Senate Bill Targets File Swapping Networks

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by MacNut, Jun 28, 2004.

  1. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    Senate Bill Targets File Swapping Networks
    Critics Claim Bill Could Outlaw Many Consumer Electronic Products

    A Senate bill proposed last Wednesday would, if approved, effectively ban peer-to-peer file-sharing networks in the United States.

    Introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act of 2004 would allow companies to be held liable if they "intentionally induce" copyright infringement. The bill seems to be designed to overturn a recent court ruling that found that peer-to-peer file-sharing software is legal and any copyright infringement liability rested with end-users. That ruling has forced the music and movie industries to file lawsuits against individual users, a move that has proved costly and unpopular with the public.

    In remarks made after he unveiled the proposal, Hatch said that one of the primary effects of the act would be to protect children from a dangerous and potentially illegal technology. "This bill remedies a threat to the security of copyrights as well as to our citizens and children," said Hatch, "because about half of the users of this software are children, this for-profit piracy scheme mostly endangers children who are ill-equipped to appreciate the illegality or risks of their acts."

    Hatch compared peer-to-peer networks, which allow people to exchange any digital content over their computers, to a character in the movie "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" who lured youngsters into danger with false promises of free lollipops.

    Hatch also noted that a number of other legislators have announced their support of the bill, including Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

    This is not the first time Hatch has proposed legislation designed to protect the rights of copyright holders in Hollywood. He co-authored the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act and in March introduced legislation that would enable the Justice Department to file civil suits against file sharers.

    But a number of critics have worried this law is so encompassing, and widely targeted, that the end result might be to open up many mainstream technology firms to potential lawsuits from copyright holders.

    "There's nothing in this act that limits it to products primarily created for illegal purposes," Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Wired magazine. "If this were to become law, I could easily envision a complaint filed against Apple Computer the very next day, claiming that the sale of iPods helps to induce copyright infringement."

    The EFF, a digital civil liberties organization, has argued that because the act defines intent as being "determined by a reasonable person taking into account all relevant facts," it's unlikely that a technology company would be able to easily dismiss any lawsuit brought against it. In essence, claims the EFF, copyright owners can use the "inducement" theory to inflict a large financial penalty on any technology company that builds a device they don't like.

    Some technology companies have already voiced their concerns about the proposed act. Sarah Deutsch, associate general counsel for Verizon Communications, told the Boston Globe on Monday the bill would void the 1984 Supreme Court Betamax decision, which protected Americans' right to own VCRs. She worried that Verizon could be sued because merely providing broadband Internet access might induce customers to download stolen music.

    Many makers of consumer electronic products have also weighed in against the proposal. "The VCR would not be a legal product; TiVo would not be a legal product," said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association. "I'm surprised the leadership would jump on this bill without hearing from the other side."

    But proponents of the bill say it would provide a powerful tool to curb illegal copying of music files and other media and would protect children from the lure of a technology that is designed to help them break the law.

    Mitch Bainwol, chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America, told the New York Times that he did not envision the legislation's enabling lawsuits against "neutral" technologies, like computer makers.

    "This is not about going after the device makers," Bailwol said, although, according to the Times, he stopped short of guaranteeing that lawsuits would not be filed in the future.

    Distributed by Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  2. MCSnuggles macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2004
    Hi, Im from the UK, I'd really like to know more than anything else, If all those Senator's that have signed this bill actually own VCR's. Because If they do and they are signing a bill that esentially is about stopping infringment, then surely they will be destroying their VCR's. Otherwise they will be performing an illegal operation by recording the footy because you are making a copy from something you do not have the rights to do. This is what P2P is.

    A Senator who quickly realises that he is a complete hiprocrit would be quick to point out to me that VCR's don't cause infringment on a massive scale such as P2P networks do. But I would simply say that if you did research that companies have done, you will clearly see figures that say otherwise, what's going on here is the RIAA is filling Senator's heads with ****, what they need to focus upon is whats going on in Japan with bootlegging, that's bad, One of the senators himself is a musician and because of age and probably senile dementia, he has no idea what's really going on except for the RIAA filling his head of people wildy downloading and uploading music and not spending money. - Incorrect. This senator then fills up other Senators minds with rubbish, and they think the internet is their enemy, jesus what a wasted opportunity. The internet is a fresh supply of music that I can say I get all my collection from, until the itunes of this world will actually offer good music, and not 700,00 pathetic tracks of the top 40 for 20 years I will not be a customer.

    700,000 is nothing. There are Countless millions of different ones on soulseek, good luck in suing those private network users RIAA :)
  3. KingSleaze macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2004
    So. Cal
    I think that they are trying to say that owning a VCR isn't illegal but "knowingly" copying copyrighted material is. Owning a DVD player isn't illegal, but using software to "knowingly" circumvent copy protection (with the intent to distribute) is.

    Seems to me, the problem with this bill is about "intent" to provide free copies of copyrighted material. Yes, P2P file sharing falls into this broad category, which you even acknowledge and the wide availability of more songs on P2P networks doesn't alter the illegality of the exchange. Still, it will be very difficult to enforce. Just adding another law to the books to further ensure people understand the "intent" (there's that word again) of the existing copyright laws.
  4. rainman::|:| macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2002
    Actually, it *would* make VCRs illegal to own, sell, or manufacture. As well as tivo, probably memo recorders, a lot of stuff. Knowingly circumventing copyright on your VCR is already illegal.

    And the reason, MCSnuggles, is that our senators pay very little attention to the real-world effects of laws they make... You could flat out explain this to them, in person, and they still wouldn't understand. Most of them would probably shrug it off with "Well it won't be enforced that way". The judicial branch of the government, when reacting to lawsuits by citizens, is the only branch that still worries about the People's Rights. I mean, thanks to the DCMA, it's illegal to rip your own DVD's, despite the fact that legally, you may make one copy of your DVDs. There's all sorts of overlapping laws like this, and no one's exactly rushing to fix it.


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