Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
The Courts Government United States News Your Rights Online

Texas Rep Wants To Jail File Traders 739

kUnGf00m45t3r writes "There is an article on Wired about how Texas Rep. John Carter wants to jail some college students to scare people away from illegal file sharing. He says, "What these kids don't realize is that every time they pull up music and movies and make a copy, they are committing a felony under the United States code," Carter said in an interview. "If you were to prosecute someone and give them three years, I think this would act as a deterrent." Right..."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Texas Rep Wants To Jail File Traders

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 20, 2003 @07:42AM (#5553927)
    Am I the only one who finds this to be condescending? "These kids" is no better than "you people" - I'm sure most Americans will remember the "you people" scandal from the mid-90s.
    • I was thinking the same thing as I read this. If a politician is to be thought worthy of being listened to, the least he could do is speak civilly and not down about the ones he's complaining about.

      Who wants to bet he has KaZaA at home right now while he's at work downloading the new Kenny G album? Hah.
    • Great Idea! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Locking up a few of "these kids" worked so well with our War on Drugs!
      If he succeeds, pretty soon there won't be any file trading, just like now there are no more illegal drugs in this country!
  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @07:44AM (#5553938) Journal
    Does this bill also contain credit for all the CD's I've legally purchased? I mean, say I have 100 legally purchased songs on CD, and I've pirated 99 songs on mp3, this still represents a net sale of 1 song by the record industry.

    Using RIAA screwy logic, does this mean that I haven't actually cost them anything?
    • No, by their logic (and, let's face it - most people's logic) it means they're potentially lost 99 sales (or sales of however many CDs that 99 songs equates to). Their logic's not actually all that unsound, but maybe the premises with which they start are - therein lies the problem.


      • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jhunsake ( 81920 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @08:08AM (#5554076) Journal
        The key point, as I'm sure you were making by italicizing it, is potentially. In my case, they haven't lost any sales, because I will never pay for music again. Not under any circumstances whatsoever. But I will (and do) download music and occasionally rip friends' CDs. And should this imply, as some claim, that there is no incentive then for artists to make new music, that is fine with me. I would be happy listening to what I already have for the rest of my life. I guess this means I believe no one should be a musician by profession.
        • Amem, brother

          The key point is, why the hell would I pay for new music since it is all a bunch of crap? I'd rather
          stick to my beloved old zeppelin, purple, iron maiden, hendrix, joplin, who, etc, etc, etc ripped
          albuns than to pay RIAA for this new shit.

          And, of course, if I happen to like some song I hear, there is always the new underground italian napster
          to get it. I also will never buy a fscking CD again. If I want to support some artist, i'll attend to a
          concert or something, but it's rare in this place
        • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by PerryMason ( 535019 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @09:14AM (#5554461)
          For me, if they can guarantee me that the CD I buy wont scratch, crack or split for my lifetime, then I would be happy to pay the money.

          As it is, I do buy a few CDs, but only if I consider the package as a whole is worth owning. If record companies want people to buy CDs they should try making the product 'value-added' enough that its better than just having the MP3. Good artwork, lyric sheets, stylised packaging. Do anything to make it worth the money, but don't expect people to pay for a CD when its as easy as ripping it, or P2Ping it.

          Thats my opinion anyway.
    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ch-chuck ( 9622 )
      Huh? Talk about screwy logic - where does it say "for every song purchase you get to steal one" ?! If you purchased 100 cd's great. If you've pirated 99 mp3's, you've committed 99 felonies, no matter how many you bought legally. No, obeying the law doesn't make you eligible to commit crimes ;)

      • Re:Hmmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by 91degrees ( 207121 )
        Well, why the hell not? Normally if I give someone in a shop some money, and take away an item worth less than the amount that I gave them, it would not be considered stealing.

        Why is it a crime in the first place when the record company has made money from it? Who has been injured?

        If I was put in jail instead, they wouldn't have had that one single sale. Therefore, the punishment is punishing the victim as well.
        • And if you buy 100 items from a shop and then steal 99, is that okay?


          • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @08:19AM (#5554122) Journal
            We're not talking about stealing here. We're talking about copyright infringement. i.e. violation opf their exclusive right to reproduce.
            • Okay, sorry, I'd better rephase that.

              If you abide by a law 100 times does it make it right to break it 99 times?

              Yes, it really is that black and white. I'm not talking about whether or not the law is just, but whether prior compliance with a law makes it alright to disregard the law later.


    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by macdaddy357 ( 582412 ) <macdaddy357@hotmail.com> on Thursday March 20, 2003 @09:55AM (#5554792)
      "Forget the muderers and rapists, they are no threat to society. We need to lock up file traders!" Who is this asshat? Boycott the recording industry. [dontbuycds.org]
      • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Reziac ( 43301 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @01:36PM (#5556745) Homepage Journal
        Imagine the result in a "three strikes" state like California. It's conceivable, and was recently upheld by the Supreme Court, that someone could get LIFE IN PRISON for having a record of 3 felonies, each of which was for file trading.

        That's absurd.

        It's also absurd that someone is willing to ruin some bright and basically good kid's life (a felony on your record severely limits your options) just to make an example and a point.

        Here's a legal proposal for you: it should be unlawful to use criminal law to make examples of anyone. If you prosecute one offender, you should have to prosecute them all. (College campuses everywhere are suddenly vacant; millions of voices are suddenly silenced.)

  • The 'felony' he speaks of comes from a law that is of a special kind: the kind of laws that we need to have, but are also meant never to be enforced.
  • Yeah, right.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    Jail file traders but elect presidents (well almost) who declare war on other countries for no good reason.

    The world is going to hell in a handbasket.

    • Re:Yeah, right.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomknight ( 190939 )
      After all, the Pres has said that he'd spring from jail (in EU) any US citizen convicted of a crime by the International Court. Now who's respecting the international community? God, this man's hypocrisy makes me want to vomit. Yeah, this is offtopic but what the hell does any of this shit matter anyway?


      • Tom,
        The International Court doesn't recognize the rights afforded to us all by God and protected by the US Constitution. According to the UN, any "right" that interferes with the UN's charter is invalid. What's entirely legal in one country (free speech, for instance) could be considered a criminal act by the UN, and a citizen may be tried by foreign nationals.

        See the difference? In America, God gives us rights as human beings. In the UN, the UN "gives" you rights so long as it's not contrary to the UN's "
    • by hkmwbz ( 531650 )
      What is really worrying is that convicted criminals are in Bush's administration. After being convicted of lying to Congress about Nicaragua/Contras, they are back in power. Poindexter, Negroponte, Abrams, Reich, Elliott... Why are convicted criminals who lied to their own country - betrayed their country - back in powerful positions?
  • logic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by matt4077 ( 581118 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @07:47AM (#5553952) Homepage
    If you drive drunk and kill someone, you get 2 years, if you share 500 mp3s you get 3. Sounds fair to me.
  • Deterrent... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by constantnormal ( 512494 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @07:48AM (#5553963)
    ... and maybe jailing a few congressmen for taking campaign contributions as bribes would provide some deterrence there as well...
  • by Rhubarb Crumble ( 581156 ) <r_crumble@hotmail.com> on Thursday March 20, 2003 @07:50AM (#5553971) Homepage
    ...think the punishment clearly doesn't fit the crime (and yes it is a crime), but I'm prepared to bet that it would act as a pretty good deterrent.
  • by rampant mac ( 561036 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @07:51AM (#5553975)
    Inmate 1: "Whatcha in for?"

    Inmate 2: "6 to 10. Downloaded 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.'"

    Inmate 1: "Can you hand me that soap?"

  • by Fred IV ( 587429 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @07:51AM (#5553976)
    Great 3 years in prison is plenty of time for them to learn how to be a real criminal. And since the felony will create problems getting a job when they get out, they will have the inclination to do illegal things for money so they can eat and pay rent.

    There just isn't enough violent crime in the US anymore. Let's all thank the Texan for finding a way to correct that problem.
    • Well, he might be right that it's a deterrant, but it's a fucking stupid idea. You mate, you have hit the nail right on the head. Prison and a felony tag indelibly stamped on you is not the way to go around improving the situation. Does "community service" exist in the States? In the UK it's used for lower end crimes where a fine or prison may not be appropriate.


