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MPAA Requests Immunity to Commit Cyber-Crimes 1180

Posted by michael
from the how-low-can-this-nation-sink dept.
The news has been buzzing around for the last couple of days that Representative Berman, whose palm has been crossed with silver by the entertainment industry, would introduce a bill permitting copyright holders to hack or DoS people allegedly distributing their works without permission. Well, the bill has been introduced - read it and weep. Although the bill wouldn't allow copyright owners to alter or delete files on your machine, they would be allowed to DoS you in essentially any other way. Let me restate that: the MPAA and RIAA are asking that they be allowed to perform what would otherwise be federal and state criminal acts and civil torts, and you will have essentially no remedy against them under any laws of the United States.
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MPAA Requests Immunity to Commit Cyber-Crimes

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  • Oh I get it.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tacokill (531275) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:32PM (#3953089)
    Ok, so its open season. Fine. Game on.

    • Re:Oh I get it.... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by microbob (29155)
      No doubt.

      How do they expect people to react?

      I will just push P2P netwoks into the next phase....
    • Fair Warning (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "And someone said, 'Fair Warning, Lord.
      The young man gone to town.
      Turned from hunted into hunter.
      Gone to hunt somebody down.'"
      -Van Halen
    • by $nyper (83319) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:21PM (#3953615) Homepage
      Lets just say that I have T-1 line to the Internet and Verio is providing that line. When a DOS attack is launched it could potentialy flood every router between my box and the intiator of the attack.

      Okay by law they were given the right to DOS me but not the ISP which can still file criminal charges. So, it sound like they are still shit out of luck unless the law gives them a "get out of jail free card" for all acts commited during the execution of a plan to attack the offender. Wow, now if that were the case it would open up a huge new can of worms.
  • by sconeu (64226) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:33PM (#3953095) Homepage Journal
    If it applies only to big business (RIAA, MPAA, BSA), and not to joe sixpack, it's unconstitutional under the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

    Oh, and this post is Copyright (c) 2002, by me, "sconeu". I reserve the right to search any and all computers for unauthorized reproductions of this post.
    • by carrier lost (222597) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:36PM (#3953141) Homepage

      Yeah!

      This article [theregus.com] over at The Reg gives a satiric slant on that.

      Go get yur black hats, podners!

      MjM

    • As long as it applies to any "copyright holder" then it will pass muster. The trick would be to then see to it that the RIAA or MPAA ends up illegally distributing some kiddies' copyrighted work, at which point that particular kiddie could DDOS the hell out of either organization.
    • by uncoveror (570620) <webmasterNO@SPAMuncoveror.com> on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:42PM (#3953219) Homepage
      It would still be the law until the Supreme Court rules it unconstitutional, if it passes. A lot of laws that are contrary to the constitution don't get challenged, so the Supreme Court can't strike them down. Hopefully, we can keep it from passing. It is time for everyone to start faxing their Congressmen. E-mail is too easy to ignore, and snailmail takes too long if it even gets there. When elections come around in November, anyone who supported this should be voted out. Slashdotters need to get politically involved.
      Also, consumers can boycott the movie and music industries. It is our money they use to bribe Congressmen and Senators. Don't give them any.
      • by Washizu (220337) <bengarvey@comcasOPENBSDt.net minus bsd> on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:36PM (#3953741) Homepage
        It is time for everyone to start faxing their Congressmen. E-mail is too easy to ignore, and snailmail takes too long if it even gets there.

        Contact your Congressman [house.gov], although many don't have fax numbers on their website. You can always call.

      • by Bonker (243350) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:45PM (#3953836)
        It is time for everyone to start faxing their Congressmen.

        Here is the simul email/fax I sent today:

        Dear Representative Combest,

        Recently, your colleague, Representative Howard Berman from California, introduced a bill that would allow copyright holders such as movie studios, publishers, or record labels to take 'technological measures' against computer networks they suspect of violating their copyrights.

        These 'technological measures' are computer 'Denial of Service' or 'DOS' attacks, computer cracking, and other actions that are otherwise considered computer crimes. Right now, if an individual did the same thing that these content industries are asking to do via Berman's bill, he would be investigated by the FBI and put in prison for harming a computer network or a computer. These 'technological measures' are no different. Besides harming an individual's computer, who may or may not be guilty of copyright violation, they also harm Internet Service Providers, Universities, or any other business that is connected to the Internet. The bandwidth lost to 'Denial of Service'-type attacks doesn't affect just people the content industry suspects being guilty of copyright infringement, but everyone connected to the Internet by reducing the amount of bandwidth available for legitimate data.

        Worse, if these industries are allowed to start perpetrating these kind of attacks on individuals or companies, it will become impossible for computer administrators, police forces, or federal investigators to differentiate illegal attacks from sanctioned attacks. Computer 'hacking' and cracking will rise in frequency and volume simply because malicious criminals will be able to take advantage of the 'noise' generated by legal attacks.

        There is no difference between malicious computer attacks and the 'technological measures' proposed by Representative Berman. I urge you to oppose his bill in the strongest possible terms.



      • by WEFUNK (471506) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:46PM (#3953842) Homepage
        Boycotts, legal challenges, and voting people out are all fine after the fact, but the best way to stop this is to stick a real damaging spin on it before it becomes law. The usual anti-MPAA/RIAA and copyright rants probably won't win enough media interest in time to stop this, but politicians could be convinced if the "corporate vigilante immunity law" is lumped in with the recent accounting scandals.

        Write a letter or call your congressional representatives, senators, activists, and/or media outlets pointing out the audacity of big corporations to ask for special privileges and less accountability even in the face of the ongoing accounting and financial investigations. Ask them how we are supposed to trust big corporations with legal immunity from federal laws when we can't even trust them to tell the truth. Tell them that CEO's still just don't get it and that this proposed legislation is further proof that corporate lobbyists are out of control and out of touch with reality. Tell them that allowing corporations to legally unleash hackers on private citizens will be the first step on a slippery slope of immunity and abuse. Tell them that corporations can't be trusted to a lower standard than citizens - if anything they should be held to a higher standard.

