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August 30, 2005

Meanwhile, in non-Katrina news
Posted by Patrick at 01:16 PM *

Via BoingBoing: gosh, this sort of thing will earn the US and, specifically, Hollywood lots and lots of friends worldwide:

Q. What does the Motion Picture Association (MPA) have in common with the pre-revolutionary colonial British?

A. They get to use general warrants.

General search warrants are part of what caused the American Revolution. Now it’s the legal tool of choice for the movie industry in its war against copyright infringement—or at least, the tool of choice in Delhi, India.

According to this press release from the international arm of the more familiar Motion Picture Association of America, the MPA “has obtained a general search and seizure warrants order covering the entire city. The order permits police to search any premises suspected of containing pirated products, and permits officers to open locked premises without delay.”

These kinds of warrants are ripe for abuse. That’s why they’re prohibited in this country under the Fourth Amendment, which was prompted by British abuses of power during colonial times. The MPA has the right to go after those suspected of infringement all around the globe, but it should be ashamed of using tactics that ignore basic civil liberties.

Of course, they’re only brown people. It’s not like their rights matter, or as if they hold grudges or anything.

Remember, dignity and fairness are for white people. In New Delhi, just as in Fallujah, you gotta go door to door and kick ass.

Comments on Meanwhile, in non-Katrina news:
#1 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 02:18 PM:

I'm not sure who I'm more pissed at about this. The MPAA for asking for the the warrant, or the Indian government for granting it.

I sure hope there's an Indian equivalent of the EFF or ACLU fighting back against this, and some political party willing to make a stink.

#2 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 02:30 PM:

I'm equally pissed at both. Maybe more at the MPA for being so proud of this disgusting thing.

#3 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 02:41 PM:

The movie industry is trying to blame everyone else for its problems. I know people who aren't going to the movies, because the theaters are noisy, the prices are high, and the films are not very good. So of course it's all the result of pirated films and illegal DVDs.

It isn't much different from the record industry assuming that having a CD burner on your computer means that you're going to be pirating music. I think they finally figured that one out, but only after being (figuratively speaking) beaten over the head with a CD burner. But they still haven't learned that the public now knows how little the physical CD costs, so we can estimate how much is going to overhead of various kinds.

#4 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 02:50 PM:

I wonder if they'll try to do the same thing in China? My son spent 9 weeks in Beijing this summer and came home with 80 DVDs. For a laugh, read about it here.

#5 ::: Zed ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 03:05 PM:

This New York Times article was refreshing for actually crediting this summer's slump in ticket sales (9% down from last summer) not to evil Internet Pirates, but to bad movies.

#6 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 03:52 PM:

The annoying thing is that we would pay for DVDs if they were 1) reasonably priced for the cost they take to make and 2) available in a timely manner and format.

I for one, will not feel guilty if someone gives me a ripped-from-original-video version of Star Wars, because I *would* pay for it if I could get it on DVD in a non-butchered format.

The same if I could get the first season the cartoon Real Ghostbusters -- if they can DVDs of THUNDERCATS out, why can't they get the stuff I'm interested in?

#7 ::: M@ ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 04:20 PM:

In Canada, we pay a levee on every single blank CD or DVD we buy. Until recently, we had to pay a levee of up to $25 on the purchase of MP3 players (recently overturned by our supreme court).

This money was to be used to create a fund for supporting Canadian recording artists. Can you guess how much has actually gone to artists, two years later? Did you guess zero? If not, guess lower.

The assumption of guilt is the worst part of all this. The Canadian gov't (prodded along by our version of the RIAA) assumed that its citizens were stealing, and that's pretty bad. This case goes a huge step further, and is more than just a tax (not that an illegal tax isn't bad enough).

How can the US government export democracy if it can so easily forget a concept like habeas corpus?

#8 ::: Phil Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 04:22 PM:

DVDs are cheap enough here in New Zealand if you wait and keep checking the bargain bins. Or maybe I'm just extravagant - I reckon a DVD is worth twice the off-peak admission price to a movie theater, based on the number of times I'm likely to watch it and the possible resale value.

For me, as far as sci-fi (verb. sap.) is concerned, telly has won out over movies and provides the bigger experience. They seem to have stopped making it after 9/11 but there is still a ton of stuff from the nineties that I missed at the time. For example, since Friday I have watched nearly two seasons of SG-1 and now feel like I live there. This is not an experience I get from movies.

#9 ::: Didi ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 04:24 PM:

Wow. MPA actually managed to stoop to a new low in the post-Valenti era. That's actually rather impressive, in a sad, despicable kind of way. I can't seem to decide what they're exhibiting more of - evil or stupidity. Probably the latter.

And I definitely think the drop in tickets sales is all about the bad movies. As a part time critic, I can get free tickets to most movies. I think the only movie I wasn't going to write about that I actually went and saw in a press screening was Howl's Moving Castle.

#10 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 05:13 PM:

It isn't much different from the record industry [...]

Pop quiz: what do the managements of Very Large Record Companies, Very Large Film Studios, and several Very Large Publishing Houses have in common?

#11 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 05:16 PM:

Besides being the same people?

#12 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 07:26 PM:

They all have the same first and middle names?

#13 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 08:21 AM:

The slump in ticket sales this year wasn't just because this summer's movies were lousy (hey, I saw Fantastic Four and Stealth), but because last summer's movies were lousy too.

#14 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 12:24 PM:

For what it's worth, I saw this yesterday and forwarded it to an Indian friend of mine. She responded:

Wow. I hadn't even heard of that. But it does seem to be true.

It isn't legal but it isn't hard to find a star-struck magistrate who'd issue the warrant. Sooner, rather than later, it would be challenged in court, and if the High Court doesn't do anything, the Supreme Court would declare it invalid and chastise the magistrate and the police.

But in the meanwhile, it must have caused a temporary shutdown of a few market places in Delhi. Shouldn't take too long for things to settle down again though.

This order must have been issued after 4 pm on Thursday, which would mean that the police could use it until Monday morning [the courts being shut on Friday, Saturday and Sunday] without any challenge. That is usually the way things operate here. I am not sure but I expect that people must have already protested on Monday morning.

Will try to find out more details. :)

#15 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 12:25 PM:

M@ - you've been reading too much about New Orleans, I think. ;-)

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