  • Stupid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 20, 2003 @07:51AM (#5553980)
    His priorities are all fucked up.

    His priority is corporate payrolls, not the people.

    Revolition time, overthrow the gov. that the people Remember, the gov is SUPPOST to represent the PEOPLE, lately they just represent the CORPORATION.

    Overthrow it.
  • by Motherfucking Shit ( 636021 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @07:52AM (#5553984) Journal
    Says carter (according to the article),
    Carter said making an example of a few college students could go a long way toward bringing home the message that sharing and duplicating copyrighted materials is wrong.

    "Sometimes it takes the shock value of someone actually being punished," Carter said. "In this particular instance it might also send a message to these kids that are operating on these networks that, 'Hey, I better stop.'"

    Students would learn quickly that copying even one album is not worth the potential punishment, he said.
    So he wants to punish "a few" students in the hopes of deterring the rest of them? Sorry, it's not going to work. As the article mentions, there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of college students engaging in file sharing. Putting "a few" of them in prison isn't going to deter the remainder; instead, those who aren't among the unfortunate "few" will think what everyone else is thinking: "they might bust a few people, but they won't bust me."

    Filesharing is, in my opinion, much like speeding. A whole hell of a lot of people do it, and only a small percentage ever get caught or have to face the music, so to speak. When more than half of drivers are doing 70 in a 55, and only 1 in 5,000 are pulled over and given a ticket, there is no deterrent! Similarly, if you've got hundreds of thousands of students sharing files illegally, and you only punish "a few" of them, that's not going to discourage the rest of them.

    The idea that "they won't bust me" is always going to be prevalent. Either we put them all in jail for committing these horrible felonies, or we don't bother busting any of them.
    • er screw that. If they started jailing people, I would stop downloading songs.

      As for your speeding example, if they gave a 3 year jail sentance for speeding, then you'd cut it down drastically I guarantee.
    • by kenthorvath ( 225950 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @09:17AM (#5554482)
      I think this would act as a deterrent.

      Yes, it would definately deter hundreds of thousands of filesharers from his reelection... Let's face it, if the American people made enough stink about changing the copyright laws to allow casual filesharing, it would happen. There are enough people who do this and vote that it would make a significant difference. All we need is ONE candidate up for election who makes this his issue and the rest will scurry into place, either immediately agreeing, or seeing the light after they lose.

  • File traders (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @07:55AM (#5553997) Homepage Journal
    The real threat right now is spammers, not file traders. Is something that affects and in some way or another harm or could harm us all. Why not put them all in jails? or in pits, or use them as human shields on iraq, etc.
    • Re:File traders (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CharlieO ( 572028 )
      The real threat right now is spammers, not file traders

      Define the threat you are talking about. Thats the problem, no-one ever does.

      If you regard excesive traffic that threatens the stability of the local network as a threat then I can tell you from first hand experience that the bandwidth consummed by spam is vastly less than that consummed by P2P technologies in most ISPs

      Is something that affects and in some way or another harm or could harm us all

      The one sure way of harming a network is floo
  • by smylie ( 127178 ) <spam_me@nOSpAM.smylie.co.nz> on Thursday March 20, 2003 @07:55AM (#5553999) Homepage
    From the article:
    "What these kids don't realize is that every time they pull up music and movies and make a copy, they are committing a felony under the United States code," Carter said in an interview. "If you were to prosecute someone and give them three years, I think this would act as a deterrent."

    I know the american judicial and political system can be pretty screwed up at time, but just how much support does this guy think he's going to get from his constituents (read votes), when he starts sending kids to jail for three years in punishment for what amounts to fiften dollars worth of copyright violation?

    To compare, how long do you expect Jeffrey Skilling (former Enron CEO) to spend in jail for the $30 billion lost there . . .
    • by z_gringo ( 452163 ) <<z_gringo> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Thursday March 20, 2003 @09:14AM (#5554467)
      I read that also, where he mentioned that they were "committing a felony under the United States code" every time they downloaded a song.