        Ask candidates if they are planning to support legal immunity for greedy companies that take the law into their own hands or if they are going to take a stand against corporate excess and fight this latest example of abuse of trust. Ask them if they'll stand up for the little guy, or if they plan to let corporations get away with anti-consumer vigilante tactics. With a little suggestion and the upcoming elections in mind, somebody should recognize the opportunity to run with this issue and make it totally unpaletable before it ever passes.
    • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:58PM (#3953928)
      If it applies only to big business (RIAA, MPAA, BSA), and not to joe sixpack, it's unconstitutional under the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

      Yes, but numerous other unconstitutional bills are on the books, and some have even been upheld by the supreme court, citing "compelling national interests," which is just a fancy way of saying "yeah, it is unconstitutional but we like the law so we're keeping it anyway."

      More importantly, we need to be asking ourselves what other laws are working their way quietly through congress, and what other amendments to unrelated legislation are they trying to slip under our radar?

      In point of fact, two senators have written the FCC asking them to make a rule requiring any computer connected to the internet contain DRM technology, thereby circumventing the legislative process altogether. Before dismissing the possibility that the FCC might comply, consider the fact that (a) no beaurocracy has ever been able to turn down power when it is offered and (b) it was the FCC that gave billions of dollars worth of public airwaves away to broadcasters a few short years ago. If that doesn't demonstrate whose pockets they are in, nothing will.

      I would be very surprised if there isn't a third, forth, and perhaps even fifth attack on our digital freedom underway at this very moment, one that none of us have as yet noticed.

      Be vigilant, and in the effort to fight this appalling legislation do not lose site of the other sleazy bills, amendments, and extralegal efforts that are currently under way by Microsoft and the Media Cartels to make personal general computers a thing of the past.
  • If this passes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tebriel (192168) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:33PM (#3953102)
    They've just declared war, and they themselves will be the first casualties.

    I wish I could feel sorry for them.
    • by Liora (565268) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:55PM (#3953367) Journal

      I want to know who they're going to get to do the hacking. Those programmers will be ostracized in the online communities for the rest of their lives... as it should be. Hacking into people's boxes legit-like based upon some stupid 'right to hack' law, for moulah... Much like NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) we should form a coalition against programmers with no self-respect: NOM/. (Not on my /.).

    • BS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bastian (66383) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:19PM (#3953605)
      Take a step outside the Geek Tower. I've tried explaining issues like this to my friends, and most of them don't understand computers or the nuances of the computing world nearly well enough to fully comprehend issues like this.

      But that doesn't really matter, because the few people who seem to really take notice and care have historically shown that they aren't going to do shit about it, either. Remember when the DVD CCA had a kid arrested for helping to create DeCSS? There was indignation and outcry for all of a month, maybe, and then everyone put their DeCSS source code and anti-DVD CCA t-shirts back in their closets and bought themselves a brand spankin' new DVD player and a stack of movies.

      They haven't declared war at all. They've got us eating out of their hands because when it came down to it, very few people would be willing to give up their Big Name movies and music in order to fight back.
      • Untrue (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Rayonic (462789) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @04:11PM (#3954028) Homepage Journal
        > because the few people who seem to really take notice and care have historically shown that they aren't going to do shit about it

        Not true this time, because:

        a) "Fighting back" this time doesn't involve lengthy and corrupt political processes.

        b) We can do it while sitting on our fat (proverbial) asses.

        I advise everyone here to start creating and publishing your own content right now, so you have a convenient excuse to legally hack and DoS wherever you please. Come on, even if you don't have a creative bone in your body, think about it this way: Neither does the RIAA/MPAA.
    • by coyote-san (38515) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:35PM (#3953734)
      This is not hyperbole.

      No reputable system administrator will use "active countermeasures" today (with a few extraordinary-case exceptions) because they understand that the community as a whole is better served by enforcing the rule of law on the people who attempt to destroy our systems. It can be frustrating to see the legal process grind slowly, but it's better than a world of vigilantes that burn down anyone they think did them wrong.

      But if the courts are removed from us, what are we supposed to do? Sit by and watch our own businesses fail because the MPAA *thinks* that we have an infringing file and its effective immunity means that they have absolutely no motivation in behaving even remotely reasonably?

      Nope, the true effect of this law is to effectively require active countermeasures. You attempt to take down my site, and I'll hit you with everything I have. It may not be legal, but under this law there is effectively *no* legal response available, and at least this way I have a chance of surviving for another day.

      Finally, even if you're willing to play "mother may I" with the AG, how could you ever *prove* that you lost sales because your systems were down, data inaccessible, etc.?

      P.S. ,I'm not just worried about the MPAA and RIAA. Imagine the Church of $cientology armed with this to go after its critics/former members.
  • by Typingsux (65623) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:33PM (#3953105)
    Click me [photoisland.com]

  • Holy Cow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Icepick_ (25751) <icepickNO@SPAMnetfamine..com> on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:33PM (#3953107) Homepage
    If you've been living under a rock, now is the time to realize how deep it really is in Washington now.

    This is complete and utter bullshit. My money stays home if this passes. Anyone read any good books lately?
  • by Captain Pedantic (531610) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:34PM (#3953109) Homepage
    The Register is actually looking forward [theregister.co.uk] to this becoming law!
  • by tandr (108948)
    ... all the hell will break loose when Lucent Bell Labs will DoS all unix machines? Or virus writers will do DoS legaly -- "It is my virus, they stole and DISTRIBUTE it!!".

    and then just wait till MS would do DoS to these nasty pirates...
  • by aronc (258501) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:34PM (#3953118)
    As of a few days ago if citizen do these same things they can be considered terrorists and subject to a maximum sentance of life in prison. Now who again is being helped by our lawmakers now?
    • by AntiNorm (155641) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @07:04PM (#3955240)
      As of a few days ago if citizen do these same things they can be considered terrorists and subject to a maximum sentance of life in prison.

