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United States Your Rights Online

P2P File Sharing Could Cost You A Bundle 1000

Posted by timothy
from the what's-on-your-hard-drive dept.
geekee writes "CNET posted an article claiming you could be liable for $250,000 in fines and up to 3 years in prison for p2p file sharing. This is due to an obscure law called the No Electronic Theft (NET) act passed in 1997 (signed by Bill Clinton). Although the Justice Department has not prosecuted anyone under this new law, some members of congress have asked John Ashcroft to begin prosecuting. In response to the request, John Malcolm, a deputy assistant attorney general, said to expect some NET Act prosecutions."
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P2P File Sharing Could Cost You A Bundle

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  • by Znonymous Coward (615009) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:46PM (#5171164) Journal
    Just don't take my porn!!!

    Long live heather brooke.

    woot.
    • Oh well, I will just have to use DirectConnect or IRC where the 431.322.12 of the Internet Privacy Act applies, it saying that if you are affiliated with any government, police, investigative, ANTI-Piracy Group, RIAA, MPAA, Universal, Fox, any other movie production company or video game company or console manufacturer or distribution company or group, or any other related group, or were formally a worker of one, you CANNOT enter. If this is violated, any evidence obtained during this violation can be thrown out of court.

      On a side note, with the average user base of Kazaa averaging over 1 million constantly not to mention the tens of millions who log in periodically, I am so sure that the US government will jail half the teenage population in the US. This is a bluff plain and simple.
      • by More Karma Than God (643953) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:26PM (#5171428)
        They can't jail everyone, but they don't have to.

        All they need to do is start jailing people and then use those cases to scare people away from the P2P networks. If they can make people afraid to share files then they destroy the reason that most people frequent the P2P networks.
      • by miratrix (601203) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:29PM (#5171450)
        You do know that there's no such thing called Internet Privacy Act [snopes.com], right?

        I'll take that as a joke. :)
      • by axxackall (579006) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:45PM (#5171547) Homepage Journal
        That's what I wonder, why to use KAZAA or Napster, centralized systems, when it can be IRC with bots (to keep indexes and to search), the decentralized system, which no single govt (perhaps even a group of govts) can stop? The system is unofficial - they cannot sue it. The system has not (usually) a single country where it is located.

        Also I wonder if it's possible to intersect and analyze any IRC/SSL (IRC over SSH) traffic? Because, if it's not possible, than I'll encrypt my filesystem and FBI can forget about any evidence.

        Well, fortunately I am not living in USA anymore and perhaps I can forget about crazy USA govt for awhile... untill slashdot will remind it again in such crazy news :)

        • by Catbeller (118204) on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:13PM (#5171704) Homepage
          "The system is unofficial - they cannot sue it."

          That isn't the point. They are not suing you to win. They are suing you to sue you.

          They will sue you, and cost you tens of thousands of dollars just to get to the point where their suit against you is thrown out. At the same time, another agent will sue you. And so forth.

          And after you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get out of the preliminary rounds, all of which you won, we'll assume, then you will be sued again. And again.

          I watched it happen before -- the Scientologists use this technical extensively. The idea of a lawsuit, according to Hubbard, was not to win, but to harrass, to intimidate, to bankrupt, to exhaust, to ruin. In advanced cases, the broken victim can even be brought on board the attacker's cause, as a requirement for cessation of legal attacks. Oh, and gag clauses for the poor schmuck is standard as well.

          Oh, and the attack has the most value as a object lesson for everyone else that the suer wants to harrass or control. The very idea that ruin can come to anyone else the attacker feels like swatting stifles resistance and give the victory to the attacker.

          And the attacker gets to keep anything of value they can seize from the victim as well.

          It's a very economical attack. One only has to ruin one or two people publicly to stop behavior one doesn't like.

          The tools required are money, organization, lawyers, and an utter lack of morality.
          • by SoupaFly (558227) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:38AM (#5172170)

            I watched it happen before -- the Scientologists use this technical extensively. The idea of a lawsuit, according to Hubbard, was not to win, but to harrass, to intimidate, to bankrupt, to exhaust, to ruin. In advanced cases, the broken victim can even be brought on board the attacker's cause, as a requirement for cessation of legal attacks. Oh, and gag clauses for the poor schmuck is standard as well.

            You've just slandered the Church! We'll see you in court. Have a nice day.

            -- I bent my Wookie

    • by goatasaur (604450) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:33PM (#5171478) Journal
      ~$60/month for cable.

      ~$500 for two 120mb hard drives.

      ~$100 worth of cd-rs (most of which I've given away).

