Justin Bieber went off on Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on Friday, slamming her proposed legislation imposing criminal penalties for copyright violations on the internet and saying that she should go to prison. He said, “Whoever she is, she needs to know that I’m saying she needs to be locked up, put away in cuffs.”
He added, “People need to have the freedom…people need to be able to sing songs. I just think that’s ridiculous.”
He was asked if it was all right with him if fans sang his own songs on the Internet. He replied, “Are you kidding me? I check YouTube all the time and watch people singing my songs. I think it’s awesome.”
The interview can be heard here
Although Klobuchar’s office denied that her legislation would affect Bieber, the senator’s staff seems unaware that Bieber got his start covering other people’s songs and uploading the performances to YouTube. The bill, if passed, would not only make that illegal but would make it a felony, not just a misdemeanor.
See Fight for the Future‘s press release.
Copyright in the United States was conceived by the Founding generation as something that should last for a few years and give the originator a reward for originality: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Extending it to a century and allowing endless extensions, as was done by Congress at the bidding of the Disney Corp., actually discourages innovation and creativity. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court is also in the back pocket of the corporations, and accepted the silly argument that anything slightly less than infinite extensions of copyright is compatible with the constitutional language about “limited times.”
Bieber knew exactly what he was saying, which is that when he sang songs in copyright written by others and uploaded them as a child, under Klobuchar’s bill he’d have been in juvie instead of a global idol. His passion on the issue is admirable.
Our corporatocracy is annoying enough when it insists on usurping the public airwaves and then charging us for the privilege by pushing the bilge of commercials at us, or charges us for “packages” including monopoly-effect nonsense channels like Gardening instead of letting us order a la carte. But for it to seek to put us in jail for sampling things on the internet is just mean, and the last straw.
Almost all bloggers quote copyrighted works of others from time to time (I would argue that the authors and publishers are richly paid in resultant link traffic). Despite a provision for “fair use,” it is vague and there are no real protections if a corporation wants to go after a blogger for copyright infringement. Klobuchar is trying to put the whole blogosphere in jail, not just the people uploading their shower singing performances. (The RIAA has the same attitude to music as the Portuguese empire used to have to the world’s oceans– it all belongs to them and everyone has to pay for ever using it in any way).
If Klobuchar doesn’t realize the Draconian nature of her own bill, she doesn’t deserve to sit in the senate. And her staffers should stop lying about its consequences.
And, when Occupy Wall Street gets our money back from the 1%, it might consider addressing itself to the FCC on the issue of our stolen airwaves.