      "As of a few days ago"? The Patriot Act is still in full effect, is it not? What this all means is that if they get their way (when do they not?), corporations can hack/DoS you all they want, but if you return fire in any way, you're a fucking TERRORIST.

      IMHO, anybody who would even consider passing or proposing anything like this is far more of a terrorist than any John Q. Mp3trader ever could be. It pisses me off to no end that corporations could even think of doing crap like this, and that our government would let it happen. Oh, corporate interests can do this to anybody they don't like, but private citizens are treated as terrorist scum if they even think about doing it. The Constitution is being defecated upon in the name of corporate interests and big money.

      Double standards annoy me as is. But to make a distinction between being perfectly legal and being an Osama Bin Laden in training just because of how much money you have is the dumbest fucking thing I have ever heard.
  • Immoral acts (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by SpatchMonkey (300000)
    But otherwise illegal acts are already carried out by ruling organizations - this already happens and is endorsed on a much wider scale.

    For example, the death penalty for serious crimes. It's murder - except when the government do it!

    And just look at religion. One of the commandments in Christianity is "you shall not murder". How hypocritical when their own god went and meticulously tortured and killed sections of a whole race of people (the Egyptians.)

    Don't be shocked about this. There are many, many occurances of the same sort of thing to show that history does indeed repeat itself.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:35PM (#3953130)
    I wonder at what point the revolt will happen. Something tells me it will be when it's far too late, and anybody trying to be proactive about it will be called a terrorist or something.

    When will the American people wake up? It's so blatantly obvious to the rest of the world that your corporations are out of control. When are you going to finally realize it's time to put a leash on them?
    • When will the American people wake up? It's so blatantly obvious to the rest of the world that your corporations are out of control. When are you going to finally realize it's time to put a leash on them?

      We have more important things to worry about. The evil liberals took God out of the Pledge of Allegiance!!!

    • by not using the rights they have. Americans have rolled over on their fucking backs, kicking their legs like cockroaches, because ( I hear this all the time) registering to vote is a pain in the ass, paying attention to the issues takes too much effort, ... etc., etc..

      American corporations are strong legal entities only because the American public let them get that way. The beauty of the US Constitution is that whenver Americans truly want to exercise their rights, they can reign in powers that threaten to undermine our freedoms.

      It's happened before. Look at the Robber Barrons. Their excesses spawned a raft of trustbusting legislation. Of course, that legislation didn't just create itself. Normal voters rose up and made their voices heard.

      Talk of revolution is nifty, and we'd all doubtless love to engage in a Matrix-style rampage against corporatism. But the real solution isn't revolution, it's working within the political system we already have. The problem is, that requires.. shudder!... actual participation in the process. You can't just write a fucking email or hack your Playstation and get results in politics.

      Revolt? Not likely, when Americans can't seem to use the power they already have.

  • new p2p scheme (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Afrosheen (42464) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:35PM (#3953134)
    Where will all of this end? Does the MPAA/RIAA actually need the right to attack individuals over the internet for having an mp3 of Stairway to Heaven on their pc? Is there anything dsl/cable/whatever providers can do to protect their customers from this?

    More questions and a film at 11.
    • Re:new p2p scheme (Score:5, Interesting)

      by macdaddy (38372) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:11PM (#3953522) Homepage Journal
      Sure there is. If it passes I'll be blacklisting every RIAA and MPAA netblock I can find. I'd also nominat the for an RBL listing due to the DoSing attempts from their netspace and their disregard for abuse@ mailings. They can't DoS my customers if they can't get past my border router. If they still flood me as a business, I'll sue for damages. :-)
  • Good bye internet... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eyepeepackets (33477) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:38PM (#3953156)
    ...hello again Fidonet, old friend. How you be? Here, let me help you with that (whatever.)

    This had better not pass into law because it's an open invitation to civil war on the net. I can't believe such stupidity makes it this far in Congress, no, wait, yes I can believe it in the context of UCITA, DRM, etc., etc., seemingly ad infinitum.

  • In other news (Score:5, Informative)

    by BagOBones (574735) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:39PM (#3953168)
    The Canadian Private Copying Collective wants more of your money.

    On top of raising existing levys, they want to tax any media that can store copyrighted material. This includes Hard drives and Flash media. While the MPAA is crashing your computer in the US the CPCC is robing you blind every time you buy recordable media.. And how much are the artists getting??? According to reports, after 2 years of the levy being collected NOTHING has been paied to ANY artist.. Theroy has it they are spending all the money lobying for higher levys.

    http://www.sycorp.com/levy/index.htm
  • How low? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bonker (243350) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:41PM (#3953190)
    MPAA - 'Can we have immunity from laws designed to protect the computer infrastructure and commit damaging acts against networks and computers that don't belong to us?' - Pending

    John Ashcroft and Federal LEO's - 'Can we have immunity from the fourth ammendment and commit invasion of privacy against americans?' - Denied up until 9-11, then granted, despite the fact that they already had information about the WTC attacks. Permanent acception is pending the Patriot act's expiration date.

    George Bush and Oil Industry CEOs - 'Can we have immunity from laws protecting the environment and virgin wilderness in order to increase our profits and control of the energy industry by drilling in Alaskan wilderness and completely ignoring global warming and any other environmental concerns that are too expensive for us to worry about?' - Pending.

    What's next?

    Preists - 'Can we have immunity from laws protecting children from molestation and rape so we can get our jollies with 9 year olds?'

    Corporate Executives - 'Can we have immunity from laws protecting our investors and the general public so that we can pad our pocketbooks and live lives of luxury?'

    Police - 'Can we have immunity from laws protecting citezens from police brutality so that we can beat, maim or kill with impunity?'

    The Rich - 'Can we have immunity from laws protecting people from slavery and oppression so that we can further entrench our selves in oligarchy and profit from the abuse of our fellow humans'?