      P2P sharing ALREADY costs me a bundle.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:47PM (#5171172)
    (signed by Bill Clinton)

    Under the new version of the bill, signed by George Bush, violaters will be declared "enemy combatants", will be stripped of all rights and will be held for life on the Guantanamo Bay military base.
    • by nursedave (634801) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:12PM (#5171341) Homepage Journal
      Although I am somewhat nervous about the idea of holding people with no demonstrable plan for their legal future, please keep in mind that every one of the Camp X-ray inmates were captured during operations in which they were fighting our troops. My sympathy is somewhat tempered by this. I live in Saudi Arabia, and see how the more extreme among them think, and they represent the tamest views among Taliban combatants.
      • by Snoopy77 (229731) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:47PM (#5171561) Homepage
        WRONG!

        An Australian man, Habib, was captured in Pakistan and took no part in the conflict in Afghanistan. His crime? He has alleged links to al-Qaeda.

        So an Australian citizen, captured in Pakistan is being held by the US, in Cuba without rights to a lawyer or even consulant visits.

        Now please explain to me why one half of the world hates the US and the other half is getting sick and tired of being told to fall into line.
    • by einer (459199) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:57PM (#5171626) Journal
      One of the dangers I can see in a law that is not applied equally (not all known violators of the law are actively pursued), is that it can be used to really screw someone you don't like. For example, say I'm a prominent member of the Green Party whom the presiding regime is looking for a way to silence. Coincidentally, I also downloaded a copy of the new N'Sync album (hey, bad taste isn't illegal. yet...). Bam. They've got me. And while they have my box, I'm sure they'll probably make sure that all my nudie pics are legal also (though apparently, even images of women who simply look to young can get you into trouble).

      So, I don't like it. Not because it's a bad law, or unfair, or whatever. Because it has the potential to be easily taken advantage of. I like that the laws against murder are enforced vigorously. I would like it if this law were too. The absolute chaos that would ensue would be worth me giving up every mp3 I've ever downloaded. I'd love to see all of the school teachers that work next door be led off in hand cuffs. Better too would be the cops that download music! I mean come on! It's a THREE YEAR SENTENCE... It MUST be serious... I would insist that this law be enforced on everyone, even cops, clergy, the elderly and my own dear Mother.

      They'll only use this law to hurt people they don't like. ("They" can be anyone that you don't like... ;) ) 3 years in jail... Yeah that's about right... In Rhiyad...

  • by fozzy(pro) (267441) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:50PM (#5171191)
    The Governmnet needs to focus on inforcing laws regarding corprate fraud, not suing minor players in pirating. This would tie up unnecesary resources that the DOJ could use to enforce say drug laws or possibly figure out a real way to protect people from terreorisim as opposed to the false security that we are presented with.
    • Oh yeah, enforcing drug laws. That's a lot better.
    • by penguinland (632330) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:42PM (#5171528)
      I agree. The government is not spending enough money and effort on the important things already. If it starts going after individuals who share music, this will detract even more resources from more important projects, such as education and the space program (in my opinion, these are important and not given nearly enough funding).

      The RIAA wants the government to do this because they want to continue to use their current business plan, which is ludicrous. They charge roughly $15 per CD. As I have downloaded music, I know that once you have the files, you can make a CD of the same quality for about 10 cents (is that what CDRs go for these days?). The RIAA claims that they also have to pay for the recording equipment and the sound engineers who mix the CDs, but while they are charging the customers for this, they are also charging the bands for it. Bands have to shell out a lot of money to get a CD made at a recording studio, and this is what covers the cost of making the CD. The money made from selling it is pure profit for the record company.

      I believe that the main reason people use P2P networks is that they cannot afford to buy all of the CDs that they want. For example, I am a college student, and cannot afford any CDs. If I could not download the music, I would just do without it. I am not depriving the record company of money by downloading their music, because I would not give them money anyway. However, if they lowered the cost of CDs, I might be able to afford it, in which case I would buy CDs. If every CD cost $5, the record company would still be making a 5000% markup on the music, but they would be affordable, so people would buy the CDs (I would!).

      The record companies have to adopt some sort of plan like this, so that the public stops complaining about the high prices of music. When the public is happy, they will buy CDs. However, the RIAA does not want to do this, because it would mean a change in their business plan, and smaller profits. Instead, they want to complain to the government until they get their way. They take up someone else's time fighting this. They make it someone else's problem. All because they don't want to charge fair prices.

      I hope the government realizes that its resources would be better spent on education, scientific research, natural disaster aid, even paying off the national debt. However, music copying is not a major concern of the government. The only reason people think it is is because the RIAA is making a big fuss over it. To them, I say, "Stop whining and deal with it yourself." I hope they figure this out soon.
  • Doh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jagilbertvt (447707) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:50PM (#5171193)
    There goes my tax refund.
  • by elite lamer (533654) <harveyswick.hotmail@com> on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:52PM (#5171204) Homepage Journal
    RIAA Executive One: How much money have we lost due to shamelessly promoting talentless bands...I mean, MP3 downloading?

    RIAA Executive Two: $250,000.

