By Richard Menta 9/24/04
Yesterday California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that will require California file traders to wear the Star of David sewn to their lapels. If that comment sounds offensive then you have a sense of my reaction when I heard of the new state law that makes it a crime for that state's file traders to use a service like KaZaa or eDonkey without first supplying their emails to the state.
Maybe it is misfortunate that I use the above analogy because that will only give the record industry the ability to dismiss my comment by calling me an anti-semite or something when the opposite is true.
In both cases a powerful entity is using the government to bully a weaker one, imposing a law that forces the innocent to identify themselves in the open for easy identification and destruction. In Germany it was the Nazis, in California it is the copyright cartel.
Forcing file traders to tattoo themselves will make it easy for the likes of the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to persecute 12 year old girls, like Brianna LaHara, or 50 year-old school drivers like Nancy Davis, or financially teetering students like Charli Johnson.
California State Bill 1506 is now law. Now file traders can go to jail just for keeping their emails to themselves. The RIAA doesn't even have to file their usual charges of copyright infringement. They can save that for another trial.
You have to admit, the tactic is a cruelly clever one. They just needed a sympathetic statesman like Governor Schwarzenegger to push one through. The governor is indebted to the movie industry for the wealth and fame it gave him, Fame that made him an easy winner in a distraught California election recall. He is returning that favor, but sadly in a misguided way.
The entertainment industry now has an insider holding the most powerful office in the biggest state in the nation. So far Governor Schwarzenegger has proven to be an effective statesman, which is why this law passed so quickly and below the radar of non west coast Americans.
Governor Schwarzenegger is a politician and like all politicians he serves the powerful constituencies that give him support. What he just did is make it easier for corporate bullies to pick on individuals for doing what many pundits feel is nothing more than exercising their right of fair use.
They aren't the only ones being attacked through other's abuse of government.
There are the recent troubles of Yusuf Islam, the former Cat Stevens who was recently plucked from an airplane and arrested for deportation. I couldn't help but think of Charlie Chaplin who was likewise tossed out of this country in the 50s as a communist sympathizer.
Chaplin was the victim of McCarthy's bullying communist witch hunts that the Senator used as a vehicle to gain power and influence. It didn't matter that Chaplin raised a fortune in war bonds during WW I and II and was very loyal to his adopted country (even though sentiment prevented him from renouncing his citizenship from his native country England).
Like Chaplin, Yusuf Islam helped raise money for the victims of 911, but because he is an orthodox Islamic and has been critical of the US government since Vietnam he has been labeled a terrorist by someone in office and thrown on the "list" as a terrorist.
I'm sorry, I'm not convinced he presents a threat to this country and I find his recent appearance on that list dubious. If you want to talk about racism I suspect this makes a good example. And where is the powerful record industry with their political connections? For Yusuf Islam they are missing in action.
This only shows again how the record industry cares only for the corporate coffers and not for the artists whose creations they profit from or the consumers who buy those creations. If Cat Steven's old records sell big because of his public humiliation the record industry will make some good money.
As for Yusuf Islam all he seems destined to get from the record industry is a tiny check followed by a bill for artist development.
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