      Can that be correct? It may be illegal, but is it really a felony? That seems a bit harsh, but then again, there are a lot of things that are felonies in Texas that aren't felonies elswhere.

      Of course Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon (Handgun, whatever), is only a mesdemeanor.

  • by epicstruggle ( 311178 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @07:56AM (#5554007)
    I would have no problem with this proposed law, if they offered something similar to music execs guilty of price fixing. [cnn.com] So congress should make sure that both sides of this issue are playing fairly.


  • First Stone (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RMH101 ( 636144 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @07:57AM (#5554013)
    Can we ask for an inspection of his house and the glove box of his car? Want to bet there'll be a few cassette tapes he's recorded at some point in his life?

    Ric Campaign for the national sig: "*Just kidding, Admiral Poindexter!"

  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @07:58AM (#5554021) Journal
    ... and unlicensed software. Let's see if his children or spouse should be jailed. (Hey, 3 or more counts -- maybe for life!).

    Something about glass houses.

  • This guy has the right idea. In order to stop law breaking, we must throw people in jail.

    People often park in my street, which is a no-parking zone. What kind of society is it that lets people get away with so blatantly breaking the law? Throw some of them in jail for a few years, that would put the others off. And kids that drink under age. They need a good whipping. And don't get me started on people who "borrow" stationary from their employers...
  • Why don't we just secretly pick one area of each city to thoroughly police each day, and execute everyone who commits any crimes in that area? That'll really make people think twice before littering and speeding, won't it? Certainly this would lead to the perfect Utopia! Sheesh!
  • by goldcd ( 587052 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @08:01AM (#5554034) Homepage
    students, the intellectual future and security of a nation, all turning up on his doorstep turning themselves in for 3 years jailtime. A great way to point out the stupidity of his words, and secure free accomodation until the end of your education.
  • by MjDascombe ( 549226 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @08:01AM (#5554039) Journal
    Can also be found here [congressmerge.com] - why not drop him a line? :p
  • Not the law (Score:5, Informative)

    by werdna ( 39029 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @08:03AM (#5554049) Journal
    This demagogue ought to actually read the copyright Act [usdoj.gov] before he starts making false accusations of criminal conduct against his fellow citizens. (He also better make sure his kids are clean.)

    1) Even where infringement is present, it isn't necessarily criminal:

    It isn't criminal unless willful, and it isn't willful merely because it was copied. Evidence of infringement doesn't suffice under the Copyright Act.

    2) Even where willful infringement is present, it isn't necessarily criminal:

    If not for commercial purposes or by taking a retail value exceeding $1,000 in a six-month period.

    3) Even where willful infringement is criminal, it isn't necessarily a felony:

    If not for commercial purposes, it is merely a midemeanor, in the sense that the maximum criminal sentence is limited to not more than a year. (Not sure if that is the relevant standard -- I'm not a criminal lawyer).
    • So what this says is as longs as you don't resell what you download, or distribute more than $1000 worth of stuff in a 6-month period, then it's totally legal!

      Am I interpreting this right?
  • by liquidsin ( 398151 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @08:03AM (#5554051) Homepage
    College students are easily swayed by this sort of thing, and imprisoning a few for longer than most rapists get will surely straighten them out. I mean, once they showed that they put you in jail for smoking marijuana, pretty much every college student in the U.S. stopped smoking pot. This will be just like that, right?

    • Too bad they don't put you in jail for smoking marijuana. They may put you in jail for dealing marijuana or possessing large amounts of it (thereby assuming you intended to distribute). But rarely does a college kid caught with an eigth do any jail time. Therefore your analogy should be refined to those pirating huge amounts of music and distributing it to others.
      • I was on the jury for a kid that got caught with four grams (he had just smoked the fifth) and the procescutor wanted jail time. Some counties in the US are a lot harder on drug use than others.
  • by dbcowboy ( 162210 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @08:10AM (#5554085)
    Wait lets not forget those middle schoolers. I know they download music too. But how to jail kids under 16. Disney Jails of course. With a special school in jail teaching all about the evils of downloaded music. I call it Disney Jail. Smaller cells for smaller minds. Jailers/teachers dressed in big eared mouse costumes. Special areas for kindergarden and preschool. Punish them while they're young. Better yet pre-crime... jail them before they do... cause you know they will.
  • Backwards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jesser ( 77961 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @08:21AM (#5554135) Homepage Journal
    The right way to do it is to first make p2p music sharing unnecessary by providing a convenient way to download music legally, then enforce the laws that make it illegal.
  • Electric chair maybe ? oh come on, let's get real Mr Carter!!! next thing you will say is that it is illegal to sing a song in public, because it violates the (C)!!!