    • Re:How low? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by endoboy (560088)
      P2P networks - "Can we have immunity to steal intellectual property, as long as we call it "sharing""?
      • Re:How low? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gilroy (155262) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @04:29PM (#3954184) Homepage Journal
        Blockquoth the poster:
        P2P networks - "Can we have immunity to steal intellectual property, as long as we call it "sharing""?
        Leaving aside the fact that copyright infringement != stealing, let's see. Do we let convenience store clerks take guns into the apartments of people they think might rob the Kwiki-Mart? Do car owners get to blow up suspected car thieves? Does the local mall have the right to cut off your hand because, hey, that Gap shirt might have been stolen?
      • Re:How low? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Wah (30840) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @05:11PM (#3954548) Homepage Journal
        Can we have world wide network to promote our music (that we created) without having to pay a tax to the RIAA?
    • Re:How low? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zathrus (232140)
      Well, let's not forget the left wing version of all of this:

      Poor - 'Can we have immunity from our own stupid decisions and lack of self motivation so that we can continue to live off the fruits of other people'?

      I happen to agree, by and large, with the first two allegations you make. The rest is no more than left wing baiting in my opinion. And before you whine that I'm a right wing asshole, you're wrong. I'm about as moderate as it gets. Rhetoric too far to either side disgusts me with the lack of intelligence it exhibits.
    • Re:How low? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jafac (1449)
      George Bush and Oil Industry CEOs - 'Can we have immunity from laws protecting the environment and virgin wilderness in order to increase our profits and control of the energy industry by drilling in Alaskan wilderness and completely ignoring global warming and any other environmental concerns that are too expensive for us to worry about?' - Pending.

      IIRC - the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve has nothing at all to do with global warming. Whether they drill there or not doesn't make one bit of difference in the overall global warming picture. All drilling up there is going to do is kill a bunch of endangered (or soon to be endangered) species, which are pretty crucial to the ecosphere up there, which is already on the verge of collapse due to effects of global warming which has already happened. So basically, it doesn't really matter whether they drill up there anyway. Those animals are already living on borrowed time. Pity.
  • Loophole (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nomad7674 (453223) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:41PM (#3953198) Homepage Journal
    One of the "exceptions" listed to the immunity (i.e. if this condition is tripped, then they ARE liable) is:

    (C) causes economic loss of more than $50 per impairment to the property of the affected file trader, other than economic loss involving computer files or data made available through a publicly accessible peer-to-peer file trading network that contains works which the owner has exclusive rights granted under section 106;

    So if you managed to place the files in question on a server which also had some commercial purpose (say, hosting images for an eBay auction) might this trip the $50 limit and allow prosecution or civil action? I am only the son of a lawyer and not one myself, but this seems like a low threshhold for such a bill

  • The MPAA would hire a couple of "consulting" companies to carry out these acts.

    These consulting firms would attack and disable some script kiddies computer who is serving MP3s.

    So, what does the script kiddie do? He and his bunch of script kiddies go and shut down the offending consulting firms internet connection(s) with a DoS that's about 100 times more massive (because they can use everyone elses poorly protected servers to do it). And that's just if they pick on a teenager in the US.

    Say they try and shut down some actual knowledgable hacker in, say, Russia. Wait a second... why are the bank account numbers, credit card numbers, home address and telephone for the head of the MPAA up on MPAA.com? Weird.

    My question is, how does this web site [mpaa.org] even stay up?

    I'm sure the script kiddies internet provider will just be pleased as punch that the MPAA just hacked one of it's customers and possibly used a DoS attack to do it (there by degrading the quality of service for all their clients)

    Sounds great to me. It'll work like a charm this new law (if passed).

    And why does the MPAA sound like a police orginization to me?
    From their website:
    To battle the problem, in 2000, the MPA launched over 60,000 investigations into suspected pirate activities, and more than 18,000 raids against pirate operations in coordination with local authorities around the world.

    The MPAA/MPA directs its worldwide anti-piracy activities from headquarters in Encino, California. Regional offices are also located in Brussels (Europe, Middle and Africa), Mexico (Latin America) Canada and Hong Kong (Asia/Pacific).


    Uhmm... that scares me
  • by lunenburg (37393) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:42PM (#3953214) Homepage
    I sent off this Letter to the Editor to newspapers in Coble's 6th District in North Carolina (Greensboro, High Point, Burlington, Asheboro, Lexington) this morning, before the bill was officially introduced. Hopefully it'll get published in at least one of the papers:

    ######
    To The Editor,

    For years, Congress and law enforcement has been telling us about the dangers posed by computer hackers. They have warned computer users about how you should be on guard for the damage that hackers can do to your computer systems.

    However, Rep. Howard Coble is preparing to submit a bill in Congress that would grant almost complete immunity to large music and movie companies to hack into your computers, if they have the suspicion that you might be sharing copyrighted files. No proof or involvement by law enforcement will be needed. And what's more, if they damage your computers in this vigilante action, you'll need to prove real damages of over $250 and get the permission of the US Attorney General to file suit against them.

    What Rep. Coble is saying is that computer hacking is bad, unless you're a rich corporation with lots of money to provide in campaign donations. The hypocracy of such a bill is stunning. The voters of Congressional District 6 need to decide whether Rep. Coble is looking out for their interests, or Big Hollywood's.
  • It WILL be an act of war. Arm yourselves, people. PGP your files and offload to a disconnected machine. And get a firewall. And Nmap. If they do this, we can fight right back and when they do, the government will finally see the error of this bill.
  • by Christianfreak (100697) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:44PM (#3953233) Homepage Journal
    We should still be writing our representatives but at the same time I don't really think this bill stands much of a chance. Congress usually understands when they are making something that is on the books illegal into something legal for elite groups. They know that if they pass the bill and it gets some publicity that there will be huge public outcry, probably enough to keep at least some of them from being re-elected.

    Even if it passes its obviously unconstitutional and any judge in his right mind will strike it down.

