Rick Boucher on the DoJ’s Role in Copyright Education

Or the lack thereof — Justice Department as antipiracy shill?

In response to peer-to-peer file swappers, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that would place the Department of Justice at the head of a public education campaign about the niceties of copyright law.

While I applaud effective deterrence against the use of peer-to-peer technology to commit piracy, I find this proposed legislative response severely misguided on numerous levels.

The job of the Justice Department is to prosecute crimes–not give lectures and educate the public. In order to launch an effective campaign on the proper use of copyrighted material, the department would first have to educate itself. Given its crime-fighting orientation, I have little confidence that it would ever adequately explain public doctrines such as “fair use” or other proper uses of copyrighted material.

[…] In short, the proposed legislation adopts a fundamentally wrong-headed approach to copyright education and piracy prevention. In my view, an effective and appropriate education campaign should come from those who would benefit most from it–the music and movie industries. In fact, certain companies have begun to do just that, and I support their efforts.