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Sue Her Pantsuit Off

Radley Balko points to a story of the RIAA suing a man for ripping his own legally purchased CDs onto his own legally purchased computer. Of course, the music industry would not be in a position to make the fantastical … Read More

By / December 31, 2007

Radley Balko points to a story of the RIAA suing a man for ripping his own legally purchased CDs onto his own legally purchased computer. Of course, the music industry would not be in a position to make the fantastical claim that copyright law governs what people do with their own private property, were it not for the industry's tied-at-the-hip servants and coddlers in Congress, who have passed draconian (though largely ineffectual) legislation to curtail individual liberty in extraordinary ways in deference to intellectual property claims. Against that backdrop, Radley poses some very pertinent questions:

Back in 2006, entertainment industry darling Hillary Clinton told the press she had the Beatles on her iPod. Since the Beatles had not yet licensed their music to iTunes or any other MP3 site, the only way she could have gotten them onto her iPod would have been by ripping a CD. I wonder, does RIAA have the stones to take Hillary to court? And if not, why not?

The answers, in order, are no, and because neither Hillary nor the RIAA believes the law she co-sponsored and they lobbied for applies to her. Here is an example, contrary to my counterintuitive case of a few days ago, of how problematic and corrosive hypocrisy in government can be. Clearly, Hillary Clinton does not believe she should be subject to the kinds of invasive, abusive, humiliating, and financially destructive treatment her courtiers in the entertainment industry are all too happy to subject her constituents to. Why then, apart from a naked ambition to bring in campaign cash and endorsements from Hollywood, does she believe her own constituents should be treated like criminals and ruined financially for making perfectly reasonable use of media?

Perhaps an enterprising team of lawyers and journalists should begin a lobbying campaign among federal prosecutors and judges to have Hillary Clinton investigated for violations of the INDUCE Act and related federal law — she herself provided an admission of guilt, never mind probable cause for suspicion.

Hillary Clinton's hypocrisy in her use of digital media, to be sure, doesn't hold a candle to the hypocrisy virtually every single elected office-holder wallows in when it comes to drug laws. Most of them have used illegal drugs, many have lied about their illegal drug use, and all of them have friends, family, colleagues, and role models who have used illegal drugs. Barack Obama's name has been thrown around recently in connection with the Clinton campaign's disgusting efforts to portray him as a crack dealer. There is, however, an unmentioned cocaine scandal in which he is deeply culpable, and that is his belief that current cocaine users should be incarcerated for doing something that is inherently harmless to anyone but themselves, and as his example proves, can be harmless period.*

I'm not sure exactly what Hillary Clinton has copped to about her own drug history (if she denies she had one, that's frankly not believable), but even if she spent the 60s and 70s living like a nun, does she believe Bill Clinton should have gone to jail for using drugs? Does John Edwards believe that not locking up Bill Clinton "sends the wrong message to our kids"? Do the Republican candidates believe George W. Bush should have sat out the Vietnam War in penitentiary instead of the national guard? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then how dare they suggest any of the rest of us belong in prison for making private decisions that are no one's business but our own?

*I should say, in Obama's defense, that within the tight constraints of what's acceptable to say about drugs, Obama's views are fairly enlightened. But if the "audacity of hope" and the "fierce urgency of now" amount to anything, shouldn't they include the audacity to say what's blatantly true about the insanity and injustice of current drug laws? Deep down, Obama probably knows that drug criminalization is wrong — but it's foolish to expect him ever to act on that belief.

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