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PIRATE Act Introduced in Congress 1049

Posted by michael
from the shiver-me-timbers dept.
certron writes "Xeni Jardin has written a story for Wired about the "Protecting Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation Act of 2004" aka the PIRATE Act. It and another related bill are designed to criminalize P2P filesharing by lowering the burden of proof for law enforcement and proposing jail terms of up to 10 years. The bill was introduced by Sens. Orrin Hatch and Patrick Leahy, both of whom received large contributions from the entertainment industries. Under the bill, even sharing a single file (if a judge decides the value is over $10,000) could land a user in jail. Read the full text of Orrin Hatch's remarks."
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PIRATE Act Introduced in Congress

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  • by The I Shing (700142) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:04PM (#8692530) Journal
    A bunch of college kids are sharing copyrighted corporate products (music and maybe movies), so we have to put them in prison because people who share music and movies online are a bunch of child molesters and terrorists. Yeah, makes sense to me.

    This is the kind of thing that Frank Zappa warned us was going to happen.

    Sure, we say it all the time, "Corporations are running the country," meaning that corporations have undue influence over lawmakers; but it's getting to the point that we're going to have to find a stronger statement, like "Corporations are completely and utterly in charge of every aspect of our daily lives, using the government and their nearly exclusive control of all media content to keep it that way." Or something shorter if we can think of it.

    Mein Gott, what can we do?
    • by LionKimbro (200000) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:08PM (#8692571) Homepage
      ...you mean, like...

      ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US! ..?

      You mean something like that?
    • by turnstyle (588788) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:10PM (#8692588) Homepage
      "This is the kind of thing that Frank Zappa warned us was going to happen."

      Well, Frank's widdow protects [yahoo.com] her copyright interests in Frank's works...

      • by The I Shing (700142) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:16PM (#8692644) Journal
        You're right, she does. Gail Zappa goes after cover bands who use Frank Zappa's name, forcing them to take all references and photos of him off of their websites and their flyers. The most they can do is say something like 'Performing the music of FZ" or "...the music of a guy named Frank," and the whole thing starts to look ridiculous.

        Really, to smother Frank Zappa's name and image under a mountain of lawyers like that seems kind of odd, especially considering how much disdain the man himself had for the music industry's choke-hold on everything.

        Oh, well.
    • by Faust7 (314817) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:14PM (#8692626) Homepage
      "Corporations are completely and utterly in charge of every aspect of our daily lives,

      Well, in some sense they always will be. We're consumers, the objects of our consumption need an origin, and corporations are that origin. How they choose to design products, manufacture products, market products, and lobby for legislation regarding products will always exert an incredible level of completely transparent control over our lives.

      It's up to individual consumers to render that control opaque -- but total opacity is very, very, very difficult.
      • by AmigaAvenger (210519) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:21PM (#8692681) Journal
        we USED to be consumers, that is the old model of thinking at least. The current trend is that once a industry has a stranglehold on the consumer, we become the enemy, the opponent, since no natural opponent no longer exists.

        think of all the current examples of the huge media conglomerates which are doing things to screw the consumer. what is stopping them... nothing. consumer backlash no longer means anything.

        • by clifyt (11768) <sonikmatter@gmai ... minus physicist> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:05PM (#8693005) Homepage
          "We USED to be consumers, that is the old model of thinking at least. The current trend is that once a industry has a stranglehold on the consumer, we become the enemy, the opponent, since no natural opponent no longer exists."

          We become the enemy when we are no longer consuming, but also competing.

          P2P is competition, not consuming.

          Face it, the average consumer out there really doesn't understand what goes into making a product -- even folks that SHOULD know what goes in to a product claim that since its all easily reproduced electronic bits, there really isn't any value in it.

          When consumers start being competitors with no way of stopping them, something needs to change.

          Think about it this way -- if one or two folks go into a store and shoplift, its a problem. BUT if they get caught, they get a light sentence. Now, what if hundreds went into stores and shoplifted as if it were institutional values? Several magnitudes above previous levels. Folks believed that they would never get caught because the law enforcement couldn't deal with this crime. So, what does law enforcement do knowing they can't police everything? They put a few shoplifters to death...err...a good deal bigger punishment than is really appropriate for the level of the damage *THEY* did...it would be a deterent.

          The laws are not just there to punish the guilty, but to be a deterent. Sometimes one has to make an example of someone just to stop others.

          Then again, I could just be a bit pissed off right now. I just found out last night some dumb motherfucker is selling software I sell to keep my website alive for $14 on eBay. He packaged about $100 worth of my software (as well as others that do sound design that I'm friends with), and claiming that he should be free to do it because he's not really making a profit -- he's only recouping his cost from burning the discs and sending them out. And thats not even the levels of P2P -- so far, according to his profiles, its only 2 dozen people that will never need to buy my stuff because they have it for almost free.

          Theft is theft. If thieves were going into each and every one of your neighbors houses day and ripping them off every day, I can guarentee there will be some dead thieves and a lot of people applauding -- well except for the thieves who will be claiming that civil rights are being taken away and everyone else is a bunch of nazis.

