In the midst of the congressional battles over the Protect Ip Act, which many people--including me--believe will impinge on civil liberties and the freedom of the Internet, the White House is inadvertently taking sides with a new public relations campaign aimed at combating piracy through a strategy of demonization. According to a new PSA (see below), the government suggests buying pirated products aligns you with nefarious hispanic criminal gangs.
Yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Holder held a press conference, pointing to the urgent need to combat the illegal online trade. "Now, as our country continues to recover from once-in-a-generation economic challenges, the need to safeguard intellectual property rights and to protect Americans from IP crimes has never been more urgent," Holder said. "Through this new public education campaign, we are encouraging the American people to become vigilant partners in identifying and disrupting intellectual property crimes."
The campaign -- like most -- is blatantly manipulative, silly and completely oversimplifies the issue.
Don't buy it. Here's a list of Senators who support (and the few who oppose) PROTECT IP (complete with phone numbers). Call them and tell them how you feel.
And here's the new PSA "Premonition," made in partnership with MTV, which reminds me of the "two dollars" nightmare sequence in that old John Cusack teen movie. Buying pirated goods, suggests the ad spot, immediately ties you to Russian gangsters, drug dealers, abusive child labor and rising unemployment. (There's no mention of, ahem, out-of-control corporations perpetrating the same.) And if it weren't for the obviously ethnically diverse consumers in the video, I might say the National Crime Prevention Council was extremely racist.