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P2P File Sharing Could Cost You A Bundle 1000

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 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.
  • by Mustang Matt ( 133426 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:51PM (#5171197)
    I would go to jail for what I believe in.

    But I do believe that theft is theft.

    Everyone gets pissed off when someone threatens to take away their pirated music and videos.

    If you want to make a backup of your music and videos fine, but don't share them out to other people to freely copy.
  • by starsong ( 624646 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:53PM (#5171211)

    ...use Freenet. [] 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...

  • 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 NineNine ( 235196 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:55PM (#5171236)
    Oh yeah, enforcing drug laws. That's a lot better.
  • by huh12312 ( 605811 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:57PM (#5171250)
    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 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.
  • by bizitch ( 546406 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @09:59PM (#5171262) Homepage
    True -

    And Freenet is very cool in concept. But it's still way to slow to be of any use.

    The day we all have access to cheap (i.e. competitive) high speed (>10mps) bandwith - ala UWB or 802.11 derivitive - this concept will languish

  • Theft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FuzzyBad-Mofo ( 184327 ) <> 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..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:05PM (#5171293)
    But, but...The artist has the original. How is it stealing?


    I was never going to buy it anyway, so how's it stealing?


    I should be able to loan anything out to my friends. What happens after that is none of my business.


    I'll strike at the evil heart of the big anonymous corporations by downloading, uploading every book, music, etc. That'll show them.
  • wtf mods? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goatasaur ( 604450 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:08PM (#5171319) Journal
    Dnaumov - Meta-modding tends to be unkind people who speak out against the "everything should be free" dogma surrounding Slashdot. I disagree with you, but I've seen enough of your posts before to know (hope) you're not trolling.

    Yes, I steal music. If you've read the latest article on the RIAA's trouble regarding price-fixing you'd realize they also steal from me.

    That's all I have to say.
  • 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 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 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 [] has a lot of legitimate P2P content including Linux Distro's. Do note that all of the content above is on the Gnutella2 Network [] using Shareaza [].
  • by handsomepete ( 561396 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:14PM (#5171361) Journal
    Um.... so it's actually that p2p users such as yourself are providing a good samaritan service to the world at large? That's the dumbest thing I've read in a while, and I read slashdot daily.

    If you're too lazy to convert your own CDs to MP3s (arguably a one or two click task for most people), you're probably not going to hassle yourself with the often ardous task of trying to find a non-fake, good quality version of your entire CD with someone that doesn't have a full queue or not on dial-up. Chances are you'll get a hodge-podge of songs ripped at different qualities from different people, but you might get lucky. Or you might like pop music. Whatever. Moreover, I'm pretty sure the copyright law says you have the right to make backup copies for personal use, not for public use... so you theoretically are doing something illegal (breaking copyright law) by having them in a publically available area. By your logic, warez FTP sites aren't breaking the law because they're saving others the hassle of ripping their game CDs to isos. Geez.
  • by Spy Hunter ( 317220 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:14PM (#5171363) Journal
    Last time I checked, there was a distinct lack of anything useful on Freenet. Some proof-of-concept stuff with horrible user interfaces that only work a quarter of the time, and no content. Where's the beef? I won't believe Freenet is anything more than a toy until I see some solid, widespread software using it. And by widespread I mean like WinMX - quite a few people using it. Not a small community of freenet hackers and dabblers.
  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:20PM (#5171392)
    "It is Theft if I steal a compact disk from an individual or merchant, no doubt. But.."

    Aka the physical vs the intangable argument.

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

    Would it change your argument if he was angry at you?

    "Or if I copy a song from a friend?"

    Did you compensate the original author for his time and effort for creating a song you can copy from a friend?

    "Or if I record a song off the radio?"

    Paid for by advertising.

    "Or if I make my own mix recordings?"

    Keep them to yourself, or compensate the authors, and give due credit.

    "Is criminalizing half of the population actually, "Government for the People, by the People"?
    Heil Ashcroft.."

    Is people behaving like they're the only ones in the world, and their actions have no effect a good thing? Heil common sense.

  • Re:I agree. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by llamaluvr ( 575102 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:21PM (#5171399) Journal
    I just tried to do that. I wrote a very long letter to her talking about consumer rights, fair use, etc.

