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<nettime> Hatch Takes Aim at Illegal Downloading
J-D marston on Fri, 20 Jun 2003 19:24:44 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Hatch Takes Aim at Illegal Downloading

What do mean our 'leadership' in the US is out of touch?  MediaDefender?  
Remote computer destruction? This is sincerely funny, if not Ned Luddian
in character.  Jd.

Hatch Takes Aim at Illegal Downloading 
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 17, 2003; 5:22 PM 

WASHINGTON - The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday
he favors developing new technology to remotely destroy the computers of
people who illegally download music from the Internet.

The surprise remarks by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, during a hearing on
copyright abuses represent a dramatic escalation in the frustrating battle
by industry executives and lawmakers in Washington against illegal music

During a discussion on methods to frustrate computer users who illegally
exchange music and movie files over the Internet, Hatch asked technology
executives about ways to damage computers involved in such file trading.
Legal experts have said any such attack would violate federal anti-hacking

"No one is interested in destroying anyone's computer," replied Randy Saaf
of MediaDefender Inc., a secretive Los Angeles company that builds
technology to disrupt music downloads. One technique deliberately
downloads pirated material very slowly so other users can't.

"I'm interested," Hatch interrupted. He said damaging someone's computer
"may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights."

The senator acknowledged Congress would have to enact an exemption for
copyright owners from liability for damaging computers. He endorsed
technology that would twice warn a computer user about illegal online
behavior, "then destroy their computer."

"If we can find some way to do this without destroying their machines,
we'd be interested in hearing about that," Hatch said. "If that's the only
way, then I'm all for destroying their machines. If you have a few hundred
thousand of those, I think people would realize" the seriousness of their
actions, he said.

"There's no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws," Hatch said.

Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., who has been active in copyright debates in
Washington, urged Hatch to reconsider. Boucher described Hatch's role as
chairman of the Judiciary Committee as "a very important position, so when
Senator Hatch indicates his views with regard to a particular subject, we
all take those views very seriously."

Some legal experts suggested Hatch's provocative remarks were more likely
intended to compel technology and music executives to work faster toward
ways to protect copyrights online than to signal forthcoming legislation.

"It's just the frustration of those who are looking at enforcing laws that
are proving very hard to enforce," said Orin Kerr, a former Justice
Department cybercrimes prosecutor and associate professor at George
Washington University law school.

The entertainment industry has gradually escalated its fight against
Internet file-traders, targeting the most egregious pirates with civil
lawsuits. The Recording Industry Association of America recently won a
federal court decision making it significantly easier to identify and
track consumers - even those hiding behind aliases - using popular
Internet file-sharing software.

Kerr predicted it was "extremely unlikely" for Congress to approve a
hacking exemption for copyright owners, partly because of risks of
collateral damage when innocent users might be wrongly targeted.

"It wouldn't work," Kerr said. "There's no way of limiting the damage."

Last year, Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., ignited a firestorm across the
Internet over a proposal to give the entertainment industry new powers to
disrupt downloads of pirated music and movies. It would have lifted civil
and criminal penalties against entertainment companies for disabling,
diverting or blocking the trading of pirated songs and movies on the

But Berman, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary panel on the Internet
and intellectual property, always has maintained that his proposal
wouldn't permit hacker-style attacks by the industry on Internet users.

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