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House Bill to Make File-Sharing an Automatic Felony 1753

JAgostoni writes "Wired news has an article about a new bill that would make it a felony to upload a file to a P2P network." EFF has a copy of the bill online. Conyers and Berman both get over a quarter of their campaign funding from Hollywood, according to opensecrets.org. You may remember Berman from this bill and this one.
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House Bill to Make File-Sharing an Automatic Felony

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  • Sharing.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by mindshadow ( 240798 ) * on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:25AM (#6460599) Homepage Journal
    Guess we should stop teaching our kids that sharing is good....
    • Re:Sharing.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:40AM (#6460788) Homepage Journal
      Sharing usually involves taking something that belongs to you, and depriving yourself of it to allow others to use it as well, thus improving things for everyone.

      Copyright infringement, whatever the rights and wrongs are, is not "sharing". You're taking content produced by others and offering it to others with no sacrifice on your part, but with a potential sacrifice to the people who made the content - that of being unable to earn revenue from people who use that product.

      Which, before I get flamed, I'm not arguing that this is never to the artist's benefit in the long run, nor that everyone who downloads music both lacks a copy already and will never pay the artist a cent. But calling it sharing is about as silly as calling it stealing. It isn't either.

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

        by x_man ( 63452 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:46AM (#6460885)
        v. shared, sharing, shares v. tr.

        1. To divide and parcel out in shares; apportion.

        2. To participate in, use, enjoy, or experience jointly or in turns.

        3. To relate (a secret or experience, for example) to another or others.

        4. To accord a share in (something) to another or others: shared her chocolate bar with a friend.

        Somebody needs to buy a dictionary.

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

          by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @12:36PM (#6462301) Journal

          And the spud-raisin debates continue. Forget the dictionary, OK? What about Miss Manners?

          If the musicians were in the room, could you upload it and comfortably let them know what you are doing?

          For jam-bands like Phish and a few fringe artists you probably could (at least for some of their songs). That's sharing. For everybody else it's not sharing. The dictionary may not say it, but sharing implies a mutual agreement between all parties involved. Sharing as we know it is a polite activity between friends. Uploading an artist's music against their will, and in the anonymity of your computer room is nothing like the sharing we were taught in kindergarden.

          Phish shares their concerts. Fans appropriate Metallica.


          1. to take for one's own or exclusive use.

          2. to take improperly, as without permission

          3. to set aside for a specific use or a certain person.

          File sharing is not being made a felony. Phish can share all the music they want. File appropriation is the felony.

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

        by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @11:09AM (#6461197) Homepage Journal

        Copyright infringement ... You're taking content

        Bzzt, wrong! In copyright infringement, nothing is actually taken. The original owner of the bits still owns them. Next contestant, please!

        For someone all hung up on definitions and using terms properly, you could at least get this part a little more accurate.

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

        by jafac ( 1449 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @12:04PM (#6461910) Homepage
        " Sharing usually involves taking something that belongs to you, and depriving yourself of it "

        Get with the program.
        File-Sharing is really license sharing. There's no need to be pedantic about that use of terminology. "Piracy" , "stealing" sure. But I think this is a widely accepted alternate definition of "sharing".

        Where the cognative dissonance comes in - is the license terms forbid it, but everyday common sense does not.
        (for example, someone blasting their boom box - are they necessarily sharing their license with anybody with in earshot? How about your wife listening to a CD you bought, and left in the car you share? Those are examples of common sense telling us there's no violation of license terms going on - but the LETTER, and some cases INTENT of the license terms IS being violated
  • by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:27AM (#6460617)
    With somewhere around a quarter of the US population engaging in filesharing, I suspect that corporate-run prisons will be a growth sector over the coming years.
  • Anybody got a dime (Score:5, Insightful)

    by krray ( 605395 ) * on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:27AM (#6460618)
    I'll need to call my lawyer shortly...

    Based on this new bill ... TECHNICALLY I would be in violation of "uploading" my song files to my Mac and playing them over my LAN to the stereo with my SliMP3 player? It's all simply peer to peer networking.

