September 28, 2005 12:27 PM PDT

Congress to legislate file swapping?

WASHINGTON--A California senator has suggested that because file-sharing networks continue to house illegal files, they should be shut down.

Intellectual property protection "can't function in a country where the high-tech services become such that you can't protect copyright," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said Wednesday at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. The session centered on the landmark Supreme Court decision on MGM v. Grokster, which ruled that file-sharing services can be liable for their users' infringing behavior.

Pointing to what she called a "rise in peer to peers" since the Grokster decision, Feinstein said current law is not effective enough to deter illegal file swapping and the government must enact stronger enforcement measures. "If we don't stop it," she said, "it's going to destroy these intellectual property industries."

It remained unclear what remedies the senator would seek, though she said she didn't think any lawmakers supported an approach that would involve "going out and arresting high schoolers" who subvert copyright rules. Even so, her statements marked somewhat of a departure: When the Grokster decision initially came out, members of Congress said they were inclined to take a hands-off, wait-and-see approach.

Committee chair Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, indicated that Congress was better suited than the courts to address the matter. But at the close of the hearing, he announced, "At least in the short term, I think we'll carry out the wishes of those who want us to do nothing."

That, indeed, was the sentiment senators generally heard from members of a panel representing the peer-to-peer, recording industry, consumer electronics and legal realms--echoing statements similar entities made at an earlier Senate hearing.

But Mary Beth Peters, registrar for the U.S. Copyright Office, said Congress needs to take immediate action on reforming what she deemed an "antiquated" section of copyright law that provides an "inefficient process to license musical works."

The law's "one at a time" approach for licensing individual musical works creates a tremendous roadblock for legitimate online services looking to add large amounts of media to their catalogs, she said. She--and later, Recording Industry Association of American President Cary Sherman--said a "blanket" licensing approach may be an option.

Lawmakers and panelists alike also indicated interest in promoting one-stop, third-party copyright registries--such as Snocap, created by Napster founder Shawn Fanning--that would amass terms of distribution from copyright holders and make them available to interested online retailers. Such a process is designed to save retailers time by erasing their need to broker large numbers of individual deals.

44 comments

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First
When a technology threatens your exploitation of artists, first try to buy a bill that makes file swapping software illegal, then when that doesnt work, try to buy a court ruling that makes it illegal, now that that hasnt worked, we're back to trying to buy a change in the law again.

Isnt there more important things our elected representatives should be doing than catering to a bloated outdated media industry?
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
Reply Link Flag
rick smith
It wasn't the RIAA or MPAA that called for this hearing... so you don't know what you are talking about.

It is P2P United that is trying to get the laws changed, not the MPAA or RIAA

And it is the US Senate that is leading the charge on trying to protect songwriters from greedy P2P services that steal our music and sell advertising with it that you should be condemning if you want to get all 'righteous' about it.
Posted by (8 comments )
Link Flag
First
When a technology threatens your exploitation of artists, first try to buy a bill that makes file swapping software illegal, then when that doesnt work, try to buy a court ruling that makes it illegal, now that that hasnt worked, we're back to trying to buy a change in the law again.

Isnt there more important things our elected representatives should be doing than catering to a bloated outdated media industry?
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
Reply Link Flag
rick smith
It wasn't the RIAA or MPAA that called for this hearing... so you don't know what you are talking about.

It is P2P United that is trying to get the laws changed, not the MPAA or RIAA

And it is the US Senate that is leading the charge on trying to protect songwriters from greedy P2P services that steal our music and sell advertising with it that you should be condemning if you want to get all 'righteous' about it.
Posted by (8 comments )
Link Flag
RIAA and MPAA payoff money at work!
This is what we call the RIAA and MPAA "dollar presents" to our "elected officials".
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RIAA and MPAA payoff money at work!
This is what we call the RIAA and MPAA "dollar presents" to our "elected officials".
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who's next?
"which ruled that file-sharing services can be liable for their users'
infringing behavior."

OK. Given that logic. It will now finally be possible to persecute gun
makers wherein their sold guns kill people.
Posted by Wowie Zowie (161 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What's next?
Follow that logic and get rid of tape drives, disc burners, hard
drives, recording devices - people have been copying music and
movies for a long time and the industry has always adapted. We
may be seeing the end of record companies and movie studios as
we know them, but that doesn't meen the end of music and movies
- and someone will figure out the best way to make money off of it
all.
Posted by (8 comments )
Link Flag
Rulez
We can now start holding all companies liable for everything they sell that can be used for illegal activities.

As I remember the court didn't say that P2P companies weren't liable unless they promoted their software for illegal purposes.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
rick smith
As a matter of fact there ARE a lot of laws regulating how firearms are sold and owned... as well there should be.

You don't see 13 year old kids running around with guns in school...

And they shouldn't be allowed to steal music either..

illegal behavior needs to be regulated for the benefit of society as a whole.
Posted by (8 comments )
Link Flag
Who's next?
"which ruled that file-sharing services can be liable for their users'
infringing behavior."

OK. Given that logic. It will now finally be possible to persecute gun
makers wherein their sold guns kill people.
Posted by Wowie Zowie (161 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What's next?
Follow that logic and get rid of tape drives, disc burners, hard
drives, recording devices - people have been copying music and
movies for a long time and the industry has always adapted. We
may be seeing the end of record companies and movie studios as
we know them, but that doesn't meen the end of music and movies
- and someone will figure out the best way to make money off of it
all.
Posted by (8 comments )
Link Flag
Rulez
We can now start holding all companies liable for everything they sell that can be used for illegal activities.

As I remember the court didn't say that P2P companies weren't liable unless they promoted their software for illegal purposes.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
rick smith
As a matter of fact there ARE a lot of laws regulating how firearms are sold and owned... as well there should be.

You don't see 13 year old kids running around with guns in school...

And they shouldn't be allowed to steal music either..

illegal behavior needs to be regulated for the benefit of society as a whole.
Posted by (8 comments )
Link Flag
The solution is simple
The solution is simple: the law should be changed so that those who have financial interest in their copyrighted works must announce it. Then it would be sensible to require those who provide means to transfer information to limit the transfer of those particular works. That's the way it worked hundreds of years ago when copyright was created to protect a cartel of printers.

But if what congress wants (or some of its members want) is to disallow the transfer of anything unless specifically licensed, or to collect a tax on the transfer of all works and give the money to just a few information merchants, then perhaps it should go to China to learn how to control the internet.
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
rick smith
Go read the copyright laws and then a book about how music publishing works...

There are already licensing agencies that you can contact to easily license any music you want AND a compulsory license in place to keep the copyright holders from monopolizing the music.
Posted by (8 comments )
Link Flag
The solution is simple
The solution is simple: the law should be changed so that those who have financial interest in their copyrighted works must announce it. Then it would be sensible to require those who provide means to transfer information to limit the transfer of those particular works. That's the way it worked hundreds of years ago when copyright was created to protect a cartel of printers.

But if what congress wants (or some of its members want) is to disallow the transfer of anything unless specifically licensed, or to collect a tax on the transfer of all works and give the money to just a few information merchants, then perhaps it should go to China to learn how to control the internet.
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
rick smith
Go read the copyright laws and then a book about how music publishing works...

There are already licensing agencies that you can contact to easily license any music you want AND a compulsory license in place to keep the copyright holders from monopolizing the music.
Posted by (8 comments )
Link Flag
Just try Prude Feinsten
Any time I may (keyword: may) feel any guilt filesharing a press statement from the RIAA or comments from politicians owned by corporate america gives me drive and motivation to keep going. Keep up the good work Feinstein. And tell your fellow senators with their selective consciences to keep up the good work also. They also give me motivation. I wonder why I have to pay taxes. The government represents business more than it represents my interests.
Posted by Darryl Snortberry (96 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Just try Prude Feinsten
Any time I may (keyword: may) feel any guilt filesharing a press statement from the RIAA or comments from politicians owned by corporate america gives me drive and motivation to keep going. Keep up the good work Feinstein. And tell your fellow senators with their selective consciences to keep up the good work also. They also give me motivation. I wonder why I have to pay taxes. The government represents business more than it represents my interests.
Posted by Darryl Snortberry (96 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Creating more criminals
Yes, thank you Senators for caving to an industry that has been
found guilty of payola schemes, price fixing and not paying
royalties due to the authors the claim to represent.

Instead, we'll just make it illegal -- throw more people in jail. It's
worked so well for the drug problem.

"What are you in for?"
"I traded a song on the internet."

This only goes to prove how corrupted our Senators are. They've
extended copyrights to outrageous terms for these greedy
people. Enough is enough!
Posted by m.meister (278 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Creating more criminals
Yes, thank you Senators for caving to an industry that has been
found guilty of payola schemes, price fixing and not paying
royalties due to the authors the claim to represent.

Instead, we'll just make it illegal -- throw more people in jail. It's
worked so well for the drug problem.

"What are you in for?"
"I traded a song on the internet."

This only goes to prove how corrupted our Senators are. They've
extended copyrights to outrageous terms for these greedy
people. Enough is enough!
Posted by m.meister (278 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Close High Schools!!! Evil breeding grounds.
It has now become necessary that The United States close all of its high schools immediately. These gathering points are major centers for illegal drug trade, music swapping, and the free exchange of Ideas. Therefore, we must not allow this medium to continue its operation unchecked.

High schools are a central location for the acquisition of numerous types of contraband and ideas. They may serve a purpose, but they provide a means for criminals, and those who act against their spirirt, to do evil, so we MUST shut them down, just like bittorrent and the P2P networks that provide valuable services but can be abused by individual criminals who choose to abuse them!

Nevermind the current lack of quality material provided by mainstream media services, and the unrealistic standard set by pre-2000 CD sales, the RIAA is looking out for YOU! The MPAA wants YOU to be happy!!! Buy more of the CRAP they sell and you'll love your life!
Posted by seance (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Close High Schools!!! Evil breeding grounds.
It has now become necessary that The United States close all of its high schools immediately. These gathering points are major centers for illegal drug trade, music swapping, and the free exchange of Ideas. Therefore, we must not allow this medium to continue its operation unchecked.

High schools are a central location for the acquisition of numerous types of contraband and ideas. They may serve a purpose, but they provide a means for criminals, and those who act against their spirirt, to do evil, so we MUST shut them down, just like bittorrent and the P2P networks that provide valuable services but can be abused by individual criminals who choose to abuse them!

Nevermind the current lack of quality material provided by mainstream media services, and the unrealistic standard set by pre-2000 CD sales, the RIAA is looking out for YOU! The MPAA wants YOU to be happy!!! Buy more of the CRAP they sell and you'll love your life!
Posted by seance (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If You're Going To Talk Abou Protecting IP
if anyone is going to talk about protecting ip, how about also talking about protecting fair use? unfortunately, drm is an excuse to enshrine into law, software and hardware the ability to restrict fair use.

so, go ahead and talk about protecting the interests of copyright holders. but also talk about the interests of the consumers. that's directed at everyone, but especially the riaa, mpaa and our congress.

mark d.
Posted by markdoiron (1138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If You're Going To Talk Abou Protecting IP
if anyone is going to talk about protecting ip, how about also talking about protecting fair use? unfortunately, drm is an excuse to enshrine into law, software and hardware the ability to restrict fair use.

so, go ahead and talk about protecting the interests of copyright holders. but also talk about the interests of the consumers. that's directed at everyone, but especially the riaa, mpaa and our congress.

mark d.
Posted by markdoiron (1138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Washington's Convenience of Opinion
Wait, a second.

I thought Hollywood was the equivalent of the anti-Christ to the Republicans? Doesn't Hollywood embody and promote all of the vile liberal ideals and values that are so reviled and despised by the right?

And now the Republican controlled congress is looking into creating legislation that would perpetuate the very economic model that allows Hollywood to produce the filth that they so object to?

When you're up for re-election and you need those red state votes, rail against the Hollywood hydra. When it comes time to step up to protect big business and campaign donations, switch sides.

Duplicity at it's finest.
Posted by Sewer Kraut (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Washington's Convenience of Opinion
Wait, a second.

I thought Hollywood was the equivalent of the anti-Christ to the Republicans? Doesn't Hollywood embody and promote all of the vile liberal ideals and values that are so reviled and despised by the right?

And now the Republican controlled congress is looking into creating legislation that would perpetuate the very economic model that allows Hollywood to produce the filth that they so object to?

When you're up for re-election and you need those red state votes, rail against the Hollywood hydra. When it comes time to step up to protect big business and campaign donations, switch sides.

Duplicity at it's finest.
Posted by Sewer Kraut (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Songwriters need protection!
Songwriters need REAL protection from illegal file sharing... the Grokster case was a good first step, but further steps are needed to insure that American music is not destroyed by a pack of theives...

All of you people who are posting these attacks on the record labels need to understand that somebody HAS to make money on the music or you will NOT get anymore PROFESSIONAL music at all... soon all that will be left is the crap that you hear on MP3.com...
which is free already and you DON'T want it...
You keep stealing the good stuff... the PROFESSIONAL music. If you want to continue having that music, you need to pay for it.

THOU SHALT NOT STEAL... there's a very simple law... try to follow it for a change.
Posted by (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wake up and smell the coffee...
Most of the music coming from the companies that participate in the RIAA are far, far from what I would call professional. Independent labels and small non-US labels tend to put much better stuff out.

Plus artists need protection from the RIAA, too. The RIAA and associated record companies don't do much to help the songwriters unless they make it big time anyhow.

Also, anyone who is anti-P2P shows a gross misunderstanding of what it is about. P2P does have many illegal uses, but plenty of legal ones too. It's often used to distribute things legally like free software. Why? Because it is an open and faster method than simply relying on individual servers that can go down or be overwhelmed.

Keep your "Professional" music. I wouldn't download it if it was legal to download anyhow. If it was good, then I might even go so far as to buy it! And yes, I am a music lover.
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Link Flag
somebody HAS to make money...or do they?
"somebody HAS to make money on the music"

Nobody HAS to make money off of anything. The basic law of economics is that people will pay for what they want. An artist shouldn't be paid unless there is a public demand for what they create.

Look at the software industry. The open source movement has exploded, but nobody is getting paid directly for their product. Instead, you see them creating new business models that create alternative revenue streams to support their product, whilst keeping their product free.

The other law of economics is the lower the price is, the greater the distribution of said product. In "old world" economics (before digital communications), there was a cost associated with the duplication of information as well as physical products. While this "should" be the indicator of price, many individuals tack on the distributed cost of creation. When this is applied to CDs, there is significant inflation of the distributed cost. While the reported number changes (I have seen anywhere from 25%-60%), there is still significant bloat in the prices of CDs that isnt going to operational costs, (eg: Advertising, Production, Studio Equipment, etc), distributed costs, royalties, or R&D.

To me, the real problem is the fact that we have too many people who are extremely associated with one side (RIAA, MPAA) or the other (P2P). This basically chokes any effort to try and marry the two together and build a better system that takes the best from both sides. I once read a comment saying that there should be a massive server system that would be set up like this:
- it would charge 5¢ a song and $1 a movie
- would be completely DRM free
- the database would hold millions of songs and movies
- songs and movies would be available at various bitrates/qualities
If we had a system like that, piracy would essentially disappear. Trying to find a single song or movie in the P2P world is tricky, and sometimes impossible if you want a specific bitrate or quality, in addition to it being full of false positives. But I digress...
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Songwriters need protection!
Songwriters need REAL protection from illegal file sharing... the Grokster case was a good first step, but further steps are needed to insure that American music is not destroyed by a pack of theives...

All of you people who are posting these attacks on the record labels need to understand that somebody HAS to make money on the music or you will NOT get anymore PROFESSIONAL music at all... soon all that will be left is the crap that you hear on MP3.com...
which is free already and you DON'T want it...
You keep stealing the good stuff... the PROFESSIONAL music. If you want to continue having that music, you need to pay for it.

THOU SHALT NOT STEAL... there's a very simple law... try to follow it for a change.
Posted by (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wake up and smell the coffee...
Most of the music coming from the companies that participate in the RIAA are far, far from what I would call professional. Independent labels and small non-US labels tend to put much better stuff out.

Plus artists need protection from the RIAA, too. The RIAA and associated record companies don't do much to help the songwriters unless they make it big time anyhow.

Also, anyone who is anti-P2P shows a gross misunderstanding of what it is about. P2P does have many illegal uses, but plenty of legal ones too. It's often used to distribute things legally like free software. Why? Because it is an open and faster method than simply relying on individual servers that can go down or be overwhelmed.

Keep your "Professional" music. I wouldn't download it if it was legal to download anyhow. If it was good, then I might even go so far as to buy it! And yes, I am a music lover.
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Link Flag
somebody HAS to make money...or do they?
"somebody HAS to make money on the music"

Nobody HAS to make money off of anything. The basic law of economics is that people will pay for what they want. An artist shouldn't be paid unless there is a public demand for what they create.

Look at the software industry. The open source movement has exploded, but nobody is getting paid directly for their product. Instead, you see them creating new business models that create alternative revenue streams to support their product, whilst keeping their product free.

The other law of economics is the lower the price is, the greater the distribution of said product. In "old world" economics (before digital communications), there was a cost associated with the duplication of information as well as physical products. While this "should" be the indicator of price, many individuals tack on the distributed cost of creation. When this is applied to CDs, there is significant inflation of the distributed cost. While the reported number changes (I have seen anywhere from 25%-60%), there is still significant bloat in the prices of CDs that isnt going to operational costs, (eg: Advertising, Production, Studio Equipment, etc), distributed costs, royalties, or R&D.

To me, the real problem is the fact that we have too many people who are extremely associated with one side (RIAA, MPAA) or the other (P2P). This basically chokes any effort to try and marry the two together and build a better system that takes the best from both sides. I once read a comment saying that there should be a massive server system that would be set up like this:
- it would charge 5¢ a song and $1 a movie
- would be completely DRM free
- the database would hold millions of songs and movies
- songs and movies would be available at various bitrates/qualities
If we had a system like that, piracy would essentially disappear. Trying to find a single song or movie in the P2P world is tricky, and sometimes impossible if you want a specific bitrate or quality, in addition to it being full of false positives. But I digress...
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Cut, Copy, Paste: You cannot stop P2P
From day 1 the ability to copy, change, and transfer has been built into computers. Indeed, it is a fundamental precept of computing: the plasticity of data. Let's add to the problem the idea of Open-Source software and private data networks, and you'll soon realise that nothing is going to stop P2P. As long as digital infromation is digital it can, by its very nature, be modified or distributed. Sure, shut down companies who are profiting from P2P - your left with individuals who still want the material. It's ironic that it all comes down to the very supply and demand structure that the government is trying to defend.

Personally, I applaude the whole process. I don't beleive that music, culture, or art should be the preserve of the rich, or even only those that can afford it. The whole point of the net, and of computers, is that information can be spread to everyone, everywhere, anytime. What did everyone think was going to happen when that power became widespread? When the companies can provide an incentive to purchase, consumers will purchase. Many games don't allow online play with hacked copies, many albums come with inserts and album art - not to mention the fact that a live perforamce can't be pirated or substituted. I can go on and on with examples and solutions, and I can admit that for some things there are none, but in the end the whole discussion is moot. Welcome to the 21st century - It only gets crazier from here.
Posted by Hydrofirex (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cut, Copy, Paste: You cannot stop P2P
From day 1 the ability to copy, change, and transfer has been built into computers. Indeed, it is a fundamental precept of computing: the plasticity of data. Let's add to the problem the idea of Open-Source software and private data networks, and you'll soon realise that nothing is going to stop P2P. As long as digital infromation is digital it can, by its very nature, be modified or distributed. Sure, shut down companies who are profiting from P2P - your left with individuals who still want the material. It's ironic that it all comes down to the very supply and demand structure that the government is trying to defend.

Personally, I applaude the whole process. I don't beleive that music, culture, or art should be the preserve of the rich, or even only those that can afford it. The whole point of the net, and of computers, is that information can be spread to everyone, everywhere, anytime. What did everyone think was going to happen when that power became widespread? When the companies can provide an incentive to purchase, consumers will purchase. Many games don't allow online play with hacked copies, many albums come with inserts and album art - not to mention the fact that a live perforamce can't be pirated or substituted. I can go on and on with examples and solutions, and I can admit that for some things there are none, but in the end the whole discussion is moot. Welcome to the 21st century - It only gets crazier from here.
Posted by Hydrofirex (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gotta love the US...
People who don't care about humanity on the right, people who are starting to bow to the technology-limiting interests on the left. So I guess now it isn't just Republicans that are ruining things... the Democrats have joined the party.

Let's just split and make a liberal country and a conservative country.
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Already Happened...
The genesis of that kind of a split happened more than 200 years ago.

One country is called the United States of America, the other is called Canada :D
Posted by Sewer Kraut (9 comments )
Link Flag
Gotta love the US...
People who don't care about humanity on the right, people who are starting to bow to the technology-limiting interests on the left. So I guess now it isn't just Republicans that are ruining things... the Democrats have joined the party.

Let's just split and make a liberal country and a conservative country.
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Already Happened...
The genesis of that kind of a split happened more than 200 years ago.

One country is called the United States of America, the other is called Canada :D
Posted by Sewer Kraut (9 comments )
Link Flag
Tax the medium, not the message
In Canada, recording media (VHS, CD-ROM, DVD) are taxed with the assumption that they will be used to copy copyrighted media, and the tax is gathered on behalf of, and distributed to recording artists. This is a proactive approach to rewarding artists for their intellectual material. This is something the government can control. Because of the global reach of the Internet, governments will only take two steps backward for every one step they try to take forward, when it comes to preventing the use (abuse) of P2P networks.

Here is a novel idea, remove a corporations right to own and sue for copyright infringement, and return that right to the hands of the actual artists who produce this intellectual property and I bet you'll have less people shouting about this issue, and you'd probably have more people willing to exchange their money for services offered my individuals, as opposed to power hungry corporations. No one like a greedy middle man. If you don't think so, you don't know Jack!

Recently I was at a Pearl Jam concert, and these smart guys knew what to do. Immediately after the live concert you could download a copy of it from their website for the reasonable cost of $9.99. The sound quality was excellent, the price was right, and they were able to head off initial copyright infringement by being the first to market with their live and 'offical' bootleg.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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