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Hey, Kids – Anti-Piracy Propaganda!

Wired’s Threat Level blog has a great write up about a non-profit comic distributed to 50,000 US students which reads suspiciously like RIAA propaganda about file sharing.

The goals may be admirable:

“The purpose is basically to educate kids — middle school and high school-aged about how the justice system operates and about what really goes on in the courtroom as opposed to what you see on television,” said Lorri Montgomery, the center’s communications director.

but as Threat Level points out, there’s a lot of questionable questionable interpretation of law in “The Case of Internet Piracy”. Plus, there’s a nice framing story about eminent domain. Because I know I’d buy a lot more comics if the Justice League kept getting evicted so the city could build public works.

This quasi-propaganda dovetails nicely with another bit of quasi-propaganda detailed in the Threat Level article about how the MPAA can’t seem to make up it’s mind on the industry cost of piracy. This all comes back to some of the more contentious points from my review of (Canadian copyright reform bill) C-61 – especially that (IMHO) trying to affix an “industry damage value” to piracy is junk science at best.

I don’t understand what’s the problem with quantifying piracy infringement (for the purpose of legal proceedings) by taking what the pirates are actually charging for pirated works and multiplying it by the number of infringements. Since (in the US) the magic number (to charge an infringer with criminal copyright violation) is generally $2,500 – any pirate worth taking down is going to be over that limit, even if you valuated each disc at a dollar or two. As always coming up with magic numbers to somehow imply that each home-burned DVD sold out of some guys basement is somehow worth over three thousand dollars of industry revenue just serves to scapegoat general industry decline and hide real actual industry issues from it’s membership (record labels, I’m talking to you).

So propaganda on two fronts. At least the first instance gave us some catchy art.