MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Well, now that this new law calls for a high level official in charge of copyright issues, is it time for downloaders to head for the hills. Linda Holmes blogs about pop culture for NPR, and she has some doubts about the ability of the new enforcer to do much enforcing.

LINDA HOLMES: Beware music copiers and furtive downloaders of obscure reality shows; the Pirate Czar is coming. The Pirate Czar will protect giant media companies from, well, you. The job is more commonly called the Intellectual Property Czar. Snappier than the official name, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, but not as good as Pirate Czar, which is more fun - and more menacing.

The Pirate Czar would be part of the new inter-agency intellectual property enforcement advisory committee. They are in charge of the joint strategic plan against counterfeiting and infringement. And that is meant to stop you from illegally downloading episodes of "Dancing With The Stars." Unfortunately, unauthorized file sharing is wildly entrepreneurial and adapts with catlike agility.

You know what's not going to adapt with catlike agility? The inter-agency intellectual property enforcement advisory committee's joint strategic plan against counterfeiting and infringement. It's the way of the Internet to move quickly. It's the way of joint strategic plans to be five years out of date. Forming a committee to write a strategic plan to battle Internet piracy is a little like forming a committee to write a strategic plan to battle an alien invasion. You probably don't understand the threat. By the time your plan is written, you will have already lost.

And as appealing as combat looks, the answer may well lie in diplomacy. There's no question that, unless creative people get paid for content, there won't be any. But there's not much reason to hope that the long-term solution lies in strategic planning by the Pirate Czar, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. Nevertheless, feel free to wish the Pirate Czar good luck and to throw in a hearty yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum. And don't worry, that's in the public domain.

BLOCK: Linda Holmes writes the pop culture blog Monkey See at npr.org. Once upon a time, she also worked as an attorney. You can comment on her essay at the opinion section of npr.org.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.