    The fact is that this multimillion dollar corporations have an almost 100% profit after the production cost and the artist's fee is covered. It's like software.

    The only people that should be punished are those that make a profit out of it, not some college kids who have fun by listening to music. If they did not share MP3s, they would not boug
  • by unitron ( 5733 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @08:27AM (#5554163) Homepage Journal
    But if we jail people with files, won't they just cut through the bars and escape?
  • by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @08:28AM (#5554168)
    Let's first jail some politicians for several years that have violated campaign financing laws or misused political funds for political purposes. Yes, this includes politicians that only violate them on "technicalities" or can't fully account for where the money went. Why don't we start by auditing Carter himself?

    In the grand scheme of things, cleaning out corrupt politicians is a whole lot more important than cracking down in file trading by people with no money. I'm sure jailing people like Carter for a few years would have a wonderfully deterrent effect on other politicians. What about it?

  • I think this would act as a deterrent." Right...

    Anyone who is suggesting that the threat of being jailed for file-sharing would not be a significant deterrent is so blinded by chauvinism as to have no credibility.
  • A rash of incarcerations will deter many people from distributing copyright-enforced works. I would hope that the remainder of the "intelligent" filesharers will begin to seriously look at alternative software that's not inhibited by messy licensing and what not. For the OSS world, this could be a blessing in disguise. Drive me right into "our" arms, eh?

    I don't think a single musician or filmmaker would feel comfortable if someone did hard-time downloading an MP3, especially if it were a college-aged ki
  • by Jezza ( 39441 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @08:32AM (#5554207)
    This Texas Rep seems to have forgotten WHO elected him, the parents of "these kids" and sending someone to jail for three years for swapping files (albeit copyrighted works) seems rather harsh, they'd probably have been better off to actually steal the CDs! (In terms of their sentence)

    I don't think that a justice system should be used to "scare" someone - especially when a great number of people don't think that much of a crime has been committed. Basically people have taped each others' CDs and records for years, and music still gets made, Puffy Daddy still buys his plane, the sky doesn't fall in. The problem is we don't see "these kids" as criminals - okay they are, but not the kind of criminals who need to be jailed. We do see a lot of musicians as criminals though, they make vast fortunes from music that is likely to inflame racial tensions and advocate criminal acts - this Texas Rep should choose his friends more wisely if he hopes to be re-elected.

    It also seems pretty hypocritical to add a levy on blank CD media and STILL go after individuals who are buying them. It seems that the music industry wants to be paid twice - once for original CDs and once for blank media.
    • According to his web site, http://www.house.gov/carter/ , he has offices in Round Rock and College Station. Anyone know when he's up for election? I think a few posters on Campus with some quotes about his "idea" will get him swiftly kicked out... provided the college populous goes and votes.

      Hell, anyone want to recall him? I'm sure there are a few TU students in Round Rock who'd be happy to help...
  • Waste of time ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hpavc ( 129350 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @08:58AM (#5554345)
    So they want to jail people for file trading/stealing a few hundred bucks worth of crap, but the corrupt CEO's of Enron (file trading/stealing peoples life's savings) and otherwise will likely do less time than the kiddies they make examples of.

    Nice to see our perspective of domestic and international law are on par with each other in the insane asylum.

    Didnt Texas just notice that their tried to give someone a needle in a case where the accused was found guilty with evidence from police paid witnesses and evidence was withheld? Yahoo Story [yahoo.com]

    Like they need to find more ways of fucking people with their backwards justice. Perhaps they could figure out how to administer what they have first.
  • by Slashdolt ( 166321 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @09:07AM (#5554412)
    It would deter me from ever voting for him again!
  • My Rant (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jfollas ( 634818 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @09:22AM (#5554517)
    It really bothers me that the RIAA et al compares digital media piracy to be the very same as walking into a store and shoplifting a CD. Conceptually--alright, I see their point that theft is theft. But, let's compare apples to apples here.