    As I recall the CDPTA (I don't remember the exact name, either) proposes to give consumers the rights to make digital backups for personal use, and perhaps some stuff to prevent rampant copy protection. Sounds like it's a good step towards granting "fair use" to consumers.

    "Fair use" does not include the "right" to share copyrighted MP3s with 60 million people. They gotta draw the line where it's fair for everybody. No intelligent law maker is going to make P2P copyrighted file sharing legal just because a bunch of people want free music and movies.
  • 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 []). 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 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.
  • Re:Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stubear ( 130454 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:27PM (#5171438)
    We have a Democratic Republic. This means that we elect people to hold office that we feel will act in the best interest of the American people. Also keep in mind that Switzerland is .0043 times the size of the US and its population is .0262 that of the US. It's a lot easier to have a smaller population have a more active role in government like this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:29PM (#5171449)
    How does shit like this get moded beyond a 1? It really amazes me the amount of Bush bashing gets moded up on slashdot. How can you compare people who are encouraged to kill Americans, enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay to those who pirate music? I don't understand how those on slashdot can relate something as trivial as swapping music to flying an airplane into a building full of people, and laugh.
  • Re:I agree. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by billburroughs ( 264226 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:37PM (#5171502)
    Oh please. As Carlin once said, this country (the U.S.) was bought and paid for a long time ago. If you think you can really change the laws you are smoking crack. Just let me know when you get any laws changed that are not pro-rich and good for the average top 1% WASPs. I'm not inciting class warfare here, the war was over a long time ago. Laws are only enacted by those with enough money to pay for the lawyers. And just in case you were born yesterday, we do not live in a Democracy as they are so inclined to point out. We have "representatives", who mostly tend to represent themselves and their favorite lobbyists. Yeah, go try that referendum, let me know how it works out for you. Or if that doesn't work, call your rep, and let me know what they say.
  • 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.
  • by Snaller ( 147050 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:44PM (#5171542) Journal
    Except you can still see the IP number of the machine you are connected to.
  • by Snoopy77 ( 229731 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:47PM (#5171561) Homepage

    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 axxackall ( 579006 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:49PM (#5171572) Homepage Journal
    They can do it in USA, but fortunately there are many enough IRC servers and users outside of FBI jurisdiction. I seriously doubt they can shut IRC down internationally.
  • Re:Nice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Planesdragon ( 210349 ) <slashdot@castlesteelst o n e .us> on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:52PM (#5171595) Homepage Journal
    Two bits (IANAL,GWFY).

    Firstly, the definition of "financial gain" only applies to Title 17. There are a whole bunch of notes that seem to exempt "financial gain" from exemptions. (yes, that's a double excemption. See why we need lawyers?)

    Secondly, trading books with your mom isn't a violation of copyright, as you didn't make a copy. (duh.)
  • Re:I agree. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zaffir ( 546764 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @10:53PM (#5171598)
    She said stay in touch, so... write her back, and explain why the CBDTPA (or whatever) ISN'T a good piece of legislation.
  • 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 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 dark-nl ( 568618 ) <> on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:01PM (#5171652)
    Use of marihuana is more popular than that, and it doesn't stop the US government from jailing people for it.

    In fact, this NET act sounds like a nice cost-saving opportunity for police departments, which can always use some more of those fancy high-end computers that MP3-collecting geeks use. Not as good as the cars they get from "drug dealers", but still useful in these troubled times.

  • 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 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 [].

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:09PM (#5171690)
    It doesn't matter how they were captured, if they don't have a trial it's wrong.

    Say the government declared you a terrorist for some reason, when you were really innocent. In a sane system, you would have a trial, be found innocent, and released. Under this system - BAM, you're away for life.

    It does not matter how bad the crime is.... I'll repeat that:

    IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW BAD THE CRIME IS. They might be innocent, and if they are not entitled to a trial, it screws up the entire legal system so badly that it becomes nothing better than a dictatorship.

    (We don't like this guy, but can't pin anything on him.... say he's a terrorist! Then we won't even have to give him a trial.)