          If you want to talk about huge conglomerates screwing over the average consumer, you better be sure that the average consumer isn't fucking things up for those few honest consumers out there first...
          • by richieb (3277) <`richieb' `at' `gmail.com'> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:24PM (#8693140) Homepage Journal
            Theft is theft.

            Correct. But copyright violation is not theft. If it were, we wouldn't need new laws. Theft is already illegal.

            Read about the use of words here [gnu.org]

          • by zerocool^ (112121) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @03:05AM (#8694159) Homepage Journal
            Theft is theft. If thieves were going into each and every one of your neighbors houses day and ripping them off every day, I can guarentee there will be some dead thieves and a lot of people applauding -- well except for the thieves who will be claiming that civil rights are being taken away and everyone else is a bunch of nazis.

            If you want to talk about huge conglomerates screwing over the average consumer, you better be sure that the average consumer isn't fucking things up for those few honest consumers out there first...


            Theft is theft. Peer-to-Peer is not theft.

            If you have an apple, and I take it away from you, the number of apples in the global sense has not changed; the change is purely relative: I have one more apple than I had previously, and you have one less apple than you had previously.

            If, on the other hand, you have an apple, and I clone the apple, the global number of apples has increased. You have not lost an apple, but I have gained one.

            There is no theft involved in the 2nd.

            I'm not going to try and claim to you that you're in the wrong here. It would fall on deaf ears anyway. However, if I asked you to prove that you're losing money because of P2P or whatever, you'd have to show that everyone that "pirates" your software would have bought it in the first place.

            I.E. if I download a copy of Maya or something off of a P2P network, I know that I have done something illegal (copyright infringement), however, I also know that the company has lost no money from this act, as I would never have bought it in the first place.

            Please remember two things about peer-to-peer:

            1.) The vast majority of illegally copied software and multimedia files would not have been purchased at the asking price; therefore corporations in reality lose very little money.
            2.) Very few pieces of software are worth the asking price, and even fewer corporations need the price that they're asking. It is this exhuberant overpricing that drives many people to download.

            Case in point: It is illegal to download photoshop. It is also absolutely absurd that it costs $600. It's not worth $600, and Adobe doesn't need $600 per copy.
            Case 2 in point: Windows. It is illegal to download windows. It is also absurd how much money it costs - $100 per copy. Times millions of copies a year. Microsoft doesn't need that money. Microsoft has $36,000,000,000 in the bank, in cash. If they never, ever sold another piece of software, they could continue as a corporation, and pay all of their employees at their current salary rates, solely on the interest of the money they have.

            So, in closing. Downloading software is illegal. Fucking consumers is immoral.

            ~Will
        • by cgenman (325138) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:41PM (#8693253) Homepage
          consumer backlash no longer means anything.

          Most of the people I know consider P2P a form of nonviolent protest. It's a way of voicing our discontent with the way our consumerist society corners us with the belief that there are no alternatives. Well there are alternatives, many of them, and no matter what the rich white men in suits may believe we can actualize these alternatives into something they can't touch! P2P is our protest! P2P is our power, our voice, our constitutionally protected free speech! Outlawing P2P is outlawing free speech!

          Well, not really. But that argument is no dumber than what has been coming out the the copyright companies. Like saying that in an economy that is down %10 due to a massive worldwide recession record sales are down %10 because of... computers. Or that the value of a copy of a song which the sell for 4 dollars suddenly becomes 10,000 dollars because it was put on a P2P network. Or that computer hacking is terrorism and terrorism is treason and treason is punishable by death but hacking to protect copyrights is a noble form of copyprotection and stopping someone from hacking to protect their copyright is a violation of the DMCA.

          Sigh. All I want is a little sanity in our legal system.

    • by handy_vandal (606174) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:30PM (#8692747) Homepage Journal
      Sure, we say it all the time, "Corporations are running the country," meaning that corporations have undue influence over lawmakers; but it's getting to the point that we're going to have to find a stronger statement, like "Corporations are completely and utterly in charge of every aspect of our daily lives, using the government and their nearly exclusive control of all media content to keep it that way."

      Social evolution in action: corporations are more efficient -- better adapted to their environment -- than nation-states.

      Nation-states, in their day, were more efficient than kingdoms; which were more efficient than city-states; which were more efficient than tribes; which were more efficient than individuals.

      I don't like it, but I accept that it's nature's way: the strong flourish, the weak fail.

      Mein Gott, what can we do?

      About corporate power? We can do nothing.

      Live your life well, try to bring more love than hate into the world. That's all. No big stuff -- no Revolution, no Topple the State, no Stop the Corporations. Work to your scale, as an individual; the rest is History.

      -kgj
      • by CrookedFinger (261255) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:39PM (#8692817) Homepage
        Or you could continue to take part in the development of newer, more distributed models of power that are more efficient than large corporations...
      • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:11PM (#8693046)
        Corporations are more efficient at creating wealth than nation-states, but they are essentially just an expression of capitalist tribalism within the nation-state. They aren't necessarily or always more efficient at maximizing happiness or utility or any of the other measures of what is "good" in the world than the nation-state.


