According to a report from Ars Technica, St. Louis has received a grant from the federal government with the goal of using city officers to investigate online piracy. Sure there are constant fire fights happening blocks from where your family sleeps, but somewhere there’s a 12-year-old downloading an illegal copy of “Madagascar 3” and that’s clearly a more important goal for our already thin police force.
In St. Louis, David Marzullo, a police spokesperson told Ars that the city would be using its grant money to form a “area task force consisting of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to share resources and increase enforcement of existing state and federal IP laws.”
Ars Technica did get a copy of the grant application, and included in the 10 page document is admission that this is less important than the violent crime problem most districts deal with daily.
“Unfortunately, district detectives and uniformed patrol officers are overwhelmed with calls for service that are considered more serious in nature (robbery, assaults, burglaries, motor vehicle thefts) where there is an immediate threat of danger to the public,” the grant application continues. “District detectives must prioritize assignments and the districts do not have the staffing or expertise to pro-actively investigate intellectual property crimes occurring in their districts.”
Seems like a better move would have been to just write “Ok, so in general, things are going all that well. Can you put some money in this envelope we included and send it back to us? And we’ll promise to try and capture a murderous drug dealer or two and just tell the record labels they were planning to download the new Jay Z record illegally.” and send that in. Might not have gotten it, but at least you wouldn’t look like you want to spend your time turing in 9-year-olds downloading Cee Lo Green records to the record labels.
So what’s the end result? Two STLPD detectives will be transfered to the new “Cyber Crimes Section” to work on this new initiative. The STLPD is bound by the grant to also “increase the number of investigations resulting in the arrest, seizure and the presentation of evidence…for those persons responsible for knowingly distributing copyrighted software, movies, or music over the Internet.” and it will be in charge of adding technology to scan Bit Torrent and IRC networks where much of the illegal file transferring takes place online. In short, we’re losing at least two officers, and maybe more will be used to look at online chat records for online piracy all while St. Louis continues to have to shift police schedules to make the little manpower we do have be used more effectively in certain areas. Is online piracy a crime? Of course. However, should it be a priority for St. Louis police officers to be used to troll online chat sites looking for details on various pirates? You’ve got to be kidding us with this stupid idea. Plus, those cops are just going to be on Facebook most of the day anyway, until their boss walks in and they switch the tab, Google for “download ‘Trouble With the Curve’” and be all like “Um yup! Found some piracy right here…and I’m writing it down…done! Who needs a doughnut?!”
Think about this the next time you wonder why you’ve heard gunfire more times over the last week than you’ve seen a squad car driving around your neighborhood. We’re excited for the day when the STLPD can get a big grant from the government about computers and police work, but the fact remains a real Robocop just isn’t yet technologically feasible. Call us STLPD when that grant gets handed out, and we’ll get off your back about this one.
via Ars Technica