    Swapping a song is more akin to going to your library and copying an article out of an encyclopedia. I mean, the library paid for that encyclopedia, but Britannica certainly isn't getting any type of royalty or extra revenue for your actions. And, this behavior is actually accepted (otherwise, why did my college library have eight copy machines on each floor?).

    The fact is, and this has been stated over and over again, that the recording industry is using a business model that is quickly becoming antiquated because it has not adapted to changes in digital media capabilities (i.e., instant gratification: easier and cheaper to download a single track from the Internet than to drive to the music store).

    Furthermore, what is the motivation or desireable quality of owning a physical CD at the cost of $15? For the eight garbage tracks that you get in addition to the 1 or 2 good songs? For the really cool cover artwork? For the satisfaction that your $15 contributed to the squandering lifestyle of the artist, or even worse, the recording label?

    Perhaps my views are seeded in jealousy. There, I said it. Because I have no marketable talent, I'm forced to work 40+ hours a week and live entirely on that paycheck. Recording stars might put in long hours at the studio (boo hoo--we all put in long hours to meet our deadlines probably more frequently than they record an album), but in my eyes, they aren't truly working unless they're touring. And, just because they can sing or otherwise attract public appeal, they have the opportunity to afford all kinds of luxuries PLUS have big companies give them all kinds of products for free in hopes of some sort of endorsement. I wonder what that would be like....

    Call it theft or whatever, but I think that the everyday 40+ hour a week employee has voiced its opposition to the practices of the recording industry that takes money away from the working class to support the lifestyle of the artists.
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @09:23AM (#5554523) Homepage
    Ok, Got your attention on that one :-)

    Now exactly is this moron Rep from texas expecting this to work? the tactics they use against obviousally and morally sick crime called child porn doesn't do a damned thing. And now this blathering Idiot from texas wants to focus on something that is a percieved problem and waste resources on that instead of the real problems?

    This man just gave his competition some really good ammunition for the next campain..

    Rep. John Carter doesn't care about your children, in fact he wants them in Jail. Rep. John Carter cares more about big business than children, as he would rather waste resources on chasing college students and kids than stopping child porongraphy or other truely illegal activities.

    Rep. John Carter, who is he working for?
  • Finally! (Score:3, Funny)

    by InadequateCamel ( 515839 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @09:23AM (#5554527)
    I can't wait for this to become reality! Soon they'll jail everyone who pirates music, and lump them in with all those software traders too. Good thing we taught poor students a lesson about trying to get free versions of $500 pieces of software. Those cassette recording punks are rotting in there somewhere too! Good thing that evil Satanic practice was stopped before everyone starting doing it!

    Even if they start randomly jailing 0.1% of all offenders you have to make room for tens of thousands of "criminals" in your already overcrowded jails, and the net result is that 99.9% of people will get away with it, scot-free.

    I think they SHOULD enforce it, and make the record companies pay for the prosecution and the new jails that will be needed to house millions of young adults. Sure, schools will be pretty empty for a while and they might cause long-term economic damage, but at least kids will no longer be sharing files and can get back to smoking weed and drinking & driving!

    Go Texas! Can't trade files but you can pistol-whip that black piece of shit who offered to wash the windows of your truck.

  • by panurge ( 573432 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @09:35AM (#5554626)
    Which country used to throw kids in jail for years for "hooliganism"? Yes, the former Soviet Union.

    However, I don't think this goes far enough. I have a more Texan solution for the rep. to adopt.
    Kill them all.

    Yes, it's well known that most crimes are committed by young men aged 16-30. Kill the lot of them. It'll stop most of the hacking, most of the file sharing, get rid of most of the drug addicts. It will get rid of most of the cheap foreign labor so senior US programmers will have jobs again. It will reduce US carbon dioxide output significantly so Bush can take credit for reducing global warming. It will reduce underage pregnancies. It will remove most of the opposition to the religious Right. It will greatly reduce drunk driving.