    RIAA Executive One: Great, let's invoke an obscure five-year-old law that was applied in entirely different context and fine some average Joe for $250,000.

    RIAA Executive Two: Why don't we lower the prices of CDs, since they cost practically nothing to make, to improve CD sales and regain our lost capital?

    RIAA Executive One: Ha! That's a good one, Bob! Speaking of jokes, did you hear the one about the Irish man and the horse that...
  • by DarkHand (608301) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:53PM (#5171206)
    I'm moving to Russia where it's more free.
  • by starsong (624646) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:53PM (#5171211)

    ...use Freenet. [freenetproject.org] Strong encryption and practically dripping with plausible deniability.

    Of course, there's still the "pre-dawn-raid-and-seize-hard-drive" tactic which I've heard makes that moot...

  • Nice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:53PM (#5171215)

    (a) DEFINITION OF FINANCIAL GAIN- Section 101 of title 17, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the undesignated paragraph relating to the term `display', the following new paragraph:


    `The term `financial gain' includes receipt, or expectation of receipt, of anything of value, including the receipt of other copyrighted works.'.



    Very nice. I just traded some recently-read books with my mom. Does this mean I'm gonna fry (she'll probably turn me in 'cuz she's like that)?
  • by bizitch (546406) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:55PM (#5171233) Homepage
    The problem with giving people freedom and liberty is - you never know what they're actually going to do with it.

    You know, like invent a decentralized p2p system and then trade files with it.

    How dare they!

    • by Blue Stone (582566) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @01:44AM (#5172447) Homepage Journal
      A surefire way [no guarantees etc.] to avaid prosecution: Change your Kazaa Username to "Bobby-Sue," "Stargurl," or "Spiceworld47893."

      Basically anything that suggests you're a blonde, pretty teenage girl. There's no fucking way the RIAA et al. are going to sue someone like that; the publicity would decimate them.

      Oh... you might have to stop sharing all those German Leather Dungeon mpegs, though, just to keep up the facade.
      Although, who the fuck knows what teenage girls are into these days...
  • Canada's Great eh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jclendenan (530313) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:55PM (#5171241)
    At least in our great state north of the 49th parallel we don't really have to listen to our music with the fear of the FBI coming in and arresting us for listening to music we downloaded to evaluate. Our wonderful government just takes our money from buying blank media instead.

    but it would be nice if we could get some kind of representation in the senate or congress so we could voice out conserns.

    What ever did happen to representation in government?
    • by shepd (155729) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [gro.todhsals]> on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:14PM (#5171710) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, instead I live in fear that the CRTC will kick me off the air for a lack of Canadian content, and that they'll break down my door for deciding I prefer to watch foreign satellite TV. Oh, and I have to live in fear that I'll get busted for swearing on my cellphone, or accidentally downloading hate speech.

      Them's the laws, I didn't make 'em. Fortunately, thank God, the swearing and hate speech laws aren't enforced too often. The other two are all the time, though.

      >What ever did happen to representation in government?

      We lost it when we decided to let people like the CRTC and Supreme Court make laws instead of an elected government.
  • by Kipper the Llama (454021) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:56PM (#5171242)
    Honestly, this law will never be used against the "normal" citizen. However, what should worry you is this, the law can be used to imprison or harm people who the gov't (or a malicious DA) wants out of the way.

    Let's say you have a paranoid administration like the Nixon one, or a socio-fascist one like FDR's that wants an easy way to get rid of dissidents. What's a good way? Find out that they used Kazaa a few times, and imprison them for a few years.

    This law is another example of government intrusion into your everyday life through regulation and taxes.

    "Bring back the Articles of Confederation!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:56PM (#5171247)
    ... but just not trials, perhaps.

    See Pirates With Attitude [cybercrime.gov] for one instance in which I was personally involved.

  • by secolactico (519805) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:58PM (#5171256) Journal
    File swappers are already commiting theft. This changes nothing except that it spells out the the sentences you could get.

    Even if this law didn't exist, and the feds raid your house and take your mp3 filled drive away, you are still going to be indicted.
  • Sub $1000/180 Days (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:58PM (#5171258)
    CRIMINAL INFRINGEMENT- Any person who infringes a copyright willfully either--


    (b)by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000,


    So don't let more than $1000 of stuff get up and it looks like you might slip under it.

    I might be reading that wrong, but that is how I am looking and interpeting it. IANAL of course. Of couse I am probably interpeting it wrong or taking it out of context.
    • by cgenman (325138) on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:03PM (#5171658) Homepage
      Interesting, I don't think I can buy any of the MP3's I have on my computer... They're all ripped from CD's. Does that mean the RIAA gets to set the retail CD price, and set it equivalent to the price they recently were (all but) convicted of fixing at a tremendous markup?