    Ironically I've _never_ done Napster or Kazaa or Freenet or any of those types of P2P networks. Yet the RIAA probably wonders why people like me have simply STOPPED buying CD's. Not 1 for 3 years now.
    • Read the bill (Score:4, Informative)

      by sterno ( 16320 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:40AM (#6460791) Homepage
      No, you wouldn't technically be in violation. It says you are in trouble if you provide the ability for the public to copy more than 10 copies at a value of more than $2,500. As long as you aren't providing access to this stuff to the public, then it's not effecting you.
      • Re:Read the bill (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:57AM (#6461019) Journal
        It says you are in trouble if you provide the ability for the public to copy more than 10 copies at a value of more than $2,500.

        You misread.

        The part you are probably referring to says that merely making files available to the public over a computer network is automatically considered to satisfy the 10 copy/$2,500 requirement, even if no one downloads it.

        It makes the mere act of sharing a single file fall under the criminal penalties, whereas before they had to prove you distributed significant amounts of copyrighted materials.

        For purposes of section 2319(b) of title 18, the placing of a copyrighted work, without the authorization of the copyright owner, on a computer network acces-sible to members of the public who are able to copy the work through such access shall be considered to be the distribution, during a 180-day period, of at least 10 copies of that work with a retail value of more than $2,500.
    • by blacktyde ( 76751 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:47AM (#6460898) Homepage
      It's not a question of not buying CD's, it's a question of not buying CD's that are on RIAA labels. Speaking as someone who is a memeber of the independant music community, I can say that bands like ours could use all the support we could get, in order to try and find a place for ourselves and avoid what boils down to a Management Union. The more independant music you buy, the less power the RIAA has, whereas if you don't buy -any- music, then the balance of power stays the same, and believe it or not, you actually help fund their statistics of people not buying music due to piracy. And for the recrod, there are plenty of music labels that aren't members of the RIAA. For example, If you're into Punk, (My area of expertise) there is Street Anthem Records and Fat Wreck Records. Both are known for treating their bands with the level of dignity and respect (and revenue ) that performers aught to be due. What I'm saying is that it's necessary to go a step further than not supporting the RIAA. You have to support their enemy, which would be free and independant music organizations.

      And now its time for my shameless self plug, since we don't have the billions of the RIAA backing us for their own exploitive purposes, and probably never will:

      The Pubcrawlers
      New England Celtic Punk
  • by Moderation abuser ( 184013 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:28AM (#6460621)
    I mean, it's not as if they're even hiding that they've been bought now.

    So, publicly funded election campaigns and permanent and continuous auditing of their finances.

  • Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IpsissimusMarr ( 672940 ) * on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:28AM (#6460625) Journal
    I think this is a great direction to head with our already broken justice system. Within a few years I'll be able to go to work with a loaded AK-47 and massacre... ohh lets say anywhere between 10-12 co-workers, and get a lighter sentence than if I downloaded a few songs/movies from the internet.

    WTF is going on when I can assault someone, sell drugs, or some such and get a lenient sentence (which means I'll be out in less than half the time sentenced for) but if I do anything computer related its some gawd-awful thing.

    Its called a "perceived threat". And the entertainment industies are scared shitless that, as the article indicates "they try to hold on to their business models", they may have to change models. Lawmakers see a threat because they're campaign funds come from these sales. And it is amplified by the fact most are technologically-inclined(Lets blow their computers up, yeah!). Here's a thought, using technology as a tool. But what good is a tool to them if they can't control it outright? That seems to be their outlook.

    The entertainment industries have to take a good hard look at the future. Piss of your buyers or work to accomidate them while makeing cash.

    Read the proposal: "not less than $15,000,000" "for investigation and prosecution of violations" of the "Author, Consumer, and Computer Owner Protection and Security (ACCOPS) Act of 2003". [Great acronym]

    Shit, everytime I hear about a law like this I get to urge to move to another country, and even then you're not always safe from this sort of stupidity.
  • Felony? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tsali ( 594389 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:29AM (#6460634)
    A felony? Why not a misdeamenor? WTF?

