft? I know there is a law of copyright infringement.

CAR: Well, infringement is what we are really talking about. Maybe stealing isn’t quite the right word either.

Me: How do you plan to stop what you call online piracy?

CAR: We’re proposing legislation to shut down websites.

Me: What kind of websites?

CAR: Websites that are engaged in piracy, er, infringement.

Me: How will you make sure that the legislation isn’t used to target lawful sites? How will you make sure fair use is protected?

CAR: We’re not focused on fair use.

Me: So what is Creative America exactly?

CAR: Creative America is a grassroots organization of ordinary people who work in creative industries. We have sound engineers, actors, editors, all losing jobs as a result of online piracy.

Me: Are you a sound engineer?

CAR: No.

Me: Are you a student here at USC?

CAR: No.

Me: How did you get involved?

CAR: I was just hired to collect signatures.

Me: Isn’t Creative American just a front for content industries that want to enhance their rights? I bet sound engineers aren’t paying you to collect signatures.

CAR: ¬†Well….

Me: Wouldn’t it be better to give more accurate information about the organization you are working for and its goals?

CAR: You sound just like my dad. He said that.

Me: More people should listen to your dad.

CAR: So you won’t be giving me your signature?

Me: No.

CAR: Thanks for stopping.

Me: Good luck.

CAR (to next passerby): Do you have five minutes to save American jobs?

This is a pirate.

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