      If you assume 20 dollars per retail CD, with 8 songs per album, you're docked 2 and a half dollars per album. That's 400 songs, or 30 real albums (albums with more than 8 songs... Kind of like the equivalent of 421 CD Burners). If you have ripped a portion of your CD collection to your drive, that should be enough to push you over the theoretical limit, and somehow I doubt you will be able to convince the judge to look at your Kazaa preferences file to prove that you are only sharing legal fansub anime.

      On the other hand, it does say that this distribution must occur during a 180 day period, which would imply that it is not enough to just have music on your machine, but you must actively upload 400 songs in 6 months... or about two per day, irrespective of the total on your hard drive. This sort of rate would be difficult to prove, though I tend to think that judges would accept an average rate extrapolated to a long period of time, rather than requiring the justice department to tap your line for 400 songs. I've seen an older client serve more than that at a single time, but newer ones tend to throttle that to something that won't DOS itself. Still, a newer client throttled down to 3KBps, with sharing on for only one person, can theoretically serve up a song every 16 minutes. If we assume that half of the time the computer sits idle, and 80% of song transfers are aborted / fail %50 of the way through, You get a successful song transfer ($2.50) every hour and a half. If you leave your computer running all of the time (but, as previously mentioned, Kazaa only half the time), you are stealing $6,480 dollars every 180 days from Bertlesman's pockets. Assuming the previous success rates, and the minimum bandwidth / transfer settings for non-scrubs, you would need to have Kazaa running for less than 1.8 hours per day. Not terribly hard, but it is primarily a background task. Perhaps it is time to share only indies and bands with talent?

      Does Kazaa leave logs?
  • by Stonent1 (594886) <stonent@stonent. ... ark.net minus pi> on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:59PM (#5171259) Journal
    Instead of hammering redhat, Freebsd, ftp.kernel.org every time the latest and greatest is released, wouldn't it be a better use of resources to make a kazaa-like program that distributes the bandwidth of multiple mirror sites? I seem to remember something similar to this being discussed before but has anything like that been done? I actually feel kinda bad that my most "local" redhat mirror is ftp.redhat.com so I purposely rotate ftp sites to even things out.
  • Why stop? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Senator_B (605588) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:59PM (#5171261)
    " It doesn't matter if you've forsworn Napster, uninstalled Kazaa and now are eagerly padding the record industry's bottom line by snapping up $15.99 CDs by the cartload. Be warned--you're what prosecutors like to think of as an unindicted federal felon."

    So in essence, theres no reason for me to stop, now that I've already started.
  • by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:00PM (#5171268)
    "CNET posted an article claiming you could be liable for $250,000 in fines and up to 3 years in prison for p2p file sharing"

    Good thing I'm a leecher!
  • Theft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327) <fuzzybad&gmail,com> on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:04PM (#5171285)
    It is Theft if I steal a compact disk from an individual or merchant, no doubt. But..

    Is it really Theft to copy a song from a friendly stranger?

    Or if I copy a song from a friend?
    Or if I record a song off the radio?
    Or if I make my own mix recordings?

    Is criminalizing half of the population actually, "Government for the People, by the People"?
    Heil Ashcroft..
    • Fair use information (Score:4, Informative)

      by wayne (1579) <wayne@schlitt.net> on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:40PM (#5171519) Homepage Journal
      One of the problems with the fair use defense in copyright cases is that there is no clear, bright line. All of your questions have to be answered with "it depends." :- First, there are both criminal and civil penalties for copyright infringment. Criminal violations means that what you are doing is illegal and can be arrested and jailed. Civil violations "just" means that you can be sued.

      Whether you are acting legally under the fair use clause, or if you can be sued or if you can be arrested depends on things such as:

      * are you doing the copying, or are you receiving the copy?

      * Was money exchanged and/or was this part of a business?

      * Was the other person involved a friend or family?

      * Was the copying being done for educational purposes? (The more formal the education the more likely the copying will be seen as fair use.)

      * how much stuff was copied?

      * what was the commercial value of the stuff that was copied?

      * Was a copyright filed with the government? (If yes, then punative damages can be awarded, otherwise just the market value and laywer fees.)

      * Many other factors.

      The best link on the subject of fair use that I could find is: FAIR USE OF COPYRIGHTED MATERIALS [utsystem.edu].

      Most of the web pages I've found on fair used are aimed at teachers and librarians rather than people on P2P networks.

  • by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:06PM (#5171303) Homepage
    Lets ask law enforcement to prosecute the NET charges against the MPAA and RIAA agents that violate the terms of use and copyrights of websites while they search for pirated software.
  • by root(at)jdm (631269) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:09PM (#5171323) Homepage
    RTFL = Read The F'ing Law `(2) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000 You have nothing to worry about, continue file sharing!
    • From the article..


      "Also, if someone logs on to a file-trading network and shares even one MP3 file without permission in "expectation" that others will do the same, full criminal penalties kick in automatically."