    I can leave a CD at my buddy's house and no one cares....

    Time to write to Congress again... third time this week....
    • Re:Felony? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jpsst34 ( 582349 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:39AM (#6460781) Journal
      I'm not for bills like this, and I certainly don't side with RIAA and MPAA, but I think so many here are missing the point. There's a difference between leaving a CD at your buddy's house and putting your CD on KaZaa (or whatever goofy capitalization they use). When you leave it at your buddy's house, you no longer have it. He can listen to it. You can't. On the other hand, I have different fingers. I mean, on the other hand, when you post the CD on KazAA you still have it and can still listen to it. As can anyone that downloads it from you. It's not sharing, it's copying. If you made a copy of a CD and left that copy at your buddies house, never expecting to get that copy back, then there would be a problem and someone would care.
    • Re:Felony? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by aborchers ( 471342 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:56AM (#6461004) Homepage Journal
      A felony? Why not a misdeamenor? WTF?

      IANAL, but if I'm reading the bill correctly, I think what they're trying to do is ammend the law to the point where putting a file on a P2P network is equivalent to a level of traditional copying already defined as a felony. i.e. As it is already a felony to make >n copies, it is assumed that putting material on a P2P network permits that many copies to made.

      What I can't believe (well, sadly, I can coming from this band of copyright thugs) is how they plan to redefine the law to make uploading, even if no downloading occurs, equivalent to making the physical copies for distribution. Looks an awfully lot like "pre-crime" to me, and I hope the sensible heads in Congress will give this piecve of crap the shredding it deserves.

  • But what jail will be big enough to hold all the fileswappers?
  • Copyright ownersip (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eoyount ( 689574 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:29AM (#6460642)
    So if I want to share my own copyrighted works free of charge, would that make me a felon, or just anyone who downloads them and makes them available to others?
  • Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GMontag ( 42283 ) <.moc.gatnomyug. .ta. .gatnomg.> on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:30AM (#6460646) Homepage Journal
    Just wondering why when they are both Democrats, as in this case, the /. story does not mention their party. When they are Republicans the party is made very clear, like with Sen. Hatch.
    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Carbonite ( 183181 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:43AM (#6460845)
      It's similar to the homeless disappearing from the media during Democratic administrations and magically reappearing as soon as a Republican is inaugurated.
  • by kasparov ( 105041 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:30AM (#6460647)
    Looks like more hoops for p2p software developers to jump through to stay out of jail...

    7 `` 1822. Notice and consent relating to certain soft-
    8 ware
    9 ``(a) Whoever knowingly offers enabling software for
    10 download over the Internet and does not--
    11 ``(1) clearly and conspicuously warn any person
    12 downloading that software, before it is downloaded,
    13 that it is enabling software and could create a secu-
    14 rity and privacy risk for the user's computer; and
    15 ``(2) obtain that person's prior consent to the
    16 download after that warning;
    17 shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than
    18 6 months, or both.

    Looks like Freenet is labeled as "enabling software" under terms of the proprosed law.

    19 ``(b) As used in this section, the term `enabling soft-
    20 ware' means software that, when installed on the user's
    21 computer, enables 3rd parties to store data on that com-
    22 puter, or use that computer to search other computers'
    23 contents over the Internet.''.

    The proposed law also seeks to impose up to a 5 year jail term for registering a domain using false information... Bad stuff.

  • by MarcQuadra ( 129430 ) * on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:31AM (#6460655)
    Seriously, if things were as our forefathers had intended the people behind this type of legislation wouldn't want to leave their house without bodyguards.

    I'm still amazed that Ken Lay and his Enron buddies haven't been shot yet; what was it, 150,000 retirements they destroyed?

    I think the higher-ups (in gov't and corporations) would be a LOT more responsible if they feared for their lives a bit more.
    • by Arslan ibn Da'ud ( 636514 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:49AM (#6460932) Homepage
      Sorry dude, but your title is misleading. I think you're implying
      that CEO's and other corporate leaders should be more afraid of
      revenge wrought as a result of their behavior. But how many
      terrorists target CEO's and leave the innocent population alone? How
      many individuals in the WTC had 'bad behavior'?