    OK, the downside is that CD sales will fall catastrophically. But in these difficult times, we must all make sacrifices. Even the RIAA. And we could have a stonking great memorial in DC, to all the young men who gave their lives in the war against (file-sharing) terror.

    Next off: Why they should bring in the death penalty for double parking.

    Stupid? Not as stupid as "let's give a few people a major criminal record for a minor offence to discourage the others." Texas and Saudi: the similarities run deep.

  • Apropriate Response? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @09:51AM (#5554751) Homepage
    While I agree that the congressman's comments seem to reflect poor judgement in terms of how to phase in punishment, is it not appropriate to begin enforcing the law against those who break it? When ideas like the DMCA or SSSCA (CBDTPA) are proposed I am offended because they punish me for things that I do not do. Isn't enforcing the existing law exactly the right approach?

    As a counter-proposal how about this:

    Step 1:
    For six months, send letters to violators stating that the executive branch will begin enforcing the law.

    Step 2:
    For six months, enforce the law lightly. Give a few kids a week a summons and (if found guilty of willful infringement) probation.

    Step 3:
    Gradually increase the punishment to the natural level for the law in question. Start adding public service and small fines, and gradually ramp up.

    This is much the way that traffic law enforcement devices with cameras are phased in, and as a person living in a city with red-light enforcement traffic cameras, I have seen it work.
  • by rpgguy76 ( 660461 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @10:05AM (#5554870)
    Even though this article from the Baen Free Library is about books it applies equally well to file sharing. Check out the entire article at Baen Free Library [baen.com]
    "And, just as important -- perhaps most important of all -- free books are the way an audience is built in the first place. How many people who are low on cash and for that reason depend on libraries or personal loans later rise on the economic ladder and then buy books by the very authors they came to love when they were borrowing books?

    Practically every reader, that's who. Most readers of science fiction and fantasy develop that interest as teenagers, mainly from libraries. That was certainly true of me. As a teenager, I couldn't afford to buy the dozen or so Robert Heinlein novels I read in libraries. Nor could I afford the six-volume Lensmen series by "Doc" Smith. Nor could I afford any of the authors I became familiar with in those days: Arthur Clarke, James H. Schmitz, you name it.

    Did they "lose sales?" In the long run, not hardly. Because in the decades which followed, I bought all of their books -- and usually, in fact, bought them over and over again to replace old copies which had gotten too worn and frayed. I just bought another copy of Robert Heinlein's The Puppet Masters, in fact, because the one I had was getting too long in the tooth. I think that's the third copy of that novel I've purchased, over the course of my life. I'm not sure. Might be the fourth. I first read that book when I was fourteen years old -- forty years ago, now -- checked out from my high school library."

    Author Eric Flint
  • by Rai ( 524476 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @12:55PM (#5556408) Homepage
    the verb "jail" means "temporarily detain until we execute them" or "hold them dang sonsabitches til we's can kills 'em. Yee haw!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 20, 2003 @01:03PM (#5556473)
    Below is a transcript of a letter I sent to 32nd District (Dallas) representative Pete Sessions in response to this article. I encourage you to take this (in whole or in part), edit for your specific congressman, and send it along as well:


    Congressman Sessions:

    As a voter in your district, I'm writing in response to an article (http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,58081,0 0.html) in which your fellow Texas Representative from the 34th District, John Carter, explictly expresses support for prosecuting as felons people who participate in illegal file sharing online. While I recognize that such action is in violation of copyright law, I also recognize that representative Carter's statements are a direct reflection of the common agenda of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and of the sizable campaign contributions that these organizations are using to influence legislation in thier direction.

    Let me be clear that this letter is not in advocacy of illegal file sharing, but rather in response to the misguided stance of felony prosecution that your fellow representative has publicly taken. This is a problem that is endemic of the internet age, and is a result of there being an inadequate system of permanent distribution of these media from their respective industries (e.g. CDs & DVDs that scratch/crack/break, and audio and VHS tapes that degrade with time) and the availability of technological measures to ensure the indefinite lifespan of the media with digital archiving on computers.