      I've yet to read the law, but that would seem to indicate that you would be fscked if you used Kazaa and even traded just one mp3.
  • by jcsehak (559709) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:10PM (#5171325) Homepage
    I mean, couldn't you, if you got caught, just go out and buy the CDs that they accuse you of illegaly downloading?

    Or what if your friend, who owns the latest Eminem CD, comes over your house, downloads it and plays it for you, and then deletes it? Or rather, how can they ever prove that that didn't happen?

    I would guess that they only will prosecute people who upload stuff. Actually, I would guess that it's just a scare tactic; or maybe they'll pull a Mitnick and throw some random college kid in jail for 5 years, just to make an example of him. Yikes though.
  • by spoonboy42 (146048) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:12PM (#5171345)

    I just brought up the text of the bill. I'll give my obligatory IANAL here, but in order to be prosecuted under the bill, it looks like you must:

    Traffic copies ammounting to over $1000 in retail value within a 180 day period.

    Engage in electronic reproduction for financial gain

    So, if you aren't selling the right to download your MP3s, or burning and selling (at a profit) CD s of material you download, or even if you do these things on a very small scale, it looks like you can't be prosecuted. This law does not affect the average P2P user, it just affects people who bootleg as a business and happen to use P2P networks to accomplish their goals.

  • by Anenga (529854) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:13PM (#5171355)
    You aren't going to get thrown in the slammer for P2P File Sharing. Your going to get thrown in the slammer for illegal P2P File Sharing of copyrighted material. Granted that 99.99% of P2P File Sharing done now is illegal, it is wrong to label all P2P File Sharing as illegal.

    Just because you don't know of any legal P2P File Sharing doesn't exist. Here is Open Office v1.2 [magnet], Matrix Reloaded Superbowl Trailer [magnet], and this website [leeware.com] has a lot of legitimate P2P content including Linux Distro's. Do note that all of the content above is on the Gnutella2 Network [gnutella2.com] using Shareaza [shareaza.com].
  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:14PM (#5171359) Journal
    If you download 10101's then you let the terrorists win.

    I know lets ban the radio. You do not want to hear any copyrighted songs in which you did not pay for. After all its a public performance according to the RIAA.

    On a more serious note is it just me or was this act imposed by Clinton more targeted for mass pirates with cd copying equipment? Puting a file in a directory that is shared is not the same as bootlegging tens of thousands of copries a day and selling them on the street.

    Also what really bothered me was that one of the kids arrested so far only downloaded a single movie of star wars. He did not have any other files. Just one in which Lucas didn't like and called Clinton to bust his ass on. The reason why I am concerned is I downloaded a copy of Decss for Windows so I can rip my own dvd's that I purchased. Will I go not into the state prison but rather the maximum federal Pound my in the ass prison because of this? If I want to rip my own dvd's then its dam my own choice. I should not go to jail for it and ruin my whole life (no respectable employer would hire a convicted felon)to practice fair use. But under the dmca and now this a prosecutor can easily equit me of a serious federal crime. I dont own tens of thousands of mp3's but decss really pisses off alot of hollywood executives.

    John Ashcroft also prosecuted thousands of kiddie porn suspects under a long investigation. My guess is he is looking for movies and evil programs like decss over those with thousands of mp3's.

  • by Ytrew Q. Uiop (635593) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:17PM (#5171377)
    that Hollywood needs Digital Rights Management legislation because copyright laws lack teeth, and there are no effective means to deal with copyright violations online.

    Catching copyright violators will be a good thing for copyright reform: suddenly the same people who currently just ignore the laws will press to see them changed. Still better, the legitimate calls for copyright reform won't be drowned out or confused by the wails of spoiled teenagers who just want to grab free music.

    Copyright needs reforming, nationally and internationally. Grabbing all the music you can in violation of copyright doesn't help the cause of those who actually want to do something about the problem. Enforcing the existing laws, and getting rid of the violators can only help the cause of copyright in the long run.
    --
    Ytrew
  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mao che minh (611166) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:22PM (#5171409) Journal
    If found guilty of grand theft, the average teenager faces a small fine, the obligation to pay for any damages to the owner, and possible community service. A first time offending adult faces similar charges. The point is that the fine rendered usually never exceeds the amount stolen. Repeat offenders are given stricter penalties.

    The idea of facing even $5,000 in fines for obtaining a few hundred songs illegally should be considered ludicrous. This fine should be at the top of such a penalty, and only in extreme circumstances. A $250,000 fine for such a thing sounds, to me, simply un-American. We like our lax criminal penalties. Who does the RIAA think they are?!

  • Unpopular opinion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr_Icon (124425) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:24PM (#5171418) Homepage

    Why is this causing such an "outrage"? Stealing copyrighted material IS wrong. If you don't like it, then well, tough shit. Copyrights are there for a reason (let's forego the whole argument about Disney and never-expiring copyrights -- that's a different topic). If I own a work of art that I've put a lot of effort into, I certainly do not want it copied around without any control on my part, unless I've specifically granted everyone permission to do so by releasing it under the "free unlimited distribution allowed" license (e.g. this creative commons clause [creativecommons.org]). If you violate my copyright, then I want you punished. If you think this is unfair of me, then fart in my general direction and don't use my work. I will certainly understand and not be offended in the slightest.

    You cannot expect every artist to put their works into the public domain or license them for free distribution. That's just not how this world works, whatever your youthful idealism is telling you. Please respect people's copyrights and don't steal their works. If you do, then don't make a scene when they press charges.

    • by phr2 (545169) on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:06PM (#5171676)
      Why is this causing such an "outrage"? Stealing copyrighted material IS wrong.

      The wrongness is not that relevant--the punishment is completely disproportionate to the offense. Letting your parking meter expire is also wrong, but when we catch someone doing it, we write them a ticket. We don't send them to prison for years.

      In the P2P situation, there's no demonstration that the copyright holder actually lost the "value" of the copied works. So it's ridiculous to treat it as if that amount was actually lost, rather than (realistically) a few percent of the amount, tops. So if uploading $1000 of CD's is "theft", it's theft comparable to shoplifting a pair of blue jeans, and should be prosecuted about the same way. Also, the stuff defining downloading more stuff as "financial gain" is positively Orwellian. What we're seeing is War On Drugs Part II.

      ObLink: The Right To Read [gnu.org].

    • by oliphaunt (124016) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @01:14AM (#5172345) Homepage
      (let's forego the whole argument about Disney and never-expiring copyrights -- that's a different topic).

      Nice try, Mr. Eisner. Unfortunately, this is exactly the topic. The fact is that businesses which benefit from copyrights that don't expire are co-opting the legal processes in the USA, which is what the original post is about. This law is just an expression of a more general malaise.

      If you violate my copyright, then I want you punished. If you think this is unfair of me, then fart in my general direction and don't use my work. I will certainly understand and not be offended in the slightest.


      That's nice that you own a copyrighted work. I have the right to incorporate your work when making a parody, whether or not you are offended by it-- I think Mattel [upi.com] proved that today. But that's not the point. The point is that I used to have a second option- I could wait for you to die. Once you were dead, there was a proscribed period during which I could not use your original work- but if I was lucky enough to live 100 years after you, well after world+dog had forgotten your name and what you used to be famous for, I could take your idea and breathe life into it and bring it new relevance in my new time so that people could enjoy it again. And if I had a proper sense of humility, I could even give you credit for inspiring me.

      As it stands now, I can do all of that- but I have to pay Disney, or BMG, or SONY for the priveledge of trying to make a house on the foundation that you built, so some random fuck that neither you nor I have ever met (you've been dead for 50 years, remember?) can keep making the payments on his goddamn X5 beemer.

      You cannot expect every artist to put their works into the public domain or license them for free distribution.


      nooo-ooo, but I can expect that the Constitution of the United States should mean more than the wishes of Disney, Inc. to the lawmakers in this country. After all, that's the oath [emailyoursenator.com] they swore to when they took office. Right now, my expectations are not being met. Since I don't have the financial power to impact(read: buy the vote of) 95% of the lawmakers, especially [opensecrets.org] the ones [opensecrets.org] who [opensecrets.org] benefit the most [opensecrets.org] from 'donations' made by the content industry, I'd rather exercise my power of civil disobedience against the companies who pay for their re-election campaigns. Make 'em feel it in the pocket, dontchaknow. And I don't think that Rosa Parks intended to make a scene, I think she was just fed up by the bullshit she had to go through every day. People aren't stupid- if they learn of a better way to get to what they want, they'll take it. Right now, the record industry doesn't need more laws protecting copyright- they need someone to build a better mousetrap.

      I'd be thrilled if someone would press charges- I'd go to jail (or guantanamo) first. File sharing cases would overwhelm the courts, and the laws would be changed. I don't see change happening that way, but I guess anything is possible.

      Let's make a test case. Why don't you put your money where your mouth is? I'm not the Devil, testing your faith... Michael Eisner is the only man who can currently claim that distinction and I no longer think you're him. Send me some of this 'content' you claim to have, via Kazaa. Call it "Mr_Icon.MP3" or whatever you want. I'll download it, and then re-publish it, and you can sue me for copyright violation and charge me for criminal violation of the NET act. I'll be waiting for your reply...
  • Holy crap people (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:25PM (#5171425)
    I cant believe that the same people who will jump down the throat of someone who even smells like they violated the GNU license, can complain that someone else tries to enforce the license of another product.

    Regardless of how much you disagree with a license, doesn't make it any more right to turn around and do the same thing that you hate so much when you're on the other side.