      A terrorist can (and does) strike fear in the hearts of the just and
      unjust alike...wouldn't you rather strike fear in the hearts of the
      unjust and leave the just alone? Much harder problem...
  • by CompWerks ( 684874 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:31AM (#6460662)
    To support the EFF. It's quite clear that the major record labels have some pretty good lobbyists to get a bill like this one on paper.
  • voters (Score:5, Interesting)

    by leomekenkamp ( 566309 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:32AM (#6460671)

    Please tell me again how many people in the US make use of p2p networks.

    How many of those have voted for these politicians in the past and will be pissed off enough to vote for someone else?

    How many that have not voted for these politicians and will vote for them now?

    My guess is that the first number >>> second number. Exist Conyers and Berman

    • Re:voters (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:52AM (#6460968) Homepage
      Please tell me again how many people in the US make use of p2p networks.

      How many of those have voted for these politicians in the past and will be pissed off enough to vote for someone else?

      I bet that if you look at the demographics for P2P users, you will find that a majority of their ages would be between teens and mid twenties. Many are either not able to vote or don't care enough to vote. Once they get convicted, the Senators don't have to worry about them voting again.
  • No! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:32AM (#6460673) Homepage
    All my porn comes from P2P! How am I supposed to get it now?!
  • by BlackHawk-666 ( 560896 ) <ivan.hawkes@gmail.com> on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:33AM (#6460676) Homepage
    Why risk five years in prison when you can do easy time instead? Give up your P2P networks and purchase (or steal, we know what you little motherfuckers are like!) a handgun. Now go to your local video store and rob them at gunpoint! You're still likely to get a lesser sentance than if you'd downloaded the file, plus you don't have the cost of burning a CD! Woot!
  • Domain Names too (Score:5, Insightful)

    by agentZ ( 210674 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:33AM (#6460681)
    There's more! Under this bill it would also be a crime to use false information when registering a domain name. The punishment is up to five years in prison. Of course, there are no prohibitions against using that now guarenteed-to-be-accurate information for marketing purposes. Sigh.
  • by dipipanone ( 570849 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:33AM (#6460689)
    OK, now I understand why the Supreme Court recently legalized sodomy. Clearly, it was necessary to make it legal before the RIAA and the US government start systematically buggering the general public.

    <RIAA spokesperson>
    Lube? What do you mean, lube? You're a thief, plain and simple, so you're going to be buggered in the exact manner that I specify. Which means no lube!
    </RIAA spokesperson>
  • Shoplift! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lt Razak ( 631189 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:34AM (#6460709)
    I guess I should go back to shoplifting the CD's from Best Buy.

    Same chances of getting caught... and it won't be a felony.

  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <tmsNO@SPAMinfamous.net> on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:35AM (#6460717) Homepage

    Welcome to the War on Copying!

    (Brought to you by the government that brought you the smashingly successfuly War on Drugs, which after 32 years of increasing the drug abuse problem and smashing civil liberties, we're sure to win any day now.)

    Mandatory minimum sentances for copiers. The death penalty for copying "kingpins". Criminaliztion of CD burners as "copying paraphernalia". Zero tolerance laws, where kids who write down pop song lyrics in on their schoolbook covers will get busted.

    Oh yes, and more smashing of civil liberties. And more people in jail (in the nation that already has the highest incarceration rate in the world), and more money for the prison-industrial complex.

    Coming soon to a nation near you. But you know, Copying is public enemy number one...

  • Idiocy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cioxx ( 456323 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:35AM (#6460718) Homepage
    Jails are already running substantially over budget and overpopulated in many states. They are releasing actual felons and lots of non-violent drug offenders prematurely due to this fact.

    Locking up some poor schmuck as a felon for sharing his shitty 128kbps rips of 50cent would not only define anti-reason but also would be unfeasable from the economic standpoint. Either you have to lock up half of your population or be unable to enforce the law. This is just a losing position this bill has, and was put forward for symbolic purposes only.