        Laissez faire wasn't handed to us by the gods, and it doesn't necessarily maximize utility within the nation-state to adopt that position. I don't have an answer to the other poster's challenge about providing better alternatives to the corporate structure for efficiently organizing economic resources, except to note that especially in the centers of wealth, we are moving to a service-based economy in this country. And services are often better performed in semi-collaborative trade groups or professional service corporations, like legal partnerships and medical practices. I'd love to see better structures for organizing larger, product-oriented companies, such as networks of collaborating service or trade groups that cooperate for mutual economic benefit.

        • by fferreres (525414) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @12:11AM (#8693411)
          Corporations are more efficient at creating wealth than nation-states

          Correction: Corporations and their laws are more efficient at extracting wealth. They do not necesarily create wealth. For example, a company can be granted a monopoly, and become the most valued company on earth (Microsoft as one of the examples). But that does not create wealth at all. They are charging you more than they are offering in return, because you or your other companies have no other option than to pay the extra "price". And all other companies and their citizens earn less. The thing becomes worst with patents, as they can not only extract wealth from everyone else, they can STOP progress by laying mines of restriction on what everyone else in the world can do. That's not only granted by the pantents themselves, but by the assimestric nature of justice (big company dumps 100 millons in lawers and you have to defend yourself with much less...in effect).

          So no, companies PER SE, are not better at creating wealth, only humans create wealth, after all, it's all our work.
      • by RickHunter (103108) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:19PM (#8693104)

        Congradulations, are you happy being part of the problem?

        Ignore anyone who tells you that you can't do anything. That you're powerless. That its inevitable, that its good for you. Ignore anyone that tells you to sit down, shut up, and eat whatever shit they feed you. Because they're wrong. You can do something, and that's what they're scared of. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.

        And no, corporate power isn't better-adapted to its environment than nation-states. To be more specific, Darwinian theories of evolution do NOT apply, as there IS NO ENVIRONMENT. What we have here is a power grab by a small segment of the population, one trying to return us to the "glory days" of late-19th-century Industrial Feudalism. The fact that they're using a philosophy as weak and repulsive as Social Darwinism to support their position is just the icing on the cake.

      • by petabyte (238821) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:21PM (#8693123)
        You're misusing the definition of a nation-state. A nation is a group of people that feel like they belong together as a group. A state is large government agency. Americans are a nation that have a state. You don't have to have a state to be a nation though - the Palestinans are a nation as are the Kurds (I tried to avoid those examples due to the feelings involved but couldn't think of nothing else).

        Anyway, getting back to the matter - a kingdom can be a nation-state, as can a city-state for that matter. The question really becomes how big a group of people do you need to have to be a "nation" but thats neither here nor there.

        Live your life well, try to bring more love than hate into the world. That's all. No big stuff -- no Revolution, no Topple the State, no Stop the Corporations. Work to your scale, as an individual; the rest is History.

        That quote is deeply disturbing. I can't tell if you're playing Snowball in Animal Farm or the Ministry of Truth in 1984. I'm not about to advocate revolution but sitting back and letting others decide your life has to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard.
      • by Kirijini (214824) <kirijini AT yahoo DOT com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:37PM (#8693222)
        Bullshit.

        Regardless of your claim that corporations are more efficient than nation states (which is a whole other argument, and is like comparing apples to oranges), I dispute that we should accept corporations as our government. Why? Because I believe that the best government is that which is for the people, and responsible to them. Efficiency is totally irrelevant - the question of what is the best government is a question of morals, beliefs, passions, and theology, not mathematics and work-motion studies.

        Furthurmore, resolving that, since you are an individual, you have neither influence nor potential for influence at a national level is dead-end thinking and as repulsive a philosophy as handing government over to corporations. I could point out that people in power are individuals, and such an empirical argument is enough refutation, but taking it to a normative level is more satisfying: You can say that small scale things, like helping people out of a burning building, or giving directions to lost people, are good and important, but involving yourself in a cause you believe will improve everyones lives, like participating in a campaign to roll back the influence of corporations in national politics, is inherently superior in goodness and importance. I hate to quote a movie here, but "The greatest evil is the indifference of good men."

        And finally, it isn't social evolution, it'd be political evolution.
      • by fferreres (525414) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @12:02AM (#8693343)
        We can do nothing.

        Yes we can, and we will (I hope). Look at your evolution trend:

        Individuals -> Tribes -> Cities -> Kingdoms -> Countries...

        Now follow the line of reasoning: ... Countries -> Multicountry pseudo governments (like EU) -> World Government

        The trend is for organizations to become wider. The day many people WORLDWIDE are fucked up, because capital respects no country, and cares about nobody, is the day that you'll begin to see a push for a worldwide government that can regulate capitalists worldwide...they will have nowhere to hide.

        Some thing will be governed worldwide, some others in a regional way, just like Federal and State governments can peacefully coexist, so will countries. But the shift will not be swift...

        The other alternative is that 99% of the population become slaves or exterminated (less jobs available than people, remember automation?).

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:49PM (#8692889)
      I once laughed at the way OCP ran everything in Robocop.

      I've stopped laughing...
    • by C10H14N2 (640033) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:52PM (#8692917)
      What is going on is that even the evil forces of people like Orrin Hatch are realizing that criminal penalties are _not_ appropriate, that branding "otherwise law-abiding" people as felons for something that is individually rather trivial, but on a massive scale certainly non-trivial. It would behoove people to at least give them the credit for that observation rather than run headlong into Orwellian nightmares. Frankly, I don't feel sorry for anyone involved in this argument. No one is forcing you to play their game, but if you want their products, it shouldn't surprise you that they will do everything to ensure that you play by their rules.