    At the risk of being labeled a troll right off the bat, quite a number of people here seem like a bunch of whiny people who feel that they can just take what they want from other people, but their heads virtually explode when the shoe is on the other foot.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:38PM (#5171504) Journal
    CNET posted an article claiming you could be liable for $250,000 in fines and up to 3 years in prison for p2p file sharing.

    No it did not.

    It posted an article saying that you could be [etc.] for p2p file sharing of COPYRIGHTED WORKS, WITHOUT PERMISSION.

    It's just FINE to run or use a p2p network and share UNCOPYRIGHTED works or copyrighted works WITH permission.

    Let's get it RIGHT people. If we let "p2p file sharing" become synonomous with "p2p file sharing of stolen intelectual property" we've lost half the battle.

    It used to be - as with "hackers" vs. "crackers" - the mainstream media getting it wrong and tarring the good guys with the bad-guy brush, and the nerd sites getting it right but crying in the wilderness. Now we've got a mainstream site getting it right, while the slashdot posting gets it wrong.

    I can just imagine the RIAA lawyers pouncing on this article as further evidence that "the only use for p2p is theft". "See! Even they admit it!"

    So let's have a little more attention to such distinctions - from the posters, or for GOD'S SAKE at LEAST from the EDITORS!
    • by Robotech_Master (14247) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:02AM (#5171985) Homepage Journal
      Oh, come on! At least 95%, and probably more like 99%, of peer-to-peer file trading by volume is "stolen" intellectual property. There's very little demand for anything else. It's disingenuous to pretend otherwise, or to claim that one permitted file somehow makes up for a million "stolen" ones.

      The punishment is way out of proportion to the crime...but in the vast majority of cases, it is a crime.
  • by MAurelius (565652) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:54PM (#5171604)
    I have tried for years to buy several CDs that are out of print. One of them is "The Fine Art of Surfacing" by the Boomtown Rats from 1979. Here's what this CD recently sold for (used) on Ebay.(OOP=out of print)

    OOP! Boomtown Rats-Fine Art Of Surfacing CD - Item #2501717xxx Final price: $72.00 Your maximum bid: $19.00 End date: Jan-23-03 16:29 PST

    First, in re: the NET Act, what is the "retail value" of an out-of-print title? My assumption is that it is zero, otherwise the record co., in this case CBS/Sony, would market it. By my reading, this Act applies only if the copyrighted material has retail value.

    If the retail value is zero, then I don't see how this NET Act can possibly apply if I would choose to download the MP3s of the entire album and burn my own CD. Perhaps a lawyer could shed some light on this matter.

    Secondly, why won't this record co. and others wake up and see that there's obviously a market for this CD, and presumably thousands of other out-of-print titles? Why are they pissing away this revenue stream? (No pun intended) Maybe they're too busy scrambling after the next Britney?

    In the case of OOP titles, do I have to become a criminal to obtain my music or else pay $72 for a used disc on Ebay? Totally bizarre.

    • by prockcore (543967) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:29AM (#5172118)
      First, in re: the NET Act, what is the "retail value" of an out-of-print title? My assumption is that it is zero, otherwise the record co., in this case CBS/Sony, would market it.

      I think you've really got something there. It wouldn't take much to convince a jury and a judge that the value of those mp3s is $0.00 simply because it's out of print.

      Cross examining the label, "Why is this CD out of print?" "Because it wouldn't be financially benefitial to print it" "Are you saying that it would cost more to print the CD than it would make?" "Yes"

      Then while questioning you, "I understood you burned these mp3s to a CD?" "Yes" "How much did that cost you?" "50 cents" "It cost you 50 cents to create this CD?" "Yes"

      In summation, "You've heard testimony that it would cost more to print the CD than they'd make selling it. My client printed this CD for 50 cents. These mp3s are worth less than 50 cents.. I'd say my client is guilty! Guilty of stealing 50 cents. I implore the jury to right this injustice, and demand that my client pay back that 50 cents to the record label"

      The precedent set would be wonderful.
  • um... usenet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RestiffBard (110729) on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:05PM (#5171673) Homepage
    it always strikes me funny that everyone got in an uproar over p2p when we've been doing the same thing with usenet for ages. ok, usenet may be harder for the newbies to figure out. its not always point click simple, but when p2p is dead (not saying thats an inevitability) then folks will say "hey, geek, is there some other way for me to download britney spears?" so when are they gonna try to shutdown usenet? or irc? two things I enjoy far more than the p2p proggies.
  • by racerx509 (204322) on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:09PM (#5171688) Homepage
    Only thing that bothers me about this whole thing is that they supposedly say that file swapping is analgous to stealing, yet it carries a higher punishment. If I shoplift, I am not fined for 250k. What is wrong with this picture? If stealin is stealin, then punish people accordingly. I am not charged 250k if I go into a store and copy a magazine.
  • by Positive Charge (592093) on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:24PM (#5171775) Homepage
    Strategically, it's flawed. Sure stealing is stealing is stealing, but the value is so high en mass and the method of stealing is so easy (you don't even have to intrude or even interact with the person being stolen from) that people will find ways to circumvent it.