    Sort of like that time when Rangel introduced a bill [cnn.com] to reinstate the draft to prove a point in the wake of Iraqi War.
  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:38AM (#6460759) Journal
    This bill doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of passing--it wasn't written to pass, and it isn't expected to get very far.

    HOWEVER, the 'rewrite' of it, which is far less egregious and overreaching, will seem like a huge compromise in comparison, and will get through without much problem. If it was introduced on its own, it would be fought tooth and nail, but now...

    This is standard practice: If you want the moon, shoot for the sun. If you want a controversial law passed, start by asking for something ten times worse.
  • Amendment VIII (Score:5, Insightful)

    by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:38AM (#6460764) Journal
    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
  • by ewhenn ( 647989 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:41AM (#6460819)
    Content like movies, music and software are the country's No. 1 export, but the creators are being hurt by people who use technology to get the content for free, Conyers said.

    I see, so passing this bill into law will clearly prevent people in foreign countries that are not subject to US laws from sharing and downloading files. Right.
  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:57AM (#6461024) Journal
    One would think the seriousness of a crime would dictate the amount of punishment, as in, murder should rank up there at the top.

    But it seems we are heading into two different directions. Crimes and their punishment are being classified into crimes against people and crimes against corporations. Crimes against people can be plea bargained down to minimal sentences. Crimes against corporations are constantly on the upswing as far as severity and punishment.

    I remember when I first noticed this was during a period when those two kids from Delaware murdered their newborn child and dumped it into the trash. Their bail was set at $250,000. During that same time someone got nailed with a tone dialer (Bernie S mbe) and his bail was set at $300,000. The Delaware kids sentence for murder ended up being just two years each. Not bad, huh?

  • Decoy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Poeir ( 637508 ) <poeir.geoNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday July 17, 2003 @10:59AM (#6461061) Journal
    Frequently, bills are introduced to Congress to test the waters, or distract attention from bills that are likely to passed to more outrageous bills, that will not be passed. While there is an outcry over the decoy bill, the actual bill, while not as bad, is still preposterous, is slid in quietly; on its own or as a rider. (Of course, in some instances the decoy bill actually does get passed, which is what appears to have happened with the PATRIOT Act; in part due to the name).

    Quite frankly, I think this is a decoy bill. Where's the real one?
  • by ZaMoose ( 24734 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @11:06AM (#6461159)
    Wait, so if I write a song that contains an E-F chord progression [411mania.com] and then upload it onto the KaZaa network, can I be charged with a felony?

    Then, can I punch Lars in the face? Repeatedly?
  • by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @11:26AM (#6461406) Homepage Journal

    From article:

    If you have a file stored on your computer and your computer is connected to a publicly available network, you may not even know that you are committing a felony, but this law could put you in jail...

    Every computer has copyrighted material on their machines. Windows is copyrighted by Microsoft, so in essence, this bill makes committing a felony as simple as connecting a Windows machine to the internet. Someone who misconfigures their file and print sharing services, and inadvertently shares their whole C drive has just committed a felony - regardless of their intentions.

    There are already viruses which turn unsuspecting Windows machines into filesharing nodes and spambots. If this law is passed, computer virus victims could literally be sent to jail for doing nothing more than checking their email. When it comes down to it, most users are not sophisticated enough to correctly configure their file and print sharing on windows machines, let alone detect when their box has been owned by a filesharing virus. This law would literally make it a crime for joe user to connect to the internet after his box gets hacked.

