Justin Bieber on Sen. Klobuchar’s Criminalization of the Internet: She should be put away in Cuffs

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.

19 Responses

  1. That would be impossible to enforce. Millions of people put up youtube videos every minute. It would crash all the courts’ computers.

    • Nonsense.

      If America has excelled at one thing in the last century, it has been at the art of punishing and killing each other.

      We’d find a way to enforce it. Trust me.

  2. Perhaps, in addition to the immediate goal of transforming ideas into commodities, subject to title,there is an alternative agenda of tying up the internet,encumbering it with legislation so that anyone contributing to it is afraid they’ll be punished.

  3. Absolutely right. Songs (as a good example) are not only property, they are a society’s developing tradition, a part of its heart added by each new generation. The corporatists want to own everything forever, meaning they want to own the tradition and make people pay to hear their own tradition. They want property in the national heart. The only reason you hear young people and locals play jazz standards to the degree that they do is that they ignore the law that says you must pay for each performance. It is a mean world when the songs important to a nation are owned and held hostage for money. This goes far beyond the original intent of copyrights. Exploding technology has made this a far more complex issue than anyone can deal with and the global society is increasingly falling behind in judging the moral and ethical conundrums of technological advances, not catching up. In that vacuum, control has defaulted to corporate law which has no interest in compassion, tradition, or national heritage. Corporate personhood is not human and holds no human values, only the guiding rules of profit and survival at any cost.

  4. When a singer covers a song, it is not a breach of copyright. But the writer of the song is owed royalties.
    A more practical bill would require Youtube to pay writer’s royalties on every view/play of a song. (It might be up to the writer to alert Youtube that they are the owners of the song.)

    BTW, the attack on “corporations” is a mask for unwillingness to reward writers for their work.

    • Thank you Mr. Record Label.

      We don’t have to pay to recite poetry, so why are songs different? Because of your lobbyists.

      Singers are most often screwed by the labels and anyway can make money via concerts.

      Your whole system depends on theft of the public airwaves plus corrupt payola.

    • BTW, the attack on “corporations” is a mask for unwillingness to reward writers for their work.

      Bullshit.

      It’s corporate welfare at its most vile.

      How come if I write a song about curing cancer, the intellectual claim may be enforced long after my death, while if I actually CURE cancer, I have a claim for about fifteen to twenty years.

      That distinction promotes *what*, exactly?

      It’s a totally arbitrary and bizarre system. It only makes sense when viewed through the lens of corporate kleptocracy.

  5. This is not a question of money lost, it is a question of the potential to make more money, lost. So, if we make it illegal to perform songs for You tube,should we make it illegal to perform songs at the local school talent show? How about singing in the car, with friends listening in? The amount of money made from a single hit doesn’t seem to be enough. Selling freedom seems to be the theme of this legislation. Toto, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore.

    • It *is* technically illegal to sing copyright songs at the school talent show. If RIAA knows about it they will want a cut.

  6. You hit the nail on the head. The public airwaves have been stolen from us. I hope someone in Washington is listening to you.

  7. One of the conditions of the Australia – USA ‘free trade’ deal was Australia had to extend the copyright expiration period from 50 to 70 years after the author’s death.

    The push to discourage innovation and creativity by US corporations is worldwide.

  8. “Intellectual Property” [sic] long ago became destructive to the progress of the arts and sciences. It now performs an explicitly regressive task, retarding creativity and preventing change in order to help the 1% hold onto the status quo.

    The framers of the US Constitution eliminated all other monopolies as a matter of principle, and made a terrible blunder in exempting this form of monopoly.

    Much of the damage could have been contained by expanding Fair Use and explicitly protecting things like open source software development. However, this new form of “property” has now become a battlefield in the culture wars, and victory now seems likely only through full and complete delegitimization of “IP” in all of its forms.

    • Intellectual Property is essential for aspiring writers and artists in order to “brand” themselves and hopefully make money on an original idea or story. Its elimination would just open a different loophole for corporate manipulation. Would eliminating the laws protecting IP create an unfair and engorged Public Domain?

      Also, I invented Spongebob Squarepants and no one paid me.

  9. I’m sorry she wound up on this side of the debate and I wonder if she really knew what she was getting behind. She seems like a good soul and a long dedicated liberal. Early supporter of Al Franken, etc.

    I have a feeling she was hooked into “stopping online piracy” ie illegal downloading of music (“downloading is killing music, etc), as some way to protect small musicians.

    This by itself is a complex issue relating the nature and evolution of media, especially media as modern art.

    But apparently she got behind something that went way beyond that having to do with general copyrights, not all of which should exist, and the laws regulating them which are widely misused.

  10. I don’t think this is class or ideological issue as much as a generational one. We all remember Ted Stevens trying to explain the “series of tubes.” We all remember John McCain explaining that he is “learning to get on myself.” I once say Ted Kennedy hosting a local cable access show in which he referred to his guest’s “er, ah, web numbah,” meaning internet address.

    The people governing this country are considerably older and less tech-savvy than the population as a whole. They are attempting to apply old principles to new technologies that they don’t understand very well. This problem is only going to get worse as the median age and the rate of technological advancement increase over the next couple of decades.

    It’s a real problem, one predicted quite presciently in the book “Future Shock” by Alvin Toffler in 1972.

  11. I’ve met Amy before. She seemed smarter than this. It’s quite sad that she might be one of those anti-piracy sellouts. Hopefully this was just an oversight on her part. I have nothing else to fall back upon except that Republicans are usually much worse in such matters.

    Internet piracy is a solution to a problem.

    The MPAA and RIAA spend wheelbarrows full of cash on lobbying to tell their sad sad of how they aren’t making as many millions profit as their funky calculations say.

    It is tiresome and ongoing, but the war is already won. Piracy has won already. It’s won because it beats force-to-pay by every metric. It’s free, inspires creativity, faster, easier, more enduring and it doesn’t support afore mentioned evil acronyms. But really, truly, it won the moment some brilliant mind called data-sharers “pirates”. Never give your enemies labels cool enough that they will start producing t-shirts.

  12. Bieber is right,lock her away,but don’t stop there,there’s a whole Congress that needs to be put in irons.

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