    Thus, it is apparent that, rather than fight the swell of illegal file sharing with threats of felony prosecution, thereby placing the onus of responsibility on the end user, the onus is instead squarely upon the RIAA and MPAA to discover a means to utilize the advancement of technology to discover a better means of distribution for their media.

    This issue has arisen purely from the sphere of economics. Simply, why would I pay $18 for a CD/$30 for a DVD whose lifespan I cannot guarantee and whose replacement I will have sole financial responsibility for in the event of loss when an alternative, regardless of its legality, exists and is readily available (e.g. internet file sharing). However, if these industries were to offer their product in electronic format for a reduced cost (effected by saving themselves the cost of physical media and its physical distribution), or in some other way ensure that I have indefinite access to the media I purchased, then the argument for legitimate purchase would be much more compelling, and I'd be much less likely to engage in illegal file sharing in lieu of commercial obtainment.

    These industries try to stand on both sides of the intellectual property argument, which hurls the legitimacy of their entire stance into a dubious light. On the one hand, by claiming violation of copyright law by unlicensed distribution of the content electronically, they clearly state that the value of the CD or DVD is in its artistic content and not in the physical media. On the other hand, by denying the availability of indefinite access to the content in case of a damaged CD or DVD, they state clearly that the user is purchasing not the content with their dollars but rather the physical medium itself.

    Obviously, these ideas are contradictory, and quite obviously, the internet file sharing phenomenon of RIAA and MPAA content is a clear REACTION to the failure of these industries to act responsibly and consistently in their obligation to participate in fair commerce with the public sector.

    And so, returning to the genesis of this letter, I ask, as a voter, that you take all measures to oppose any movement within the legislature that would seek to prosecute as criminals users who participate in illegal file sharing, and instead support legislature which would direct the RIAA and MPAA towards all efforts at finding an appropriate mechanism for media content distribution that would insure indefinite access for the consumers who purchase their products.

    Thank you for your time. Regards,

  • by ziriyab ( 549710 ) on Thursday March 20, 2003 @04:08PM (#5558646)
    It's scary that this guy is so opinionated on this matter yet he doesn't even have an email address listed on his web site [house.gov]. He also seems to be on the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, which makes him a powerful moron - a dangerous combination.

    Anyway, those in the Austin, Round Rock area, call him: 512-246-1600 and politely express your opinion.

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@NoSPaM.nerdflat.com> on Thursday March 20, 2003 @05:51PM (#5559987) Journal
    ... is that prosecuting every single one of them, or even more than just a handful of them, would end up costing more money than what the record companies are "losing" to piracy. Even if we had ten times the number of prisons we do now, there still wouldn't be enough space to hold even half of the infringers. Ultimately, in a digital age, you can't even make a dent in illegal copying without trying to stop *all* copying, legal or otherwise. It is, btw, impossible to refute the existence of legal copying -- for example, a company doing regular backups of its own data. And since media is, ultimately, just data -- it's only the end user (and arguably the application that the media format is intended for) that sees such media for what it is. Until computers can think like people, they will not be able to differentiate between copyrighted data and uncopyrighted data, so any legislation in this matter at this point is meaningless without halting progression of the arts until computer technology can "safely" accomodate it.
  • by ces ( 119879 ) <christopher.stefan#gmail.com> on Thursday March 20, 2003 @10:07PM (#5562048) Homepage Journal
    People who trade files, rip MP3s, or make "mix" tapes are terrorists out to destroy the American way of life pure and simple. These crimes should be enough to classify one as a terrorist under the USA PATRIOT act. Hell the police should just shoot you if they suspect you of file trading.
  • by Fritz Benwalla ( 539483 ) <randomregs@@@gmail...com> on Thursday March 20, 2003 @11:01PM (#5562330)

    We can use this in a bunch of situations. For example:

    We know that not all people who sit in Congress are stealing from their constituents and taking money in exchange for political influence, but we're very sure that many are.

    So lets take, say, one Congressman and make a real example of him by putting him in jail. That should be a real wake-up call to the rest of them.

    Any nominees?


The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings