NBC Lawyer: Copyright Infringement Is A More Important Law Enforcement Priority Than Fraud, Burglary And Bank-Robbing

Meet NBC/Universal general counsel Rick Cotton. He told a press conference that,

“Our law enforcement resources are seriously misaligned. If you add up all the various kinds of property crimes in this country, everything from theft, to fraud, to burglary, bank-robbing, all of it, it costs the country $16 billion a year. But intellectual property crime runs to hundreds of billions [of dollars] a year.”

Cotton is the Chairman of something called the Coalition Against Counterfieting and Piracy and is “spearheading” a new effort by the MPAA and and the RIAA called, “Campaign to Protect America.”

The campaign’s agenda, among other things, seeks a new “IP Enforcement Coordinator” within the White House.

“We’re having intensive consultations with the leadership in Congress, and we’ll be consulting closely with the appropriate committee chairman to try to put the agenda into the appropriate legislative vehicles,” Cotton said.

Cotton is talking to your congresspeople, are you? —MEGHANN MARCO

MPAA, others call for new anti-piracy laws [ContentAgenda via BoingBoing]
(Photo: swanksalot)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Buran says:

    Sorry, asshole. Crimes that actually result in injury, trama (physical and mental both) and death take priority over the fact that you don’t think your billions in profits a year are enough.

    Get off my planet, scum.

  2. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    This story has nothing to do with helping consumers or consumer problems. People complained yesterday about the TSA story, but I thought that you could make a case for that one.

    This one? No.

  3. nucleotide says:

    What!? They police are using their resources to protect the little guy, individual citizens? How dare they! They should solely be for the use of our corporate overlords.

  4. Fry says:

    @ Seth:
    As a taxpayer, you are a “customer” of your country. You pay for their services. For someone to want to change what the law enforcement priorities are affects you as a taxpayer and as someone paying for those services. So yes, in a way this DOES have to do with consumerism.

    If someone can explain that better than I, please do.

  5. trecool95 says:

    “billions [of dollars] a year” is only their bloated estimate. Copyright/trademark lawyers tend to always put a higher value on everything. Especially when that value isn’t exactly tangible.

  6. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    “Campaign to Protect America”???

    They should rename it to the Campaign To Extort Americans. It seems that the RIAA and MPAA are only protecting their pockets here.

    It’s really sad to know that illegally downloading a cd on the internet has a much higher penalty than shoplifting a cd at the store.

  7. Skiffer says:

    Granted, though – I would like to see China start paying for some of America’s IP…

  8. mopar_man says:


    I was thinking the same thing. Murders, burglary, kidnapping, etc. are ALL more important than a few songs and movies being stolen. If you want to make line your pockets even moreso than they are now, how about getting some actual talent? That might sell a few more albums.

  9. ShadowFalls says:

    These companies have yet to prove actual losses regarding “IP Theft”. When compared with other crimes they actually have measurable losses which can be confirmed as there is proof of such a loss instead of imaginary figures.

    The idiocy of going on to suggest that the problems the RIAA and MPAA face are more important than ones which can completely ruin someone’s life. Let us not forget that the RIAA and MPAA are just shifting blame on whose fault it really is, in reality it is their own fault for the problems they face. Instead of embracing technology, they have butted heads with it every time. Then when they get up to speed, they put ridiculous restrictions that deter people’s interests.

    Let us look at perspective. A person downloads a music album, would they have bought the album anyway? Well, hard to say, no way of knowing. In alot of cases, money has as much to do with it as other factors. If the person couldn’t afford to buy it, would they buy it if they couldn’t download it, pretty certain the answer is no there… But the RIAA and MPAA consider this a loss, when there is no actual loss as there was nothing they would have ever made from it.

    Looking at such a perspective in which they judge their numbers, you can see they are quite simply way off.

  10. Skiffer says:

    @mopar_man: Cotton was talking about property crime, not violent crime. Granted, some property crimes may include violence…but his argument was about non-violent crimes.

  11. winnabago says:

    “im in ur congris, bribin ur ficials”

    Ah, forget it….