  • Theses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday July 17, 2003 @11:27AM (#6461424) Homepage
    I am sorely tempted to print these out in 36 point font and staple them to Howard Berman's door:
    • Copyright infringement is not the same thing as theft.
    • Copyright infringement is already illegal. We do not need an additional law to deal with it.
    • Prison time is not a suitable punishment for file-swapping.
    • The vast majority of copyright infringement and subsequent revenue loss takes place not online, but overseas.
    • Dropping revenue figures, particularly in a sluggish economy with high unemployment, cannot be blamed on file-swapping alone.
    • The Recording Industry has not made its case that file-swapping leads to substantial lost revenues.
    • The Recording Industry is living under the illusion that it is a mature industry. If it wishes to earn more revenues, then it needs to shed its adversity to risk.
    • The Recording Industry does not care about artists, and does not represent their interests.
    • The Recording Industry is not pro-First Amendment.
    • The suppression of file-swapping is not about preserving intellectual property; it is about controlling the distribution of information, including legitimate distribution of properly licensed information.
    • The single best way to prevent the spread of computer viruses is to not use Microsoft Office or Microsoft Outlook.
    • If kids want to get their hands on pornography, then it is time for their parents to have "the talk."
    • Without peer-to-peer networks, kids will still get pornography from friends and from the vendor down the street.
    • The government creates its own security risks with bad foreign policy.
    • Peer-to-peer networks aid, rather than inhibit, intelligence gathering efforts.
    • The best means of protecting national security is through human intelligence, not by making illegal a line of communication.
    Have I missed anything?
  • by gorbachev ( 512743 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @11:27AM (#6461425) Homepage
    Up to 5 years in prison?

    What we need to do is get Berman in prison, that's the real problem here.

    Proletariat of the world, unite to kill politicians who've been bought
  • by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @11:43AM (#6461660) Homepage Journal

    Duplication of creative content is not stealing since the original owner of the content still possesses it. Why is duplication considered to be so immoral? Duplication is devaluation; while the original owner still has the bits, those bits are no longer worth what they were before. Supply has increased, and intersects with the demand curve at a lower point, which means the same bits now sell at a lower price.

    Obviously the creators of the content would like to insure that they remain the sole entity allowed to collect revenues for the content, and also insure that the price point is as high on the demand curve as possible. But do they have this right? Does their self-interest override that of other people?

    The Constitution provides a limited-time monopoly on duplication of content to its creator, and our legal system has inferred that this monopoly may be transferred. Not everyone involved in early American government agreed with this idea, however. In particular, Thomas Jefferson pointed out that the spreading of ideas could not be stopped, benefitted the public, and could not be said to have truly harmed the originator of the ideas since he still possessed them.

    The real question is not whether duplication is illegal, or whether it is immoral; it is whether it should be illegal. Not all activities that are illegal should be illegal; not all activities that are immoral should be illegal, either.

    The supposed harmful effect of duplication is devaluation of the original. I say "supposed," because it is entirely likely that the loss of value to the content originator is far exceeded by the economy's gain in value as the content is reproduced. But should activities be illegal just because they devalue someone else's property?

    I believe that rights should be absolute and unlimited except as they interfere with the rights of others. I believe the government exists solely to protect those rights from infringement by others within and without the government's jurisdiction. Individuals have the right to do whatever they choose with their person or property, so long as it does not interfere with another individual's right to do so. In other words, any activity engaged in by two individuals must involve the consent of both, and requires the consent of noone else.

    This sometimes allows activities that I personally might find abhorrent. As a Christian, I find many activities to be wrong that the general public does not. However, this does not give me a right to regulate their activities or infringe upon their rights. Individuals may say things I disagree with; they do not need my consent to speak. However, I may or may not consent to listen. So long as the activity of another individual does not without my consent harm or kill me, or damage or confiscate my property, those activities should still be legal.

    Activities that devalue the property of another do not actually harm that individual. The individual still possesses the property, and the property has not actually changed. These activities should be allowed. If an individual spreads information about a defective product, the defective product is devalued. The right to speak out about this product should of course not be infringed. Even if a product is not defective in any way, an individual might mount a campaign to convince the public not to buy the product: by advertising an alternative, for example. Advertising a competing product may devalue the original, but it should not be illegal.