      What are we to do? Ignore them. Don't steal their products. Don't buy their products. Don't even listen to or watch their products wherever they might be. In the end, maybe by ignoring them for long enough they'll all go broke and die. In the meantime, get out of the damned house, go to a pub and throw your sheckles in the hats of your local musicians who really DO need the money. Buy their CDs. If you have a business, sponsor their gigs. You might even enjoy life a little more in the process.
    • by Ridgelift (228977) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:06PM (#8693016)
      This is the kind of thing that Frank Zappa warned us was going to happen. Sure, we say it all the time, "Corporations are running the country," meaning that corporations have undue influence over lawmakers; but it's getting to the point that we're going to have to find a stronger statement...

      Take a look at The Corporation [thecorporation.tv] as a stronger statement. Here's the synopsis:

      "Considering the odd legal fiction that deems a corporation a "person" in the eyes of the law, the feature documentary employs a checklist, based on actual diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and DSM IV, the standard tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. What emerges is a disturbing diagnosis.

      Self-interested, amoral, callous and deceitful, a corporation's operational principles make it anti-social. It breaches social and legal standards to get its way even while it mimics the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism. It suffers no guilt. Diagnosis: the institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a psychopath
      ."

      Bill Gates might not be psychotic, but his "person" the Microsoft Corporation is a psychopath if there ever was one. Add also the RIAA, MPAA, SCO...psychopath, psychopath, psychopath.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:04PM (#8692536)
    sometimes it is just so blatantly obvious that people will go to great lengths to contrive clever acronyms despite the obvious redundancies within the actual expanded title.

    come on now.
  • Scary (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:05PM (#8692542)
    Under the bill, even sharing a single file (if a judge decides the value is over $10,000) could land a user in jail

    Given the strength of the dollar these days, that's like the price of a single Anne Murray CD...
  • by xactoguy (555443) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:05PM (#8692545)
    Honestly, the prisons are full enough as it is with petty criminals, if they even attempt to enforce these they are going to fill them up even faster. And, who wants to put in jail? If this gets passed and starts getting actively enforced, hopefully someone is going to stand up against this. I hope you've all donated to EFF lately...
    • by MacFury (659201) <me AT johnkramlich DOT com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:21PM (#8692679) Homepage
      and, who wants to put in jail?

      I think you meant to ask, "who wants to put everyone in jail?"

      Prison is a booming industry. People make massive amounts of money keeping others locked up. Prison's even have lobbyists to help guide harsher laws.

      Of course, rich people seldom go to jail. Congressmen and high ranking government officials are rich and abstracted from the common man. They could care less about you. You're just dollar signs to them.

    • by maeka (518272) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:23PM (#8692691) Journal
      If you would read the linked articles you could see past the hype and realize that this proposed law is an attempt to punish file sharers through fines not jail time.

      From Sen. Hatch's comments: (emphasis mine)

      It is critical that we bring the moral force of the government to bear against those who knowingly violate the federal copyrights enshrined in our Constitution.
      But many of us remain concerned that using criminal law enforcement remedies to act against these infringers could have an overly-harsh effect, perhaps, for example, putting thousands of otherwise law-abiding teenagers and college students in jail and branding them with the lifelong stigma of a felony criminal conviction.

      The bill I join Senator Leahy in sponsoring today will allow the Department of Justice to supplement its existing criminal-enforcement powers through the new civil-enforcement mechanism. As a result, the Department will be able to impose stiff penalties for violating copyrights, but can avoid criminal action when warranted.


      I'm not going to use the T word (theft), but let me just say that the casual breech of copyright is getting out of hand, and getting more and more government attention. Shouldn't we (American) Slashdotters be glad that Congress is discussing a law that increases civil penalties instead of making copyright infringement a criminal offense? With the MPAA and RIAA's tactics increasingly blurring that line between civil and criminal offense, I find that this law actually makes a sane and calm attempt to address the problem.

      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:37PM (#8692800) Homepage
        let me just say that the casual breech of copyright is getting out of hand

        I agree. The solution is not to punish infringement, it is to increasingly legalize infringement so that people's behavior need not significantly change, but they get to stay on the right side of the law.

        It's a lot like prohibition. People totally ignored the law, and not only was the law bad by itself, but by being so especially bad, it gave a big boost to organized crime and fostered disrespect for the law.

        Laws aren't automatically entitled to respect. They have to deserve respect by being sensible. There was little large scale infringement prior to the 1976 Act in no small part due to the fact that people didn't have a problem with complying with the law. Our laws today are so awful that of course no one obeys them.

        I find that this law actually makes a sane and calm attempt to address the problem.

        The people are not the problem. This law is just going to make things worse.
        • by mirio (225059) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @12:45AM (#8693612)

          I agree. The solution is not to punish infringement, it is to increasingly legalize infringement so that people's behavior need not significantly change, but they get to stay on the right side of the law.

