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A Clear Sense of Priorities

This has been a tiring week for more than one of us, obviously...I don't have kids (unlike Kevvyd, who has totally adorable kids, although I am surrogate dad for an absolutely amazing 3-year-old), but I helped birth some legal amendments this week. By the end of the day on Wednesday, I was convinced that Shakespeare was a very smart man - with one exception, killing all the lawyers was a reasonable idea.

Anyway, that's not what I'm here to talk about.

Have you ever heard something that only seeps in later, after the source is unavailable (hence no links)? Something I heard this week, I believe in reference to the U.S., troubles me, and reminded me of something I learned many years ago. What I heard was this:

There is a more severe penalty for downloading music than for possessing or distributing child pornography.
Is anyone else as bothered by this as I am? Admittedly, I can't cite a source for this, and for that I apologize - we are nothing if not diligent here at Blevkog - but this is more visceral than factual.
This reminded me of something I learned in High School, which struck me as odd then, in what seems like the Pliestocene Age. The penalty, at the time (the 80's), for arson, was more severe than that for infanticide.

Let these two things sink in.

I often start paragraphs with the phrase what is wrong with us as a society, and this is no different: What is wrong, where are our priorities when protecting the rights of property owners and huge multimillion-dollar music publishing companies, not to mentioned spoiled artists, is more important than the lives of children?

In the case of the Internet, nobody who was making laws as recently as the mid to late 80's could even conceive of it (among other things, hence my stressful week). The Internet has been a boon to many, providing a world of information (and opinion - hi there!) at their fingertips, but as we have seen demonstrated in the past, any benefit of this type has a dark side, any group of well-meaning techno geeks are often followed in close order by those who will exploit technology for personal gain, to the detriment of the people the technology is designed to serve. When the Japanese finally develop robots capable of helping the disabled or the elderly to maintain their independence, someone will be along in the next 30 days with software that will make the robot polish some lonely guy's knob. Voila! Prostitution will survive as long as the batteries do.

I met my wife through the Internet, and it was one of the most fun experiences of my life getting to know her through messaging, then meeting her, etc. Without the Internet, I never would have known that someone that has so much in common with me (or at least is willing to overlook and tolerate a LOT) was just on the other side of town. Groups (like this one, for example) provide a forum for discussion and debate.

But, it also makes it possible for the creepy loner who never knew people felt the same way as he did about the neighborhood kids (or even worse, his own), to find the rest of his demented tribe of pervert mutants and discuss strategies and share pictures. To speed up the process of gratifying sick appetites, while destroying lives and scarring the psyches of innocents.

Read Masha's story to find out what I'm talking about.

I don't have a solution, or an answer. I don't know that there are answers, at least not in the way we like them. Not neat and tidy. I have nothing but respect and admiration for police forces around the world who subject themselves to images of horror and degradation to bring these people to justice. I know I wouldn't be strong enough.
Isn't it the least we can do to provide an appropriate penalty when they catch these evil bastards, and let kids know they are more important than anything Metallica has ever recorded?
Please, lawmakers, tell me that they are.

The good news is, however, that Masha's assailant got 75 years... a sentence the Canadian judicial system needs to pay attention to. Stiffer sentences for all crimes related to child pornography are vital in this day and age.

Reality check: In Canada, available punishment of child pornography offences is definitely more severe than copyright infringement, unless your idea of justice is a financial penalty. In the USA, the comparison is a little less clear, but on balance, available sentences for child pornography are heavier.

A relatively quick search of the internet provided the following:

Penalty for making / distribution / possession of child pornography in Canada:

making : summary ( 3 mo / 18 mo ) indictable ( 1 yr / 10 yr )
distrib: summary ( 3 mo / 18 mo ) indictable ( 1 yr / 10 yr )
possess: summary ( 14 da / 18 mo ) indictable ( 45 da / 5 yr )

www.canlii.org/ca/sta/c-46/sec163.1.html

Penalty for copyright infringement in Canada:

laws.justice.gc.ca/en/C-42/230536.html

In Canada, this is a civil matter, and punishment for infringement is more of the fair compensation (?and cease and desist?) variety.

In the USA, for child pornography offences:

making : ( 15 yr / 30 yr )
distrib: ( 5 yr / 20 yr ) - no distinction between distribution and possession?
possess: ( 5 yr / 20 yr )

www.usdoj.gov/criminal/ceos/childporn_stats.html

Penalty for copyright infringement:
www.usdoj.gov/criminal/cybercrime/ipmanual/03ipma.htm#III.D.

1st time offendor: up to 5 years and a fine of up to $250,000
repeat offendor: up to 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000

If no financial motivation proven,

1st time offendor: up to 3 years and a fine of up to $250,000
repeat offendor: up to 6 years and a fine of up to $250,000

Thanks, MRx, for the detailed information. As I said, it was more of a visceral reaction to the comment than an examination of the topic. I appreciate you going to all that work to check it out and share it.

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