Thursday, July 25, 2002

After Sept. 11th, there was a lot of noise about "cyberterrorism", and the need to protect the nation's computers with stronger laws against unauthorized access; some of this made it into the PATRIOT act.

And Hollywood thinks that's fine. But they believe that just like al-Qaeda, song-swapping over peer-to-peer file sharing networks also poses an immense threat to the American way of life. And so they want the rules against messing with other peoples' computers to be loosened up just a little bit.

To that end, they've gotten Reps. Berman and Coble (the ranking Democrat and Republican on the House intellectual property subcommittee) to float a bill which would attempt to immunize them from all preexisting state of federal laws for any action they took to disrupt a "publicly accessible peer-to-peer file sharing network". People whose computers were damaged in any way by these activities (including, say, collateral damage from a virus released by the movie studios which went further than intended) would need permission from the United States Attorney General before being even allowed to sue.

How does, Rep. Berman respond to the observation that record sales rose in Napster's heyday, and fell when it was shut down?

P2P piracy does not promote legitimate sales, it replaces them. How do I know? I have some common sense, a grasp of fundamental economics, and a college-age daughter with lots of friends. Frankly, it is galling that creators must even respond to such laughable sophistry.

He knows the Truth --- don't bother him with the facts. And he also knows this:

Currently, copyright owners are unable to use some useful technological tools to deal with P2P piracy because they face potential, if unintended, liability under a variety of state and federal laws.

That's right --- under current law, the entertainment industry is legally liable for the consequences of its actions. Imagine.

Obviously, we need to do something...

(Update: And being men of action, they have indeed introduced the bill. The sections detailing how you have to get permission from the Attorney General to sue Hollywood for damages are particularly amusing. Via Slashdot)


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