    Today it's the Taliban, but tomorrow it could be you. This is how bad laws get in, no-one complains because it seems so reasonable until they get accused.
  • by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:11PM (#5171699)
    If you violate my copyright, then I want you punished

    You seem to be under the impression that Federal Law lacks provisions for punishing copyright infringement. Wouldn't it be better if we used some of those laws instead of twisting draconian electronic "theft" laws to serve the purpose?

    If you, as an artist, really want to preserve control over your works, then you'd better not support anyone who wants to go down this road. Most Americans understand the necessity of copyright, but have very little tolerance for it where it impacts their lives. Nailing "regular people" with excessive punishments for the crime of file-sharing is a great way to push wipe away that last vestige of respect and make Americans really hate copyright holders.

    Enough of that and you can pretty much forget about controlling your work.

  • 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 shepd ( 155729 ) <> 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 FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:14PM (#5171711) Homepage
    That tactic has worked well for drugs.

    People will be prosicuted and do time, but the vast majority will no and will continue to use P2P.
  • by bmetzler ( 12546 ) <bmetzler @ l i v e . com> on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:18PM (#5171735) Homepage Journal
    The DMCA and copy restricted material draws a very fine line but it is still LEGAL to more your media from one form to another. What if you already OWN the media in another form and simply d/l it in a different form like divx or mp3.

    This particular law doesn't have anything to do with you moving your music from one place to another, but giving access to a completely different person. So cool it. Sharing commercial products with others is illegal, and it's vfery easy to assertain guilt.

    You've got a file sharing program running with shared commerial files on it? You are guilty, end of story.

  • Re:Theft (Score:3, Insightful)

    by goon america ( 536413 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:26PM (#5171787) Homepage Journal
    Is criminalizing half of the population actually, "Government for the People, by the People"?

    The vast majority of the population doesn't know what the hell kazaa is. Criminalizing half the population is what the war on drugs is for, dummy.

    Get it right.

  • 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 [] 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 more fool you ( 549433 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:41PM (#5171875) Journal
    let's say there's a great song called "the badge" by pantera. it's only available on the "mission impossible" soundtrack (however the "far beyond driven" album was re-released, the only difference was the addition of "the badge")

    do i:

    • spend $30 on mission impossible soundtrack, despite not caring about the other ~15 songs
    • spend $30 on the re-released version of the far beyond driven album despite already owning a copy of the first release
    • download it and spend that $30 on beer?
  • by ahfoo ( 223186 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:45PM (#5171892) Journal
    Moreover, the US telecoms that are betting their financial futures on the eventual widespread adoption of broadband in the States would be hit hardest. A dozen high profile cases against kids trading files would scare the shit out of the parents and no doubt hundreds of thousands of cable modem/DSL contracts would be cancelled. Meanwhile, this would change nothing in countries outside the US where non commercial sharing of data is not considered infringement.
  • Why use kazaa or napster?

    Oh come on, this is a little silly. Lets not forget that the majority of the people on these networks are not geeks, and their eyes glaze over at the site of IRC, you can watch their heads spin as you explain bots.

    All of these systems that they are trying to shut down are very simple to use. It brings piracy to the masses, not just the uber l33t groups.

    We are fighting over convenience.
  • 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.
  • There is no such Act. That disclaimer was specifically designed as a way for file sharing sites to look like they have some legality to them. The idea that you could prevent certain classes of vaguely-defined people (does a private investigator at home in his spare time have access to the site? apparently not, since he's part of an investigative agency) from visiting a site is ludicrous.
  • 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.

  • Yes, except for three issues:
    A) You couldn't stop people from making those digital copies if they were listening to it. (Even if they have to feed their "line out" back into the "line in" on their sound card")
    B) There is no proof that you aren't listening to it at the same time you are sending it out to the media library.
    C) The government would find that illegal too.
  • nonononono, use... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tomble ( 579119 ) <tomble.usermail@com> on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:14AM (#5172053) Homepage Journal
    GNUnet [], which has a similar general concept to Freenet, but is less flawed (like no icky Java problems, and IMO a much better design amongst other things).

    Bear in mind that it's under heavy development, and doesn't work under Windows yet (I don't know the details of that, as I don't use windows). If you use *nix, you should be able to use it well enough, but remember to keep checking the site for new releases (for a start, new features under discussion are liable to be added to the protocol quite soon).

