Thursday, April 01, 2004

if you share files P2P, watchout...

File sharers: You thought you had to worry about possibly being the subject of a music inductry lawsuit and having to shell out a few grand right? Well guess what, soon it will be prison time as well.

The House judiciary subcommittee has unanimously approved a bill that would punish file swappers with up to three years in jail for first time infringement offenses, and up to six for repeat offenses. This new bill is sponsored by Reps. Howard Berman (D-California) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and targets "heavy users of peer-to-peer networks and those who pirate copies of feature films." The bill is known as "HR 4077, The Piracy Deterrence and Education Act of 2004." RIAA spokespeople call it a "common-sense bill," but then Jack Valenti has also famously said "[i]f you buy a DVD you have a copy. If you want a backup copy you buy another one." Who needs fair use when you have the DMCA, right Jack?

So it appears that "common-sense" to the RIAA is different than for most media consumers (aka average americans). The bill still needs to pass the House and Senate, but it likely has a good chance.
Wired notes in this article that critics suggest that what this bill amount to is the fed spending tax money to protect copyright owners (aka media companies). The bill will provide the DOJ and FBI with lots more cash to go after evil file sharers.

Note also that John Ashcroft and his pals at the Dept. of Justice are in a real tizzy over infringment on P2P networks and have assigned a new task force to figure out how to deal with it. From what I understand, you don't want to get on Ashcroft's bad side.

Well, if you are going to have laws you should enforce them, but jail time for music downloaders seems a bit overzealous. If the music industry thought their goodwill was going down the drain before...


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