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Bill Lets Music Companies Hack Napster-Like Systems

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 656 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... BILL LETS MUSIC COS HACK NAPSTER-LIKE SYSTEMS Reuters
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 25, 2002
      NHNE News List
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      Reuters / CNN
      July 25, 2002


      WASHINGTON, July 25 (Reuters) - Media companies would be allowed to sabotage
      Napster-style networks to prevent songs, movies and other copyrighted
      materials from being swapped over the Internet under a bill introduced in
      Congress on Thursday.

      The bill would permit recording companies and other copyright holders to
      hack onto networks to thwart users looking to download free music, and would
      protect them from lawsuits from users.

      Although Congress has little time to debate the bill before the August
      recess, sponsor Rep. Howard Berman, a California Democrat, said the measure
      was necessary because the decentralized systems were impossible to shut

      "No legislation can eradicate the problem of peer-to-peer piracy. However,
      enabling copyright creators to take action to prevent an infringing file
      from being shared via P2P (peer-to-peer) is an important first step," Berman
      said in remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives.

      Many large record labels have already resorted to a method known as
      "spoofing," where they hire firms to distribute "decoy" files that are empty
      or do not work in order to frustrate would-be downloaders of movies and

      Additionally, sources have said the major recording companies, like
      Bertelsmann AG BMG, EMI Group Plc , Vivendi Universal and Sony Corp <6758.T>
      are considering taking a new tack by suing individuals who use the services,
      rather than the companies that host them.

      The industry's trade group, the Recording Industry Association of America,
      on Thursday welcomed the bill.

      "We applaud Congressman Berman for introducing bipartisan legislation that
      takes an innovative approach to combating the serious problem of Internet
      piracy," said Hilary Rosen, chairman and chief executive officer of the

      "Online piracy undermines the growth of legitimate music sites and hurts all
      consumers in the long run. Every dollar lost to piracy is a dollar that
      cannot be invested in fresh, new artists we have all come to expect and
      enjoy," said Rosen.

      The bill does not specify what measures copyright owners could take to foil
      online song swapping, but does impose some limits on their efforts.

      Copyright owners would only be able to stop the trading of their own songs,
      and would be required to notify users and the Justice Department when they
      took action.

      Overzealous companies could face a government ban and lawsuits from users
      who suffered economic harm.

      The recording industry blames rampant online piracy for a decline in CD
      sales last year and has prosecuted online networks aggressively.

      But while the industry succeeded in shutting down the pioneer Napster
      service last summer, other less centralized networks like Kazaa and Morpheus
      continue to attract millions of users.

      "The current landscape for online music is dangerously one-sided, with the
      peer-to-peer pirates enjoying an unfair advantage," Rosen of the RIAA said.

      "It makes sense to clarify existing laws to ensure that copyright owners --
      those who actually take the time and effort to create an artistic work --
      are at least able to defend their works from mass piracy," Rosen said.

      Members of the movie industry also embraced the initiative, but not

      "We're pleased that a bipartisan group of lawmakers .. want to curb the
      explosion of Internet piracy," said Jack Valenti, president and chief
      executive officer of the Motion Picture Association of America, in a

      "However, there are aspects of the bill we believe need changing as it moves
      through the legislative process. We look forward to working with Congress in
      this regard," he said.

      A spokesman for Valenti was not immediately available to elaborate.


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