    (if it passes the house and goes to the Senate then I'll worry)
  • by Bryan Ischo (893) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:47PM (#3953271) Homepage
    Did the person who wrote the Slashdot editorialization for this story even read the bill?

    The very first page says:

    "Notwithstanding any State or Federal statute or other law ..."

    Which indicates to me that you WOULD have "remedy against them" under whatever laws of the United States existed before this bill.

    Furthermore, the bill makes it very clear that the copyright holder can only mess with your computer's ability to transfer copyrighted material, not anything else, and only if it does not adversely impact your computer with regards to anything other than the copyrighted material which is being illegally transferred.

    And, far from being "allowed to DoS you in essentially any other way", they could only block, divert, or otherwise impair the UNAUTHORIZED transfer of copyrighted material. Whatever that other way of DoSing you is that you are worried about, it could only be used so long as it interferes only with the unauthorized transfer of copyrighted material. And only if it only causes economic loss to you of less than $50 per impairment to the property of the affected copyright holder, and only if it does not economically or materially impact anyone else.

    I would say that this bill simply tries to put forth the notion that they copyright holders ought to be allowed to block illegal transfer of their copyrighted works, within very tight boundaries of conduct which ensures that they do not inadvertently cause any harm to any one else, or even to the illegal transferrer except for impairing their ability to make illegal transfers.

    I am not saying that I agree or disagree with this bill, but the editorializer has clearly overstated the scope and effect of this bill. This seems to be a common tactic of those who rabidly defend an anti-copyright position with regards to modern file sharing.
    • by bwt (68845) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:00PM (#3953417) Homepage
      "Notwithstanding" means that the other statutes are preempted and literally will not withstand conflict with the present statute.
    • Notwithstanding (Score:5, Informative)

      by handorf (29768) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:05PM (#3953462)
      Notwithstanding [dictionary.com]
      notwithstanding Pronunciation Key (ntwth-stndng, -wth-)
      prep.
      In spite of: The teams played on, notwithstanding the rain.

      adv.
      All the same; nevertheless: We proceeded, notwithstanding.

      conj.
      In spite of the fact that; although.



      IN SPITE OF any other federal or state laws, they can do what they like.

      Oh, and they can delete any file they want if it is "necessary" to prevent you from trading their copyrighted files.

      Yes, it REALLY is that bad.
    • Other replies covered the definition of notwithstanding. My point is this:

      If you are sitting in your home with a printing press putting out copies of the latest J.K. Rowling book, can the book publisher or author come busting in to your house and stop your presses? If you think I have stolen your cat, can you break into my apartment (without damaging anything) in order to look around and see if I did? I'm pretty sure (and I truly hope) the answer is no.

      If I'm breaking the law and you want to stop me, have law enforcement do it. Sue me. Get me thrown in jail, and have me fined out the rear end. This is "taking the law into your own hands" in a very bad way (not saying there aren't some good ways). This is equivalent to letting you rummage through my stuff on the suspicion that I have something of yours. This is wrong.

      -Puk
    • by Lxy (80823) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:22PM (#3953616) Journal
      Did the person who wrote the Slashdot editorialization for this story even read the bill?

      You're new here, aren't you?
  • by bwt (68845) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:50PM (#3953322) Homepage
    Write your representative online here [house.gov]

    Unfortunately for me, my rep is Lamar Smith (R-TX) who is one of the bill's sponsors.

    I wrote him yesterday (before I knew he was a sponsor) and made several objectsions to the bill:
    1) It's vigilante justice. False positives -- the MPAA and RIAA have a strong market pressure to ignore false positives, because alternative methods of distribution challenge their business model
    2) The "digital piracy" problem is not a problem
    3) The MPAA and RIAA have subverted the democratic process and the will of the people regarding copyright law
    4) Trying to stop file-trading is futile. Free Speech and "Total Control" Copyright are fundamentally incompatible. The People would rather have Free Speech than the MPAA and RIAA.

    I wrote him today and told him I would vote against him.
  • by liquidsin (398151) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:51PM (#3953337) Homepage
    First, copyright holders were allowed to take you to civil court for theft of copyrighted material, which was all well and good. Then, the big guys realized that civil proceedings cost them money, so they paid for a law (DMCA) that would make copyright violations a criminal offense so the government would foot the bill. And now that they aren't getting the results they wanted from the government they want to legalize vigilante justice? I guess buying your politicians in bulk really pays off...
  • by kabir (35200) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:52PM (#3953346)
    First go here [house.gov] to figure out who your rep is, then write them an actual, physical, pen and paper letter detailing your concerns over this issue and asking them to vote/committe it into oblivion.

    Sure you could use the link above to write in electronically, and that's fine, but you should more or less expect that if you don't write a physical letter then you'll be ignored. It's not always competely true, but it's true enough. If you don't write your rep and this thing passes then you've pretty much forfieted your bitching rights.

    • FIRST (Score:3, Insightful)

      FIRST, read the bill [politechbot.com]. Second, read Berman's analysis. Third, read Berman's statement.

      Only then should you write a letter to your representative. And be sure to back up your statments very thoroughly if they contradict Berman's in any way.

      If you'd like to have someone try to tear holes in your argument, feel free to reply here :).

  • by Slipped_Disk (532132) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:53PM (#3953351) Homepage Journal
    May I suggest that while we are discussing this abomination of a bill here on slashdot we also take the time to open our word processors and write letters to our representatives?

    Remember that technically they are supposed to represent US, not the person/corporation with the biggest checkbook.

    It may also do well to write your senators -- A similar bill will likely start up there eventualy, or if this mess passes the house it will wind up in the senate eventually.
    Find your Representative [house.gov] and your Senators [senate.gov] and make your opinion known.

    (BTW - remember that paper letters are far more difficult to ignore than outraged emails. Especially en masse.)