    And AFAIK, GNUnet unlike Freenet, aren't asking for any donations to help them run (they're part of the GNU project), the main things you can do to help are:
    Insert content into the network (read all the docs properly first!)
    Select Active Migration in the config file
    Insert more content
    Help to code and find bugs

  • by davinc ( 575029 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:23AM (#5172086)

    Actually they will have to jail me. I won't be intimidated out of sharing files. Placing the burden on me to find out of the media I download is legal or not is NOT reasonable.

    If I read a news article is it of concern to me whether it was plagiarized before I read it, open it, or forward it to a friend?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:29AM (#5172117)
    This is interesting. It's their content, so they can really do what they want with it (including loaning it to a company hired to seed peer to peer networks). The interesting part is whether downloading this is legal or not, and whether there's some form of entrapment going on.
  • by tfoss ( 203340 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:34AM (#5172143)
    Please note it was mod'ed +*, Funny. The comparison is not saying copying music = killing Americans, it is saying the Bush administration has a penchant for being extreme...

    In fact, the humor is that such things are obviously not even close to being equivalent, but the Bush handlers wouldn't care.


  • by axxackall ( 579006 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:35AM (#5172148) Homepage Journal
    I can imagine the cyber war of RIAA scripts illegally spamming the traffic in inernational scale, and ISPs around the world hunting those bad guys. Welcome to the future?

    Speakking about DDOS and IRC, either IRC will adapt and stand DDOS easily or new generation (decetralized one) will be based on something else. Perhaps Jabber? Or Gnutella?

  • by willith ( 218835 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:39AM (#5172174) Homepage
    In the P2P situation, there's no demonstration that the copyright holder actually lost the "value" of the copied works.

    I call straw man. The downloader of the copied work received utility from the work--enjoyment, intellectual fulfillment, a sick sense of satisfaction that the copied work sucks, or whatever. It doesn't matter whether or not the downloader would have paid for the work--he now has it, and the only way you're supposed to be able to get the work is to pay for it. Therefore, the owner of the work has lost money.
  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:41AM (#5172189)
    AOL Time-Warner (who own and run Warner Music) advertise Road Runner with their ads that flat out tell people to go on the Internet and download popular music. Sony (parent of Sony Music) makes MP3 players and puts on the package the statement that you should go on the Internet and download music for the device (guess you would have to since Sony Music is one of the big players trying to cripple music on CD's you actually buy from legitimately being transfered to MP3s for fair use).

    Make sense to me that Ashcroft would go after the little guy who does what the music industry tells him to do, rather than the music industry that is known to be stealing money both from consumers by illegal unfail trade practices and from artists. After all, the little guy will not pay off Ashcroft.

  • Re:Theft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:47AM (#5172222) Homepage
    the point is that what if the majority (even 90%) of the population wants to do something morally objectionable.

    If 90% of the population doesn't believe it is morally objectionable, then what makes it morally objectionable? You seem to be implying that the minority 10% should dictate morality to the majority.

  • WAR ON PIRACY (Score:3, Insightful)

    by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <> on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @12:54AM (#5172251) Journal
    Let's see. We've had the War on Terrorism [], the War on Drugs [], the War on Poverty [] a War on Pornography [] and a War on 21,000,000 [] other things.

    Have we won ANY of these wars?

    How about a war on those who would call a war for anything.

    The 'war on piracy' (wait for the MassMedia catchphrase) will be another failure, brought to you by those who would profit by its existence. Just like all the other 'War on []' groups.

    Hey Ashcroft, how about a war on puritanical Fundamentalists who see art as pornography, and symbols of fair Justice as dirty, masturabatory 'distractions' that should be covered up []. Loser.

    The American people want to see some titty [].

  • by havardi ( 122062 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @01:05AM (#5172301)
    Is it just me, or does it seem like the harder it is to catch someone doing a particular crime; the more extreme the punishment can be. Regardless of the seriousness of the offense

    Take for instance harrasment. You harass someone in public; that's a misdemeanor in most cases. Now, if you use a computer to harass someone-- THATS A FELONY?? Read the LAW [], in Arizona at least. Basically, if you use a computer to do pretty much anything; you're a Felon.

