About this Author
Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @

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June 01, 2005

More on MPAA-Funded Police Surveillance Cameras

Posted by Ernest Miller

The Big Picture thinks that the MPAA helping the LA Police by paying for the installation of 10 surveillance cameras (MPAA Paying for Police Surveillance Cameras in LA) is a good idea (MPAA Does the Heavy Lifting RIAA Refused to Do).

I'm all for the MPAA and RIAA expending more of their efforts on combatting criminal counterfeiting. However, I really question whether surveillance cameras are the best way to do it. At best they will merely disperse the criminal activity to other locations.

It is interesting that this method is compared to methods for fighting drug sales. "Similar surveillance systems in city parks have dramatically reduced drug sales." They have reduced drug sales in city parks. Furthermore, like drug sales, stopping criminal counterfeiting is not about arresting the street dealers, but about doing the difficult and costly investigations that will allow the criminal rings to be broken. I'm not sure how surveillance cameras really help to do that.

UPDATE 2025 PT - The Big Picture responds below in the comments.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: File Sharing


1. Barry Ritholtz on June 1, 2005 06:42 PM writes...

I had a feeling someone might interpret it that way -- allow me to clarify:

Its not that I think this is a good idea from a societal standpoint -- I'm not in favor of even more Big Brother in our lives; And we all know there is no expectation of privacy in public spaces. But the point isn't the usage of cameras -- its the willingness to spend money on thwarting counterfeiting.

Also, I am looking at it from a perspective of how the RIAA did their job of representing their industry members. While massive counterfeiting was going on (1 out of 3 CDs "sold" are counterfeits) the RIAA began a scorched Earth policy of litigating their own clients.

I think its telling that the MPAA might be learning from the RIAA mistakes. We'll see if they figured out that consumers want to be able to TiVo digital broadcasts and lose this silly flag issue of theirs.

Whether cameras in the downtown zone is the best enforcement method has yet to be determined; I find their attempt to go after the REAL PIRATES more encouraging than the brain dead actions of the RIAA . . .

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2. Ernest Miller on June 1, 2005 08:23 PM writes...

Well, I agree with you except that I think the MPAA knows that surveillance cameras are not a particularly good tool for getting at the source for organized criminal infringement. So, I wonder what they are really up to.

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