  • by ukyoCE (106879) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:56PM (#3953374) Journal
    Before you can be punished for a crime, isn't due process required? And even if you are found to be committing a crime, since when were victims allowed to decide and administer punishment? This is seriously messed up stuff going on here, for this sort of thing even to be suggested by one of our representatives -- let alone if it actually passes!
  • by Geckoman (44653) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @02:59PM (#3953410)
    Suppose I'm on a cable modem, and although I'd never do anything illegal or immoral with my connection, my neighbor down the street has multiple Napster clones running 24/7.

    If the MPAA or RIAA decides they want to DDoS him for sharing their material, it's darn sure going to impact my EverQuest and Warcraft III connections (as well as whatever more "legitimate" uses I may be putting my bandwidth to).

    Will non-infringers who suffer such collateral damage have any recourse against the companies or trade groups who are "protecting their rights"?

    Hmm...no cancelled checks in my account made out to any Congressmen, so I somehow doubt it.

  • by Kefaa (76147) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:25PM (#3953646)
    Everytime this appears we get a bunch of "we'll show them posters" threatening all kinds of interesting punishments. Forget it.

    If/When the law passes each attempt to hack into their computers for any reason will be met with the recently passes "capital crime" of hacking punishment.

    You are an individual. They are a corporation.
    You are a terrorist. They are protecting the rights of American copyright holders.
    You will get 5 - 25 years. They will get new releases on how good a job they are doing stopping these kids from stealing their products.
    They donate large sums of money to congress. You are listed as a non-voting demographic. [Better than opposition party or extremist, you are a non-entity.]

    I will be surprised if this makes the nightly news anywhere. They want this to be a non-story and will pay plenty to keep it that way. Any story that does arise will be spinning the "protecting America against copyright theft."

    If you really want to do something, take five minutes, right now and FAX your representatives [You could try email. Are they any better at reading them today than last year?].

    Be polite, be firm and be specific. DMCA got passed because many people expected someone else(our representatives) to see the lunacy in the approach. This just proves we can never underestimate the ability of smart people to do dumb things with the right incentive.

    Here are the contacts:
    Senate Locator [senate.gov]
    House of Representative Locator [house.gov]

    Do it now
  • by bwt (68845) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:26PM (#3953656) Homepage

    Assume that the MPAA and RIAA will be able to block packets from any P2P network that they identify as containing their works. I'm not sure how they'll do it, but it probably involves paying off the backbone owners and/or ISPs.

    It seems to me that the obvious counter-measure is to use encryption and "trusted peer" techniques to preclude their ability to join the P2P network and/or identify who is trading what.
  • by Lethyos (408045) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:31PM (#3953701) Journal
    It's simple. Pirates are very determined to continue piracy. If the MPAA, RIAA, or whoever start hacking, three things will happen.

    1. The outcome will be true to the traditional form of computer security: the more people you have banging on something, the better it'll get in the long run. People who design and develop the P2P networks and the systems they run on will have intense motivation to make those systems more secure against crackers. More bugs will be found and squashed since the attackers in this case are not afraid of legal ramifications.

    2. Pirates'll change their software. Most pirates are probably on fairly insecure systems [microsoft.com] at the moment. When they find themselves being shut down in this manner, they'll move to more secure [openbsd.org] platforms and services.

    3. Whoever these entities are will eventually blunder such that they will destroy both their credibility and make them look like jackasses. In time, they are going to hire people who will abuse this to the maximum possible extent. There's also the extreme likelihood that some attacks will be waged on critical systems for businesses or whoever (someone sets of a warez depot on their company's xyz server).

    These people who want this nonsense fail to realize exactly how pointless all this is. They don't understand that they are dealing with an animal that heals faster than it can be injured. When they took out Napster, a dozen file sharing services popped up to take its place. Likewise today, when they start cracking to take down sharing networks and systems, the users will only build them up stronger. Not to mention that no matter at what scale they launch these attacks, the MPAA, RIAA, or whoever could never have enough attackers to even make a dent on the whole system. There's at least an order of magnitude more pirates than there are people stopping them. Again, they will make themselves look like jackasses.

    Damn fools. Greed makes them both blind and stupid. They could spend some time coming up with a fair business model that could survive out there today without a lot of extra bullshit (Palladium, DRM, etc). That would require a lot less time and money.
  • The crux of the bill is in subsection (a) which states that they won't be liable for any ciminal or civil action which results from impairing the distribution of copyright works. However, there are exceptions to that, which I find quite large. If I'm reading this correctly, then they cannot claim their actions fall under this bill if it:
    • (B) causes economic loss to any person other than affected file traders; or
    • (C) causes economic loss of more than $50.00 per impairment to the property of the affected file trader, other than economic loss involving computer files or data made available through a publicly accessible peer-to-peer file trading network that contain works in which the owner has an exclusive right granted under section 106;
    This means that if they dos someone on my local cable segment then I can sue them if it impacts my bandwidth, Comcast can sue if it deprives their customers of service and/or uses their resources, and all the backbones and other service providers whose bandwidth is eaten up can call for reimbursement.

    The two downsides of this is that the bill is not limited to dos. It is pretty wide open in that they can do pretty much anything technologically which has the effect of "disabling, interfering with, blocking, diverting, or otherwise impairing the unauthorized distribution, display, performance, or reproduction" of their material. Which includes crashing or otherwise rendering inoperable network communications on the computer.

    Not only that, but anyone who tries to face up to them needs very deep pockets to fight them - even if they caused more than $50 of damage they'll still have to prove it in court.

    In other words, "Shoot now, ask questions later" and "You are guilty until proven innocent" should be stamped across this bill.

    Translation: Fight the bill here and now. It'll be ten times more difficult and costly to remove it from law than it is to keep it from being placed there in the first place.

    -Adam
  • by bwt (68845) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:37PM (#3953757) Homepage

    Folks, it is clear to me that the legislative process is so corrupted by the Copyright special interests that the laws that it produces are not legitimate representations of the will of the people.

