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BIDEN THEIR TIME

Senate Committee Will Add Digital Piracy to List of Things We Harass Other Countries About
Just what we need—more politicians jumping into the music fray.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden (D-Del.) will oversee a hearing tomorrow (2/12) on digital piracy, CNET reports. The occasion will also be marked by the release of SFRC's report on intellectual property around the world.

We haven't seen the report, but we have reason to believe that it says, in a nutshell, that we need to kick some booty around the globe to make those pissants respect our cultural imperialism—er, entertainment products.

Among those expected to testify at the hearings are RIAA ruler Hilary Rosen, MPAA head Jack Valenti and Microsoft exec Jeff Raikes. The three will later perform a musical skit titled "Piracy Is Bad, So Pass Some Damn Laws, or Something."

"Only by being vigilant in investigating and prosecuting those who steal intellectual property will we be successful in continuing the development of the music, software and entertainment industries, which employ so many people around the world," reads an excerpt from Biden's draft report not lifted from a speech by Neil Kinnock. "Please make all checks payable to the Re-Elect Biden Campaign. God Bless America."

Biden's report will urge making protection of intellectual property a higher priority in international relations. Which means big trouble for Iraqi merchants selling phony Celine Dion merchandise.

It's not entirely clear where Biden and the SFRC will draw the line in terms of defining piracy. Trafficking in unauthorized dupes of music and software CDs has reached epidemic proportions in some parts of the world—and a similar nightmare with DVDs seems imminent. Concern about mass sales of bootlegs is behind much of the urgency of the report.

Yet some entertainment-industry advocates would like to add online file-sharing to the definition of piracy—and this is a far more controversial area.

In any case, the hearing represents a rare opportunity to hear from representatives of industries that depend on intellectual property protections—and to blame all our problems, once again, on foreigners.

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