          I agree completely for but for different reasons. I don't think laws should be ammended/discarded to keep people on the right side of the law. I do believe, however, that people are voting with their actions. People believe that casual, not-for-profit petty copying of copyrighted works should not be a crime. Can you name any other "crime" 30 million US citizens are guilty of? This bill would be...no...IS the ultimate in violation of the oath of public office. These politicians vow to represent the people of their districts and they think that the way to do this is to ignore the will of the people, pay close attention to the wishes of their contributors. The politicans of course know what's better for us than we do.
  • Oh good... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quaoar (614366) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:06PM (#8692558)
    So now the prison system will be keeping DANGEROUS FILE SHARERS off the streets, while at the same time Los Angeles is releasing thousands of prisoners early becuase of a lack of funding. I'm sure glad that John Q. Empeethree won't be hassling our celebrities anymore! Whew!
  • by aynrandfan (687181) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:08PM (#8692569)

    This is from Hatch's own site . . .

    - Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today joined Ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) in introducing the "Protecting Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation Act" (the "PIRATE Act") to allow the Department of Justice to exercise its existing enforcement powers through a civil, rather than criminal, enforcement proceeding.

    Does anyone need more proof that the Republicans and Dems have become just two sides of the same coin? After this, I don't trust them to do much of anything right. *sigh*

  • by Faust7 (314817) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:08PM (#8692570) Homepage
    Tens of thousands of continuing civil enforcement actions might be needed to generate the necessary deterrence.

    I'll be damned if that doesn't sound just a bit like SCO.
  • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:09PM (#8692582) Homepage
    Last I checked copyright infringement was still illegal. Does society need more laws that state copyright infringement with P2P is now illegal? ... I mean honestly P2P development is strict freedom of speech. Not to mention the good that comes from it [e.g. BitTorrent].

    Laws like this make me proud to live in a backwards country such as Canada.

    Tom
  • Bad idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ameoba (173803) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:10PM (#8692586)
    Any law that simultaniously lowers the burdens of proof while raising penalties seems like a fundamnentaly bad idea.

    Tho, I guess after the War on Drugs put a generation of poor & minority youth in prision, they have to do something that has the same effect on whites & the middle class, lest they look racist (not an easy trick for a Republican from Utah to pull off).
  • It's time (Score:5, Funny)

    by ericdano (113424) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:10PM (#8692590) Homepage
    It's time to start outsource all that file sharing......just like all these companies are outsourcing jobs......
  • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:11PM (#8692600)
    DMCA... PIRATE... Who do you think owns your country? I don't mean to offend you geeks in the US and EU, but your governments perpetually place the interests of large corporations above citizens. Your government is not acting in your best interest. Tell your elected officials that you disagree with what they are supporting, and command them to stop.
  • by LionKimbro (200000) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:13PM (#8692619) Homepage
    "It is critical that we bring the moral force of the government to bear against those who knowingly violate the federal copyrights enshrined in our Constitution."

    Yeah. I'll feel guilty about it, when the fed actually proves that copyrights exist in order to [wikipedia.org] "promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

    It sure doesn't feel like limited times.

    You've heard it before. And you'll hear it many times over again.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:35PM (#8692781)
      Congress has altered the time span for copyrights a minimum of 40 times. At this point, the current limit is 95 years. Effectively, that is approaching unlimited, as any work created within our lifetime cannot be utilized effectively to promote the idea of the creator by anyone.

      With congress's actions in increasing limits every time Valenti gives them a few bucks, the copyrights have, for all intents and purposes, become perpetual.

      Even the British had more sense than that, with Queen Annes copyright limits taking precedent over the booksellers objections. Pity Congress cannot look past their campaign account, and look instead to the rights of the people of the US.

      Copyright extensions at this point in time defeat the desire of the framers of the constitution, and thus are unconstitutional. By making copyright limits (de jure) unlimited, they have failed to uphold the constitution.

      14 year old Johnny, sitting at home listening to downloaded music is not a terrorist, nor a pornographer, nor a criminal. The real criminals are the congressmen who vote by proxy for Jack Valenti and The MPAA/RIAA cartel, to perpetuate a legalistic imagery that is basically feudal in concept.

      Jack Valenti represents the most malicious, vicious, and virulent breed of terrorist this planet has seen. With one stroke of a pen, he can pay congress to enact a minimum of 60 million American citizens into the ranks of the criminal. Your rights are reduced, as you are obviously a criminal, and you have no recourse, as you cannot afford $250.000 for a defense.

      Jack Valenti is a traitor to the constitution of the United States, and should be arrested, charged, and tried for that treason.

    • by smchris (464899) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:35PM (#8693209)
      It's gotten pretty interesting in a purely scholarly way. We have a backlogged stockpile of literally 100 years of audio and video entertainment now. I mean, how much can a person consume? Entertainment _should_, by economic laws of supply and demand, be as cheap as tap water.

      Ergo, draconian protectionism. Something has to give.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:14PM (#8692628)
    Million and millions of Americans take part in the sharing of illegal programs/music/movies on the internet, often without their knowledge. At the risk of sounding hackneyed, this kind of law makes it even easier for "Big Brother" to throw potential troublemakers in jail.
  • by gaijin99 (143693) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:15PM (#8692637) Journal
    Prison sentences for non-violent crimes seem like a bad idea from every angle I look at them. Prison sentences for stealing a single copy of the new Madonna song sound incredibly stupid.