  12. Youthier says:

    If the police left people steal my money, property, and identity, I’m not going to have the time or resources to purchase your intellectual property, assholes.

  13. RogueSophist says:


    Just as many otherwise upstanding consumers prefer to believe that theft of intellectual property (the value of which “isn’t exactly tangible,” but just as fungible) doesn’t warrant enforcement and penalties comparable to that of traditional property.

    It cuts both ways — remorseless infringers on one side (who very likely do create losses many times greater than those associated with traditional theft crimes) and douchebag recording/film-industry execs on the other (who belittle losses associated with traditional property crimes to get their points across).

    The truth, as usual, is somewhere in the middle. The recording and film industries are legitimately concerned about infringement. But they also create a “culture of infringement” with severely bloated valuation and heavy-handed (and deceptive) enforcement tactics.

    The real point here, of course, is that this guy’s a cock.

  14. banned says:

    Hey police, better stick to robberies because you will NEVER stop me from infringing on copyright, and then posting how to do it on sites like this!!! Get a life NBC

  15. Kaien says:

    * increasing investigative and enforcement resources at DHS and DOJ, including dedicated, institutionalized IP resources in U.S. attorneys offices;

    DHS, isn’t that department of Homeland security? Is it just me or are they just really pressing the terrorism thing for the longest time…?

    * strengthening enforcement of counterfeiting laws at U.S. borders;

    I’d be more concerned over money counterfeiting than a simple album that doesn’t even reach pass the borders, where it is likely where they are accounting their huge numbers of “losses” for.

    * increasing penalties for trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods;

    Aren’t the penalties worse than what rapists (2nd offenders) get already? How much worse can these penalties get, life in prison? Capital punishment?

    * improving federal coordination of IP enforcement efforts;

    I could’ve sworn they are already doing this, especially illegaly.

    * reforming civil and judicial processes to combat organized criminal trafficking; and

    How about this takes place for people selling women instead of children downloading albums and giving them to each other? >_>

    * consumer education.

    I thought they’ve been doing this for years and made piracy more rampant by letting the uninformed know it exists…

    Time to write to congress…

  16. andrewsmash says:

    Ugh – another corporate stooge. Turning on translator:

    (whining voice) But we should be making more money! It’s not fair! Those dirty computer hackers aren’t paying as much as we think they should for our products. But we don’t want to make them cheaper. Our stockholders will get mad at us. We serve no other purpose than to make rich people richer and if we can’t do that, we’ll get fired.

    Translator off. Well, there you go. Worthless sack

  17. Charles Duffy says:


    Just as many otherwise upstanding consumers prefer to believe that theft of intellectual property (the value of which “isn’t exactly tangible,” but just as fungible) doesn’t warrant enforcement and penalties comparable to that of traditional property.

    I think that’s a perfectly reasonable belief. I say this even as an individual whose job consists of creating intellectual propery, and whose potential wealth is almost entirely in the form of warrants to buy stock in a company which creates intellectual property. (I’m also one of those pedants who thinks that “intellectual property” is a misnomer to start with; copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets are very different animals, and lumping them together leads to sloppy thinking).

    You steal a physical thing from me, and I lose that physical thing. You make an unauthorized copy of something on which I hold copyright, and I lose my potential ability to collect a licensing fee on that copy. Is this a victimless crime? Of course not! Does it impact me as severely as it would have had I lost possession or use of that which was “stolen”? No. Is it thus reasonable to consider this a lower law-enforcement priority than cases in which the victim loses not only the ability to make a transaction fee but also the use of the thing of value which is stolen? Absolutely.

    To put it a bit differently — would I be pissed if someone copied my employer’s database and started selling a product based on it as their own? Absolutely. As much so as if they had broken into our server room and stolen the servers with our master copy of that data? Absolutely not.

    That said, penalties comparable to the theft of traditional property would be one thing. We’ve seen Congress enact penalties far more severe than the theft of traditional property, and that’s just bluntly wrong.

  18. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    So, in other words, the police shouldn’t be concerned if somebody steals my car, but I should rot in jail for ripping my own CDs to MP3s.