    Competition may undercut prices to devalue their competitors' products. This should not be illegal. It is an individual's right to do with his property as he chooses. If he chooses to sell it and take a loss, that is his right. While this might cause trouble for his competitors in the short-term, in the long-term he will not be able to sustain his loss, and the price will rise again, allowing more room in the market for competition to return. (Or else he will fund the loss with sales of

  • And remember, kids (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @11:43AM (#6461668) Homepage

    House Representatives have a 98% reelection rate. [commoncause.org] Why? Well, because they enjoy a 5 to 1 advantage in campaign funding over their opponent(s), and Joe Sixpack trusts the candidate who can afford to be "As Seen On TV".

    The more evil Berman gets, the more he's likely to be reelected. Apparently it doesn't pay to be an honest politician.

    But Berman isn't the problem, he's just a particularly blatant symbol of it. Contributing to the EFF is just papering over the cracks. Campaign reform, or civil disobedience, or outright revolt is the only way to get these parasites off of us.

  • My two cents... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eyeball ( 17206 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @12:02PM (#6461884) Journal
    I think I'll add to the static.

    I have no sympathy for the record companies. I think they started a downward spiral years before P2P networks came on the scene. Napster & co. have just been the last nails in the coffin.

    I used to have roughly 35,000 mp3s. I can't pretend this was any sort of legit file sharing, it was a gross orgy of gathering every song I liked even slightly. But I recently deleted them all and bought from Apple iTunes maybe a half-dozen song I couldn't live without.

    The lessons I learned were: a) sharing a few tunes with someone to turn them on is one thing, downloading tens of thousands is imposible to justify. b) As I said I don't have any sympathy for the bands represented by the RIAA, and don't think they deserve any money. By having thousands of songs, all I'm doing is helping to promote them for free. c) Music is addictive, and free music is even more so. There's much better things to obsess over.

    So in short: RIAA is bad, but so is downloading mp3's. Avoid it all and just enjoy the ocassional song, preferably a local band or something. You don't need much more.

  • by Baldrson ( 78598 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @12:37PM (#6462319) Homepage Journal
    If 75% of the public opposed H-1B expansions and only one congressman voted with the public, how sure are you this legislation is going to go down in flames?

    The Homeland Security system does seem to be heading toward the sort of exceedingly low-wage system of "employment" so desired by the folks who brought us H-1B -- and the felonization of P2P file systems is exactly in line with the rest of the war of terror on the population committed routinely by the folks who call the tunes.

    Even slaves get food, shelter, clothing and medical care -- which is more than a lot of tech workers are getting these days.

    Someone will figure out that slavery is a superior system to the current con-game and also figure out a way to use the military against their own populations to enforce it. I think its already started in privatized prisons and their prisoner-labor programs [umass.edu] and the exploding rate of incarceration in the Unted States [motherjones.com] -- however they really do have to figure out what to do about the prisoner rape problem [hrw.org] before they can be considered good massah's by computer nerds who will then work not for money but for privileges in the system.

  • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @12:41PM (#6462362)
    Okay, so we've got this proposal -- only that -- to make uploading to p2p networks a felony. What other deeply serious offenses on the list of felonies can possibly compare to the societal damage caused by file sharing? In Alaska, felonies are described as "serious offenses, for which the sentence can include imprisonment for a year or more." The six classes, in Alaska, include:

    Murder in the first degree.

    "Unclassified" felonies, including second-degree murder, attempted murder, selling heroin to a minor, and kidnapping.

    Felony sexual offenses -- including rape and statutory rape.

    Class A felonies: manslaughter, armed robbery, arson with risk of physical injury, selling heroin to adults, and firt-degree assault.

    Class B felonies: unarmed robbery, theft over $25,000, selling cocaine or pot to a minor, burglary in a dwelling, bribery, perjury, second-degree assault, etc.

    Class C: negligent homicide, burglary not in a dwelling, vehicle theft, repeat drunk driving, and bootlegging.

    If only we didn't know that "bootlegging" in that last class has to do with alcohol, there'd at least be one example of a felony that sounded remotely like "letting someone copy a song for free." But... nope.

    One of the qualities of a working justice system is that punishments are proportionate. This bill violates that in spades. Why not let them chop off our mouse hands, you know?

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser