The Obama Administration has announced a massive piracy crackdown this week in attempts to deter people from downloading pirated music and movies. Now as much as I don’t care for the RIAA and MPAA for countless reasons, at the same time I don’t feel like everybody should be allowed to download anything and everything that they want without paying somebody for it. The whole played out argument of “it’s not theft because I am only making a digital copy of a file and thus never depriving the owner of their copy” in order to justify never paying for anything is just stupid. Anyways, I did not intend for this post to be another endless rant on the never ending piracy debate, but rather wanted to point out an extremely disturbing provision found in the new bill, called “imminent infringement.” From the article:
“It also implements an interesting provision called “imminent infringement”, which allows the government to charge people who they think might be about to infringe with a civil offense (for example if you searched “torrent daft punk”). This is among the first official “thought crime” provisions to be proposed by the U.S. government.”
Essentially, if you ever do a search for music or movies on Google with the keyword “torrent” as part of your query, you can be found liable of a civil offense, even if you don’t actually download any pirated material. Yeah, yeah, why would anybody search for “torrent daft punk” if they did not have the intention of downloading it illegally. Who knows, but that is not the point. The point is that no crime was ever actually committed. Period.
The fact that you can be charged with a crime for simply thinking of doing something, in other words a “thought crime” a la George Orwell’s book 1984 and the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report, is downright scary. We are certainly on the edge of a slippery slope if this provision goes into effect.