    "Sharing" music on a P2P network is stealing, yes, but under what odd twisting of logic can it be worse than shoplifting the CD?

    We are seeing the music industry going steadily more insane every day, and when something with that much money goes mad life gets interesting. Piracy isn't right, but it is inevitable during the transition between the RIAA and whatever distribution/compensation model we invent to replace it. Draconian laws with punishments as inappropriate as this one wants are definately not the solution to theft of music.

    I find it especially ironic that the same congress that can't seem to punish the aristocrats who steal millions from their employees wants to send people to jail for up to ten years for stealing a little music...

  • by Roger Keith Barrett (712843) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:16PM (#8692646)
    ...the P2P companies are trying to ransom the entertainment industries into accepting their networks as a distribution channel and source of revenue.

    This is HILARIOUS! They're accusing P2P "companies" of trying to get a monopoly on music distribution? Isn't that a little like Napoleon accusing Hitler of being a dictator? Holy tamoly, these guys got balls.

    Secondly... the fact that they use "companies" shows once again that they don't get it. Computer networks don't have to be sponsored by companies! These lawmakers are so deluded that they not only do they allow corporations to overrun the country, they refuse to acknowledge that indviduals even exist anymore.

    It gets worse every day...
  • by plankers (27660) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:19PM (#8692668) Homepage
    The way to stop this sort of thing is to be a constituent of Hatch or Leahy. If you are one, make it clear to them that they will not get re-elected with behaviour like this. And then tell your neighbors, friends, coworkers, etc. what these two guys are up to, and ask them outright to never vote for them again.

    The rest of the country cannot get these two corrupt, entertainment industry pawns out of office. Only Vermont and Utah residents can. Do not re-elect these two. While it might seem they are doing good, they are doing long-term damage to the country, including your states.

    Send a message to Leahy [senate.gov]

    Send a message to Hatch [senate.gov]

    Please do it now before these two turn the U.S. citizens into entertainment industry criminals and slaves, and infect every other nation with these ideas.

  • A serious question. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:20PM (#8692677) Homepage
    Out of curiousity.

    Some time ago on Slashdot the possibility of a "geek PAC" was discussed.

    This is a quesiton somewhat along the same lines. Essentially:

    Exactly how much money would it require to do whatever necessary to* remove Mr. Orrin Hatch from a position of legislative power in the United States government?

    I think you could find a variety of private citizens, from a number of corners, who would be ecstatic to donate to such a cause, due to the probable benefit it would have in terms of protecting the civil rights, artistic expression, and technological progress of this nation. Slashdotters annoyed at his attempts to introduce increasingly violent anti-file-sharing bills are just the tip of the iceberg.

    * legally
  • Yay us! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot@NOsPam.spad.co.uk> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:27PM (#8692723) Homepage
    Slashdotting the US Senate webserver - that's got to be a new high point for /.
  • amazing,, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Roger Keith Barrett (712843) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:27PM (#8692724)
    It's really amazing...

    When jobs are oursourced overseas or we bring people in with H1 visas they tell us "let the free market decide" and that we shouldn't be "protectionist."

    But when one of their corporate buddies starts to have a problem, they pull out the guns. It goes for music as well as drug companies (not allowing us to reimport drugs from Canada is definitely protectionist).

    Boy... how long can any of us hold out faith in our government?
  • Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Azureflare (645778) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:29PM (#8692742)
    Now, what does this bill accomplish?

    Does it go after the big time pirates?

    No, because those big time pirates are in other countries.

    This bill will enable companies to destroy families by throwing the 16 year old kid in jail for sharing expensive applications.

    What harm are file sharers doing to society? Why does their action warrant time in court and/or prison?

    I fail to see how this will even help corporations who see piracy as a problem. Often the reason people download expensive software is because they can't afford the price. Sure, that's no excuse, BUT will those companies see increased revenue as result of these actions?

    So, what does throwing these kids in jail accomplish?

    It just makes our government look like it is under the thumb of the corporate world.

    Actually, I think this is good, in a way. Perhaps it will start to move more people towards Open Source applications, where downloading software is not illegal. I honestly think the reason Windows is so popular is because of the initial ability of users to easily pirate the operating system.

    I pray for a day in which people will not be put in jail for downloading programs. Perhaps 2005 really is the year of linux?

  • by humblecoder (472099) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:36PM (#8692799) Homepage
    If you are going to criticize the PIRATE act, first do your homework and learn about it.

    The PIRATE Act bill, the one sponsored by Sens Hatch and Leahy, gives the DOJ the power to pursue civil cases against file sharers. According to the article and Sen Hatch's remarks, it does not have the provisions about "up to 10 years in prison" or any of that stuff. According to the article, those provisions are part of a draft bill that hasn't been introduced. The description in the slashdot posting imply that these provisions are part of the PIRATE Act, which they are not.

    It may seem like splitting hairs, but if you start writing to your Congresspeople about the PIRATE Act, you will have more credibility if you actually know what you are talking about. If you start talking about provisions that aren't even in the bill, your letter will probably receive very little, if any, consideration.
  • huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ender77 (551980) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:41PM (#8692837)
    Weird, Part of it says that more powers needs to be given to law enforcement to combat "Piracy" but then it contridictoraly says that, most antipiracy legislation has been unseccessfull. Um, whats the point then?