    I’m glad Mr. Cotton has his priorities right.

  19. axiomatic says:


    Do not reward these idiots with purchasing their product. Write the artist or show that you want and tell them that you will not buy through this cartel of corporations.

    I can not tell you how much more fun I am having with music now that I support my local Houston music scene. On top of that, I control who gets paid! Guess what, the artist gets maybe 80%+ while a little makes it to the venue (bar, stage, whatever)

    Everyone wins!

  20. sinclair__ says:

    That hundreds of billions figure is a joke a best. Here is how that number is arrived at for software:

    1) X00,000 computers are sold in China every year

    2) Windows XP is installed on y% of all machines. Office is installed on z% of all machine, etc. Therefore, each machine should have $x,xxx worth of software installed. Ignore the fact that no one in the US pays retail, much less people in china.

    3) Microsoft only collected $yyy per machine in china last year. Therefore, $x,xxx – $yyy = $z,zzz was lost to piracy per machine in China last year.

    4) Ignore the fact that $z,zzz is 6-8 months salary for the person buying the machine. Ignore the fact the people in China are poor (good middle class salary is around $250 per month), and assume that if this evil piracy were stopped, people would shell out 2x engagement ring type of money for software rather than switching to a cheaper alternative (like Linux, for example)

    5) Claim $z,zzz * X00,000 in losses due to piracy.

    6) profit. Er, I mean, lobby.

    And that’s just software. DVD calculations are just as ridiculous.

  21. Jaysyn was banned for: https://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    Want to avoid the RIAA? Use the RIAA Radar. They have some seriously good stuff on here.


    Also, you guys can bitch all you want about IP laws, but until you start contacting your reps, the status quo will stay.

    I have, why don’t you?

  22. justarep says:

    I’m waiting for the day that cops will just start going door to door with a search-and-seizure warrant for every home that has an Internet connection on the SUSPICION that they’re pirating things. If not…well, they’ll get their computer back in a week or two with a government-issued rootkit (along with anything a tinfoil-wearing person can imagine that would dial up the NSA or any other agency) to prevent any chance of infractions.

    Thank Dog I live in Canada–the MPAA and RIAA can suck on my cable modem.

  23. Jesse in Japan says:

    With theft, fraud, and burglary we’re talking about money that actually does physically exist. With copyright infringement, we’re talking about money that potentially, hypothetically would exist if every case of infringement were occurring at the expense of the sale of a CD or DVD.

  24. philipbarrett says:

    How can they quantify these numbers? Hypothetically speaking (of course), let’s say that today I allowed a friend to copy 4 albums of artists he/she had never heard of. Under the RIAA math they have lost $X in revenue. However in actuality they lost nothing (since the friend was unaware of their existence) but might have gained sales by exposing my hypothetical friend to new music.

    Oh crap, how much progressive dance music is released by the RIAA signatories anyway?

  25. Havok154 says:

    Well..I’m speechless

  26. Kashell says:

    *sigh* I just wish our politicians would stop worrying so much about where little green pieces of paper go and more about what things are killing people.

  27. therustedearth says:

    The ‘Campaign to Protect America?’ Protect America from what? Those dangerous pirates/kids downloading music and AVIs on their parents’ computers and college laptops? Are they are ‘grave and serious threat to America’s safety?’
    I love the jargon these red-blooded Washington hillbillies come up with.

  28. erica.blog says:

    Actually, intellectual property rights CAN be important. The important ones involve counterfeit toothpaste with antifreeze, however, not teens trying to cheat record labels…

  29. du2vye says:

    “Protect Amercia”?

    Why doesn’t it sound like that’s what they want to do when ordinary people could be put in jail for life? Who pays that bill?

    Why don’t they go after people in Congress for downloading songs to their IPods (which the RIAA is also against)?

    The only tech advancements from the U.S. have been ones to stop innovation and disable products so now the U.S. is lagging behind the rest of the world.

    Do they ever think about going after the large data banks breaches that leak personal information and contribute to identity theft? I think even more money is at stack there — but wait, that’s doesn’t affect corporations.

    Who does out government work for anyway?