    I believe that the only moral response in such a case is to violate those laws. Screw the MPAA. Screw the RIAA. Screw Congress. It is time for freedom loving people to declare openly that they will not recognize copyrights held by the MPAA and RIAA.
    • by why-is-it (318134) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @04:23PM (#3954132) Homepage Journal
      I believe that the only moral response in such a case is to violate those laws. Screw the MPAA. Screw the RIAA. Screw Congress. It is time for freedom loving people to declare openly that they will not recognize copyrights held by the MPAA and RIAA.

      Well, that is step one. Step two in a civil disobedience campaign would be to openly and publicly violate their copyright and fully accept the consequences of that act. You see, the point of civil disobedience is that you want to get arrested and charged under the unjust law, and you want to received the punishment mandated by that unjust law in the hopes of making the public at large aware of just how bad the law is.

      Are you still down with that?
  • by meehawl (73285) <meehawl,spam&gmail,com> on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:40PM (#3953782) Homepage Journal
    The top industries supporting Howard L. Berman [opensecrets.org] are:
    1 TV/Movies/Music $186,891
    2 Lawyers/Law Firms $97,100

    The top industries supporting Howard Coble [opensecrets.org] are:
    1 Lawyers/Law Firms $35,515
    2 TV/Movies/Music $33,483

    There is nothing these two "gentlemen" would not to to keep sucking at the media industry tit. Even to the degree of drafting such nonsensical law that clearly violates the "equal treament" under privilege or immunity of the 14th Amendment [cornell.edu] by immunizing corporations against felonious activities conducted by them against citizens without considering due process.
  • by shren (134692) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:43PM (#3953818) Homepage Journal

    Here's your chance to legally hack Microsoft and see if they're using your GPLed code.

    Here's what I want to see happen:

    1. Hackers hack Microsoft.
    2. Hackers find GPL code in most versions of Windows.
    3. In a death-defying hacker assault, hackers wipe every single line of code covered by the GPL license off the face of the planet.
    4. Microsoft sues hackers.
    5. Hackers argue that since the code has GPLed code, it's licensed under the GPL. Since there have been binaries distributed, Microsoft is legally obligated to distribute the source. Thus, since the source is legally required to be freely available, it has no resale value, is thus worth zero, and thus the hackers are protected because the amount of damage is less than 250$ dollars.
    6. ???
    7. Profit!
  • by chazzf (188092) <cfulton.deepthought@org> on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:46PM (#3953849) Homepage Journal
    Having read through the bill, I'd like to make some observations.

    The bill defines a peer-to-peer network as being:

    two or more computers which are connected by computer software that (A) is primarily designed to (i) enable the connected computers to transmit files or data to other connected computers... (B) does not permanently route all file or data inquiries or searches through a designated, central computer located in the United States

    This would seem to obviate any centralized file-trading system (like Napster). In fact, it would exclude any system not truly peer-to-peer. Odd.

    The bill also includes provisions for suing the copyright holders if they cause at leaset "$50" in economic damages to you. However, it specifies "Monetary" damages. Does this mean hardware repair, as opposed to the less tangible lost bandwidth? If so, can we throw this back at their somewhat intangible "losses to piracy"?

    They also must notify the Justice Department 7 days in advance, as I read it. Given the shitfting nature of the Internet, that seems useless to the **AA.

    Okay, this bill sucks, but it doesn't seem nearly as dangerous (yet) as everyone makes it out to be.

    ~Chazzf
  • perl -e "while(1) { system('curl http://www.mpaa.org > /dev/null'); }"
    'nuff said.

  • They have no idea... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KC7GR (473279) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @04:00PM (#3953944) Homepage Journal
    ...what they're about to unleash.

    Even if this laughable bill doesn't become law, the very fact that the MPAA and RIAA are pushing for it is probably going to land the IP address ranges of both companies in an awful lot of locally-maintained E-mail and web proxy blacklists, just on principal alone.

    As for their tactics; Any SysAdmin worth their salt can easily detect, isolate, and block a DoS attack at the router level. Such an attack has little effect if the attacking system gets no response whatsoever from the target IP.

    In any case, that's really beside the point. The way I see it, this kind of crap has the potential to release a widespread public-relations and consumer backlash that the industry as a whole may never recover from.

  • by Lumpish Scholar (17107) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @04:30PM (#3954195) Homepage Journal
    In the U.S. (where the bill has been proposed), 2002 is an election year. All members of the House of Representatives, and one third of the members of the Sentate, are up for re-election. Every one of them has at least one opponent (both major parties have already held their local primary elections).

    Sure, write your elected officials. But write the people running against them, too. We want to send a clear message, no matter who wins in November.

    For extra credit, in addition to the letters to D.C., write one to each "committe to [re]elect" (a.k.a. "Friends of Blah Blah Blah"), and enclose a personal check to the committee. (Do not send cash!) It doesn't have to be big; ten or twenty dollars is enough to get a little attention. Our money talks, too!
  • by linuxbert (78156) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @04:39PM (#3954290) Homepage Journal
    Correct me if im wrong, but are their not bills which have been passed, or are in the process of being passed that make acts such as these considered terrorism?

    Terrorism is wrong, unless your a big company....
  • by cowtamer (311087) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @06:06PM (#3954892) Journal
    Talking about "getting them back" is pointless.

    They will probably direct their DoS attacks against the internals of the P2P protocols, rather than the users machines. They will use disposable (and anonymous) nodes to do so--they may be unscrupulous, but they are not stupid.

    Nonetheless, the proposed law is extremely prone to being abused.

    What we need to do is start designing the next generation P2P systems that will be immune to things like legitimate-looking users posting bogus files, etc.

    ----------------
    Here's what I can think of on the spot

    1) Community-based systems (akin to slashdot) where some nodes have more "credibility" points.
    Node "karma" would be based on
    -Total Kbytes streamed out
    -Moderation by other "trusted" nodes

    The community aspect must not get in the way of reaching a "critical mass" of users, without which any P2P system is bound to fall.

    2) Ability to randomly sample small segments of files on remote nodes in order to determine whether they are legit. This would stop them from uploading complete garbage, or legitimate-looking beginnings followed by garbage.