    Also, out of the blue it suddenly throws in pornography? What is it about republicans and this constant crusade to stop porn? Someone please contact this fool and tell him that PORN IS NOT ILLEGAL! Sorry, when they start going after our porn, thats when they have GONE TOO FAR! :)
  • by Saeger (456549) <farrellj @ g mail.com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:43PM (#8692845) Homepage
    The media cartels are obviously getting desperate if the best they can come up with is attempting to buy more draconian business-model-preservation law. First the DMCA and the NetAct, and now this.

    I mean, 10 years for "expropriating" the potential sale of proprietary data that a judge deems "worth" more than $10,000? Give me a break. Actually, they probably will give me a break; 10 years is more than they want, and they'll compromise downward a bit for what they really wanted in the first place.

    Still, the chilling effect of a law like this would only hasten the inevitable development of more secure P2P, and the spread of open source and open content [creativecommons.org].

    Enforcing perpetual copyright is next to impossible [firstmonday.dk] without a global police state, and I'm much more likely to fund the Bruce Perens and Corey Doctorows of the world because they've earned my respect by choosing open licenses over the default "AllmineMineMINE!(C)(R)!".

    --

  • by zakezuke (229119) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:45PM (#8692861)
    America has enough in the way of issues with giving kids something to do. Dance clubs, live bands, and many forms of entertainment are 21+ only. This lack of entertainment gets worse the smaller the town.

    I have nieces and nephews, and one thing I show them how to do is get media online. It sure beats drinking, doing drugs, and generally getting into trouble. Making what I perceive as a wholesom activity a criminal act will result in one less thing to do. Why risk 10 years in jail when you can just smoke some pot and risk only 2 years in jail?
  • by macdaddy (38372) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:51PM (#8692909) Homepage Journal
    For those that are interested...

    Orrin Hatch [opensecrets.org]: TV/Movies/Music $152,360

    Patrick Leahy [opensecrets.org]: TV/Movies/Music $178,000

  • by kaltkalt (620110) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:59PM (#8692961)
    Remember when the Do-Not-Call anti-telemarketing registry was challenged by the terrorist marketing agencies and Billy Tauzin, chair of the House Commerce Committee, remarked that "50 million Americans cannot be wrong" (referring to the 50 million Americans who signed up for the Do-Not-Call Registry)? Well, taking that statement at face value, twice that many Americans download music off of the internet, so therefore downloading copyrighted material cannot be wrong simply because the threshold 50 million Americans do it. Of course, 50 million Americans can be wrong and usually are wrong, but at least with the telemarketing bill Congress was listening to the people. That's its job. Here, Congress is listening to special interest groups whose interests are anathema to much more than 50 million Americans. One more thing to notice is that the PIRATE Act, like all restrictive copyright legislation (such as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) that assfuck the rights of Americans, is sponsored by both a Republican and a Democrat. Screwing us on this issue is always a bipartisan affair. That's why these bills are never campaign issues. No matter which party you vote for, you are going to get screwed unless you are the RIAA or MPAA.
  • From Hatch's website (Score:5, Interesting)

    by focitrixilous P (690813) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:35PM (#8693204) Journal
    Indeed, our government recognizes that its enforcement powers are appropriate when protecting intellectual property and public safety. Recently, in a speech to the United States Chamber of Commerce, Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, Jr. asserted that the Department of Justice should assist private enforcement of intellectual property rights if any of three criteria are met: (1) the level of piracy becomes particularly egregious; (2) public health and safety are put at risk; or (3) private civil remedies fail to adequately deter illegal conduct.

    When would that be? People aren't going around killing each other with p2p applications, nor do I know how that is even possible. What a moron. Let's put the blame on terrorism, way to go.
  • by Safety Cap (253500) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @12:23AM (#8693496) Homepage Journal
    "The `Protecting Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation Act of 2004' (aka the PIRATE Act) is designed to criminalize P2P filesharing by lowering the burden of proof for law enforcement and proposing jail terms of up to 10 years."

    This article advocates a

    ( ) technical (x) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

    approach to fighting copyright violation. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work.
    (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may
    have other flaws based upon your lack of understanding how the internet works.)

    (x) People outside the reach of US law can easily continue to swap copyrighted works
    ( ) Networking and other legitimate p2p uses would be affected
    ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or slam him in the clink
    (x) It is defenseless against encryption/sourcehiding
    ( ) It will stop p2p sharing for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    ( ) Users of p2p networks will not put up with it
    ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    ( ) Requires too much cooperation from ISPs
    ( ) Assumes that no Freenet-style p2p networks will be developed
    ( ) Many p2p filesharers are children; when you bust them they will be paraded on TeeVee as an example of government excess
    ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

    Specifically, your plan fails to account for

    ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    (x) Lack of centrally controlling authority for the internet
    ( ) Open p2p networks in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of developing circumventive technology
    ( ) Asshats
    (x) Jurisdictional problems
    ( ) Unpopularity of weird new laws
    ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    ( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches
    ( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    ( ) Eternal arms race involved in all monitoring approaches
    ( ) Extreme availability of copyrighted files online
    ( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    (x) Technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) Extreme intelligence of people who will fight you
    ( ) Kazaa

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    ( ) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
    ( ) Any scheme based on filename matching is unacceptable
    (x) Network protocols should not be the subject of legislation
    ( ) Witchhunts suck
    (x) We should be able to trade indi songs (that they themselves post to p2p) without being busted
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    ( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    ( ) Sharing any non-copyrighted files should be allowed
    ( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    ( ) Incompatibility with open source or open source licenses
    (x) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    ( ) Roving bands of vigilantes tend to attack more innocent people than those who are committing crimes
    ( ) I don't want the government monitoring my net access
    (x) Supporting a failed business model via the legal system is not sustainable over the long term (see SCO)

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    ( ) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    (x) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
  • by thisissilly (676875) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @12:50AM (#8693645)
    This is about Justice Department doing criminal prosecutions against P2P filesharers -- that means the RIAA/MPAA no longer have to foot the bill for lawyers to sue Joe Shmoe (x10000). Instead, as a criminal matter, the cost is born by the Justice Department, hence the US taxpayer winds up having to pay the bill, no matter how many lawyers it will take.

    Winners and losers:

    Justice Department gets more funding, more cases, can claim to be "tough on crime". Winners.

    RIAA/MPAA no longer have to shell out bucks to sue people, they just report them to the Justice Department. Winners.

    Court system, clogged already, gets further clogged with 1000s of P2P cases. Losers.

    US Taxpayer has to pay for procsecuting P2P file shares. Losers.

    P2P file sharers now get criminal records. Think about all the losses that brings in US society. In some states, that includes the right to vote. Big losers.

    I've said it before, and I will say it again: the move of copyright infringment from civil law to criminal law is one of the most nasty and dangerous changes in recent copyright laws.

  • by Quiet Sound (586239) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @01:15AM (#8693745)
    "The bill was introduced by Sens. Orrin Hatch and Patrick Leahy, both of whom received large contributions from the entertainment industries."

    I hear that in some countries corruption is not only illegal but that corrupt politicians go to great lengths to hide their crookedness. Probably just a rumor though.
  • by Artega VH (739847) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @01:43AM (#8693865) Journal
    Mr. President, I rise to join Senator Leahy in sponsoring the Protecting
    Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation Act (the "PIRATE Act"), a
    measure that will provide the Department of Justice with tools to combat the
    rampant copyright piracy facilitated by peer-to-peer filesharing software.

    Mr. President, I'm going to join with Senator Leahy and prove once and for all
    that democrats and republicans are equally as corrupt when enough money is
    waved under our noses. Our "owners" would like to stop people giving away
    works which don't actually belong to them, but yet, they make a considerable
    amount of money from as they signed prohibitively restrictive contracts
    with the actual copyright owners. My "owners" would like to continue to
    make money (and short of being given access to the money printing press)
    want to prevent a tool which can actually harm their monopoly by providing
    an efficient way for independant artists to distribute their works.

    Let me underscore at the outset that our bill does not expand the scope of the
    existing powers of the Department of Justice to prosecute persons who infringe
    copyrights. Instead, our proposal will assist the Department in exercising
    existing enforcement powers through a civil enforcement mechanism. After
    considerable study, we have concluded that this is the most appropriate
    mechanism.

    Some of us want to lock these pirates up and throw away the key, but others
    want to keep them hooked to my "owners" products. So basically we've decided
    we want to destroyt their current lives, and still give them a chance to
    buy our stuff.

    Peer-to-peer file sharing software has created a dilemma for law-enforcement
    agencies. Millions of otherwise law-abiding American citizens are using this
    software to create and redistribute infringing copies of popular music, movies,
    computer games and software.

    We think that millions of law-abiding americans are criminals but don't want
    to come out and say it like that, so we'll back-hand them instead.

    Some who copy these works do not fully understand the illegality, or perhaps the
    serious consequences, of their infringing activities. This group of filesharers
    should not be the focus of federal law-enforcement efforts. Quite frankly, the
    distributors of most filesharing software have failed to adequately educate the
    children and young people who use their software about its legal and illegal
    uses.

    We don't want to harm the stupid ones since they probably don't know how to
    cause serious harm anyway. And since most of my constituents are as thick
    as two planks and I'd like to be re-elected I don't want this either.

    A second group of filesharers consists of those who copy and redistribute
    copyrighted works even though they do know that doing so violates federal law.
    In many cases, these are college students or young people who think that they
    will not get caught. Many of these filesharers are engaging in acts that could
    now subject them to federal criminal prosecution for copyright piracy.

    There do exist a group of people that would probably never vote for me anyway,
    as they think I'm a complete turd, and who happen to be poor because our education
    system is up shit creek without a paddle but still enjoy listening to music and
    watching movies so they do share alot of these copyrighted works. They know its
    wrong but since we continually shaft them most of the time anyway they do it
    as a type of protest. Basically we want them to stop.

    ... But recently, some unscrupulous corporations may have exploited new technologies
    and discovered that the narrow scope of civil contributory liability for
    copyright infringement can be utilized so that ordinary consumers and children

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