¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In Blake Edwards’ 1976 slapstick comedy “The Pink Panther Strikes Again,” the bumbling but supremely self-confident Chief Inspector Clouseau (played by Peter Sellers) gathers the residents of a posh English estate together in a room, Agatha Christie-style, in the mistaken belief that one of them is an accomplice to murder. With typical Clouseau aplomb, the inspector manages to get his hand stuck in the gauntlet of a suit of armor, which has a mace attached to it. As he conducts his inquiries, a bee buzzes past Clouseau’s head, and in a failed attempt to swat it, he reduces a beautiful piano sitting in the corner of the room to smithereens. Mrs. Leverlilly, the housekeeper, protests:
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Mrs. Leverlilly: You ruined that piano!
Clouseau: What is the price of one piano, compared to the terrible crime that has been committed here?
Mrs. Leverlilly: But that’s a priceless Steinway!
Clouseau: Not any more.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 In his exaggeratedly outsized response to a small, if elusive, problem, his misplaced suspicions of the people around him, his unswerving faith in its own rectitude, and his complete disregard for the consequences of his actions, Chief Inspector Clouseau is the perfect avatar of the piracy crusade. No matter how deeply their proposed laws and policies undermine civil liberties, impede market innovation, and enable criminal fraud and political repression, the music and film industries manage to justify them in the name of preventing unlicensed copying. “What is the price of one freedom,” they ask, “compared to the terrible crime that has been committed here?”
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Ironically, the antipiracy agenda rarely achieves its stated goals – a fact that is beginning to achieve some recognition in policy circles. Analyses show that high-profile shutdowns and lawsuits against services like Grokster and Megaupload failed to stop online sharing, and may only have increased P2P activity overall. The much-heralded HADOPI law in France has been called a “failure” by the French culture minister. After signing ACTA, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk declined to ratify it, arguing that his earlier support had been a “mistake.” Soon thereafter, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject the treaty, which it had signed (along with 22 of its member states) less than a year earlier.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Despite these signs that the tide may be turning, the piracy crusade still has a significant amount of inertia, and a broad support base within both private industry and government, fueled by a continuing torrent of lobbyist expenditures. In my next and final chapter, I will discuss some of the ways in which resistance to the piracy crusade is growing among the general population, and outline some alternative approaches that have promoted by both activists and lawmakers. Finally, I will conclude with some thoughts about the future of democracy and intellectual property as technological and cultural innovation continue to accelerate.