    Since (I imagine) there are literally thousands of amoral people with enough programming talent, knowledge of network protocols, and spare time, I can't see a few "test cases" putting an end to sharing.

    Essentially, the investigators will have to monitor the networks to see where files come from, then seize the computers to show that the file lists are the same as they monitored.

    If one builds an IP spoofing scheme (similar to Triangle Boy, for example) into a P2P protocol, the actual IP of the sharer could be hidden. Then reasonable doubt goes out the window.

    Prosecutions would then have to focus on the downloaders, which is a much more difficult problem because it takes quite a bit to get to the value trip points.

    (Not that I'm trying to give anyone ideas or anything or trying to suggest that there may be a degree thesis in this scheme.)
  • The Next Drug War (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Infamous Coward (642174) on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:27PM (#5171793)
    I've been waiting for this to happen for some time. We are now on the cusp of our latest suicidal "war" on our own society. I have no problem with protecting copyrights, but this law puts the Draco in draconian. Do we really want to head in this direction again? Do we really want to start locking people up for years for an arguably [openp2p.com] victimless crime? How about solving all the murders first? How about the punishment fitting the crime: perhaps a fine and restitution?
  • by Proudrooster (580120) on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:40PM (#5171867) Homepage
    `(1) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, or

    `(2) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000,


    Exactly what is a Phonorecord? Does this mean that in order to procescute, the RIAA will have to bring back vinyl records, then prove that converted your vinyl "phonorecords" to MP3, prove you shared it for 180 days, and then find the retail value of your online P2P collection to make sure it's in excess of $1000? Does the retail price take into account inflation or is the "original" retail price of the "phonorecord"? I just called Wal*Mart and tried to get the price of my "Buck Owens, Under Your Spell Again" phonorecord, but didn't have any luck.

    If they can apply this law to P2P sharing, I will be amazed. I still can't believe that the US Congress, (the government of the most technologically advanced society in the world), used the word "Phonorecords" in 1997. How embarassing. France and Germany are probably still snickering.

    As far as I am concerned, anything that came out only on "Phonorecord" should be in the public domain already. Looks like the geeks are going to have to organize a political party if we want this nonsense to stop. I vote for TUX as the party mascott.
  • by kfg (145172) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:04AM (#5171994)
    living on SS and it's petty larceny. Maximum sentence of about a year. If she wants her money back she can sue you when you get out.

    "Steal" a $.50 song from Metallica, go to jail for three years and pay a $250,000 dollar fine.

    Yeah, that sounds about right.

    KFG
  • Eh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquietNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:10AM (#5172025) Journal
    From the article:

    In 2001, a 21-year-old Michigan man named Brian Baltutat was successfully prosecuted under the NET Act for posting a mere 142 software programs on the "Hacker Hurricane" Web site.

    'Mere'?

    I didn't even know that there were 142 software programs out there worth stealing...

  • Old news?... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRealStyro (233246) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:14AM (#5172048) Homepage
    It appears this is just a rehash of the same old copyright enforcement act. You remember, that annoying FBI/Interpol warning before every movie on tape, LD and DVD. The warning that somehow never makes it into your 'archival' copy. States something about several thousand dollars in fines and possible jail time for non-archival copying of the movie.

    Want to hit these jokes where it hurts? Write a decentralized Kazaa that uses pseudo-random rotating ports and a healthy encryption mix. Make sure you use all the standard ports as well as ports for gaming systems (PS2 & Xbox). Encryption doesn't have to be too heavy - 128bit for searches and 40bit for transfers. When the court commands the ISPs to monitor traffic the ISPs have to tell the court to stick it since the DMCA (?!) won't allow cracking/breaking encrypted communications.

  • by Ogerman (136333) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @03:55AM (#5172895)
    All this P2P stuff was (originally?) supposed to fossilize the likes of the RIAA and transform the music industry into one where middlemen were eliminated, artists were (finally) fairly paid, and consumers reaped the benefits of abundant free content. But none of this happened.

    A comparable analogy would have been if the Open Source community, instead of creating their own, superior free software, had all turned into lazy warez junkies. You can't win a war relying on your enemy's resources

    So what we need is an "Open Music" revolution. But that will require educating artists who don't spend their days reading Slashdot. They need to learn that a record label deal is not the holy grail of their career, but rather in most cases, a hindrance. Artists need to treat their talent as a personal enterprise, not a raffle ticket to ride the gravy train.

    When this dream is realized, the lawsuits will end, the fascist laws will be repealed, the manufactured pop-icons will vanish, and the world will be a better place. Get to it.

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