More bad ideas

July 24, 2002

Declan McCullagh reports that Howard Berman (D-CA) and Howard Coble (R-NC) plan to introduce a bill to give the music and movie industry the power to hack into the personals computers of anyone they accuse of illict file sharing. Could Hollywood hack your PC?

The measure would permit copyright holders to perform nearly unchecked electronic hacking if they have a "reasonable basis" to believe that piracy is taking place. The legislation would immunize groups such as the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America from all state and federal laws if they disable, block or otherwise impair a "publicly accessible peer-to-peer network."

Anyone whose computer was damaged in the process must receive the permission of the U.S. attorney general before filing a lawsuit, and a suit could be filed only if the actual monetary loss was more than $250.

So the MPAA or RIAA could damage data on or being transmitted to or from my computer without legal penalty if they have a "reasonable basis" to assume that piracy is taking place, and I have the responsibility to prove that it was not, if I want to recover from any damages created by the copyright holder? Would this give me the right as an individual copyright holder to perform electronic vigilantism without being constrained by other laws?

Posted by Andrew Raff at July 24, 2002 01:25 PM
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