    The only reason I can think of is because it is harder to catch people online. But is that a fair reason to increase punishment? Because most investigators don't know how to use computers?
  • 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 [] 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 [] 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 [] the ones [] who [] benefit the most [] 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...
  • by DennyK ( 308810 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @01:21AM (#5172367)
    Stealing is Stealing.

    Yes, stealing is stealing. Walking out of the grocery store with a box of macaroni under your coat is stealing. Hot-wiring someone else's car and driving away is stealing. Downloading an MP3 from Kazaa is NOT stealing. It may be copyright infringement, and it may be illegal, but it is NOT THEFT. Theft requires that there be a material loss to the owner of the stolen item. If you steal a box of macaroni, the store cannot sell that box to a customer, and so they lose money. If you steal a car, the owner cannot use it anymore and must replace it, and so they lose money. If you download Random Artist's newest MP3, there is NO material loss for the artist, record company, or anyone else. There is a *potential* loss, if you download an album or single you would otherwise have purchased, but this is not the same as a material loss. If the record company printed 250,000 CDs, and 250,000 people download the album from Kazaa, the record company still has their 250,000 CDs, which they can still sell, so they have lost nothing material.

    The record companies would have you believe they lose an $18 sale for every MP3 download on the P2P networks, but that is obviously not the case, since not everyone who downloads an MP3 would have had any interest in purchasing the CD it was released on even if they couldn't download it. Some may have wanted to sample the artist's music before they spent a hefty chunk of change on a CD, some may have liked only that track and been uninterested in buying the whole album, some may already own the track legally and find downloading better than ripping. Lack of intent to purchase doesn't make copying copyrighted content legal, but it also does not directly harm the copyright holder.

  • by praksys ( 246544 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @01:22AM (#5172372)
    A fine should relate to the damage done, right?

    Actually no. Fines are usually assessed above and beyond damages. There is a general legal principle that punishment ought to be proportional to the crime - but that does very little to constrain the penalties that congress can attach to crimes. Note for example that it has not hindered three-strikes laws that impose very lengthy sentences on people who commit relatively minor crimes (on top of prior convictions for violent crimes).

    Prosecution by the Justice Department? I thought they were there to serve the public, to keep serial killers of the street and so on. Spend tax payers money for prosecuting folks that share their favourite musician's work with other fans? Get real.

    Just imagine that you get busted and the prosectutor gives you the following choices: (A) plead guilty and agree to give us all your money, up to a max of 250k, (B) don't plead guilty and still give us all of your money, plus go to jail for 3 years, or (C) (ha ha - this one is just for a laugh - see below) spend all of your money on a successful defense.

    Which option would you pick? My guess is most people will go for (A) which means that the prosecution of these cases will almost certainly turn a profit for the feds. That is one of the great things about draconian penalties - sensible people are not willing to run the risks asociated with defending themselves.

    And get it to stand up, when going through the higher courts? I don't think so.

    This may come as a surprise, but similar laws with similar penalties for copyright violations have been around for a long time - haven't you ever watched the warning at the start of a rental video? As Jessica Litman notes in her book "Digital Copyright", novices to copyright law are often surprised to find out that what they are doing is illegal and that it is subject to such harsh penalties. They often decide to fight it out in court, and they always lose.

    In this type of case the burden of proof is very low. They just have to show that you had a copy of something. Then it is up to you to show that you really owned it - if you can. Unless they are careless enough to conduct a bad search there will be nothing to appeal.
  • by JordoCrouse ( 178999 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @01:39AM (#5172430) Homepage Journal
    Placing the burden on me to find out of the media I download is legal or not is NOT reasonable.

    Why not? The burden is placed upon you to make sure that you don't purchase stolen merchandise - or at the very least to inform the authorities when you discover the nature of the goods.

    Why should sharing music be any different? If you grab the latest N'Sync album off of a P2P network, you gotta know that its probably not legal for you to have it (unless of course, you have the whole N`Sync catalog handy).

    Ignorance or moral objection to the law is no excuse.
  • by C0LDFusion ( 541865 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @03:42AM (#5172848) Journal
    And, in theory, you could live off vitamin supplements and water for a long time. However, you still sink your teeth into a steak.

    Yes, man can SURVIVE off the basics. However, a human being cannot LIVE on just bread and water. Music, Art, Creativity...these are the steaks for men to sink their minds into.
  • by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <> on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @03:47AM (#5172863) Homepage Journal
    Ahh, but therein lies the problem. If the media companies are allowing someone to "seed" their media onto the network then how do you ever know you ARENT downloading from someone who has permission to distribute copies?
  • 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.
  • by skillet-thief ( 622320 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:28AM (#5173200) Homepage Journal

    I was going to make the same point, until I saw your post, and realized the difference between liking the GPL and not liking anti-P2P legislation. Technically, you are right: if we don't respect copyrights, then there is no reason to respect the GPL any more than anything else. But I don't think that is exactly the real issue.

    Here is the deal: the GPL is about sharing; it is the opposite of a restrictive copyright law. It empowers individual and not some central entity. It helps spread creativity and not stifle it.

    So obviously we need some kind of copyright to protect intellectual property, to keep creative work from being ripped off. But the copyright system, and its enforcement, can't just be set up to protect the big corporations. See endless comments about business models, etc.

  • Drug Legalization (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Tyro ( 247333 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:42AM (#5173334)
    Where this libertarian argument breaks down is when you consider the healthcare dollars.

    Anyone can go to any ER in the United States and they HAVE to be seen and appropriately treated (all that stuff about uninsured people having no access to medical care is crap)... it's federal law. I can't tell you how many illicit drug-related illnesses I've treated; overdoses, infections, complications, drug-induced abortions, etc, etc... the monetary cost is huge.

    When someone, decades ago, decided to fund healthcare for society out of public funds (we are about half-socialized already), I don't think they had any idea what they were buying into. Funding healthcare for everyone, regardless of their unhealthy habits, is astronomically expensive. Naturally, this leads to the plea from people who either don't want to pay for the stupidity of others, or want to control the behavior of others

    "Look how much money this is costing society!!"

  • by runderwo ( 609077 ) <{runderwo} {at} {}> on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:57AM (#5173359)
    And hidden in that straw man is an assumption too; the assumption that someone who downloads a copyrighted work will never buy it. That is wrong! I never buy any popular media that I haven't previewed first. I also buy everything that I feel is worth the money (e.g., music that I would continue listening to, a movie that I would view again and again).

    Why are downloading and paying regarded as mutually exclusive?

  • by ratamacue ( 593855 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @08:28AM (#5173425)
    The tools required are money, organization, lawyers, and an utter lack of morality.

    You forgot the most important one, the one which makes it all possible in the first place: government. People tend to put the blame on the private organization doing the suing -- but in reality, private organizations are only playing the game which is designed, implemented, and enforced by government.

    Eliminate the powers of government which make it possible to use lawsuits as a competitive weapon, and private organizations won't be able to take advantage of the law. Yes, it's that simple, and yes, government is the ultimate root of the problem.

  • by mpe ( 36238 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @11:06AM (#5174293)
    Here is the deal: the GPL is about sharing ; it is the opposite of a restrictive copyright law. It empowers individual and not some central entity. It helps spread creativity and not stifle it.

    Indeed the GPL probably has more in common with the US Constitution than the more recent US copyright laws.
  • by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @11:07AM (#5174305) Homepage
    [opening a can of worms]

    Do what you do to your own body, fine, but what happens when YOU are carjacked and murdered for the money in your wallet and the parts to your car, just so someone can get their fix?

    If drugs were legal and regulated (i.e. cheap) there'd be no reason to be carjacked to pay for your fix. How may times do you hear of alcoholics carjacking in order to pay for their Thunderbird? Its precisely the prohibition on drugs that inflates prices that (would) cause your average junkie to carjack you. Of course, carjackings (while they happen) are no where near the level that paranoid prohibitionists want you to believe they are. Most "drug related" crimes are between "dealers" (turf war). Legalize drugs and you pretty much kill this problem too. Al Capone killed a lot of folks during prohibition over control of alcohol. Last time I checked Anhiser-Busch weren't gunning down Coors executives in order to get shelf space at my local 7-11.

    [closing can of worms]

The moon may be smaller than Earth, but it's further away.