    3) Distributed method of establishing trust. This is the tricky part. We could use public-key crypto in some fashion. Perhaps nodeID blacklists or whitelists could be distributed among the users, or uploaded to FreeNet. Before downloading a song from an unknown node, my machine would query 10-20 random nodes for blacklist info. This would make it a lot more difficult to set up random nodes hosting garbage.

    5) Other heuristics to determine the trustworthiness of nodes and/or files.

    7) Doing all of the above in a relatively speedy (i.e., not impractically slow such as gnuTella) and relatively anonymous/pseudonymous way.
    -----------

    Please reply (i.e., follow-up to the post) with any further ideas. Perhaps we can seed the minds of the developers who'll be coding the next generation of P2P software. Are there any ideas we can glean from eBay's trust management system?

    • Trust/Karma should be open ended and climb with diminishing returns making it more difficult to whore.

      I trust the bank to meet my cheques, I don't trust it to keep my privacy. I may trust a usenet poster to paraphase articles accuratly, but not his judgement in drawing conclusions. I may trust a poster to debunk UFO myths, but not his Politics. Therefore, Trust/Karma should against a set of seperate attributes/objectives.
  • by Nogami_Saeko (466595) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @06:22PM (#3954992)
    That they work for US.

    WE pay their salaries, WE pay their employees, WE pay their artists when WE buy their products.

    If they get us sufficiently mad, WE will not spend our hard-earned money on their products any more and THEY will feel it.

    It's about time to organize a month-long media boycott. Show the "big boys" exactly how much power we have over "their business". Pick a nice date like January, 2003, and just swear off ANY CD/Movie Ticket/DVD purchases for a month.

    Easy to do - if you wanna watch a movie or listen to some music, just borrow it from a friend, but don't spend a RETAIL DIME purchasing anything.
  • Net Police (Score:3, Informative)

    by MartyJG (41978) on Friday July 26, 2002 @03:05AM (#3956781) Homepage
    The music industry is already using a company called NetPD [netpd.com] to hunt down and kill copyrighted material. Unfortunately they don't just go for the files. They were interviewed for a 'cybercrime' documentary on the BBC recently and they explained they find out who is distributing the files (includes P2P clients as well as websites) and sends one of those we've-got-lawyers, your-customer-hasn't letters to your ISP.

    (I'd LOVE to waste some of my spare bandwidth/cpucycles hammering the servers they use to search for files - but this would have to be done by a larger number of users than just me.)
  • by Irvu (248207) on Friday July 26, 2002 @12:08PM (#3959338)
    Heres a first draft of what came to my mind as I read this (Copyright) "Business Vigilante law":
    1. Permits larger corporations to take the law into their own hands in dealing with alleged piracy. Vigilatism was illegal the last time that I looked.
    2. Permits a shoot-first and ask questions later approach to dealing with the issue as the actors are permitted to first invade or otherwise attach an individual's system and then inform the Justice department. (Do the inform the TIPS program of what else they find?)
    3. Opens the door for wider vigilantism by promoting the idea that, where corporate interests are concerned, the Law cannot be trusted.
    4. Opens the door to wider public vigilantism by making it apparent that anyone is entitled to break into their neighbors home and look around just on the off chance that said neighbor stole their missing saw.
    5. Puts more power on large corporations in a time when we are constantly facing a torrent of scandals showing just how little these groups can be trusted.
    6. Permits copyright holders a loophole to engage in acts that are federal offences under current law thus making it apparent that the law does not equally apply.
    7. Permits individuals who have suffered damage at the hands of these cyber-vigilantes only civil courts as a remedy. Thus forcing individuals, and small businesses into an arena where they cannot compete with the well-staffed and well-funded legal teams of the Motion Picture Industry Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America. Indeed by making civil suit the only option it virtually guaranteed immunity to these companies who can afford many expensive lawsuits versus the universities, ISPs and individuals who will be targeted, most likely randomly. This will kill any sort of public Internet as anyone who has the potential for making files available has the potential to be hacked.
    8. This will crush the utility of the Internet as a social and economic medium. What is the incentive for a university, business, or individual to go online if they face the potential for legally sanctioned hacking. The whole point of the current "get-tought on cybercime laws" is to promote the Internet for people and businesses by reducing the likelihood of destructive and privacy invasive hacking. This bill not only promotes such hacking thus increasing its frequency but gives it a legal sanction thus reducing the ability of Individuals and Businesses to seek legal redress. Ironically it is the lack of such redress that has been driving many of the current cybercrime initiatives.
    9. This will raise the amount of such suspicious activity as DoS attacks in this country at a time when the Defense department and Department of Justice are asserting that cyberwar is inevitable and that we need to be prepared for it. In effect this will raise the surrounding "noise" of hacking and make it more difficult for the Justice department and our Security agencies to sort out "legal" hacking from "illegal" hacking.
    10. opens the door for rampant domestic spying. In the this law is the computer equivalent of granting the rights to anyone to invade my home, read my private documents, and scan my activities just on the off chance that this has anything illegal in them.
    11. This will DESTROY privacy on the Internet, and make possible a wider degree of citizen reporting and domestic spying this time by vigilantes not the government. However, what's to stop these groups from using the information that they obtain on me in the course of "checking for contraband"? What is to stop them from sending anything they see to the proposed TiPS program? In short, nothing. This bill will crush personal privacy in the name of business interests and kill any hope of using the Internet reasonably in the process. Anytime I bring my computer online I might as well be opening my door for inspection.
    12. Lastly, and most importantly, this bill WILL NOT WORK. Even if these groups are permitted to carry around this large legal stick and beat people randomly with it, it will not "solve" the problem of piracy nor will it make our nation any more secure. In the end truly determined pirates will take their trading to a different (more hack-proof) type of network, small businesses, and individuals who are subject to these raids will be crushed, and the internet will cease to be a viable economic medium.
      1. Just a few comments

      2. Irvu.

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