Just say no... to P2P
July 18, 2003 11:58 PM   Subscribe

Upload a File, Go to Prison. A new bill called the Author, Consumer and Computer Owner Protection and Security Act of 2003, or ACCOPS, proposed in US Congress on Wednesday would land a person in prison for five years and impose a fine of $250,000 for uploading a single file to a peer-to-peer network. The bill "clarifies" that uploading a single file of copyright content qualifies as a felony. Penalties for such an offense include up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. In addition, filming a movie in a theater without authorization would immediately qualify as a federal offense.
posted by riffola (36 comments total)

 
This is still proposed. Lets call our senator and unanimously request that this bill not be passed! Ill be letting mine know with a letter. (Oregon)
posted by Keyser Soze at 12:07 AM on July 19, 2003


One bit of information missing from the article: the amounts that the bill's sponsors have received in campaign contributions from media corporations. Here it is:

Berman, 2002

Conyers, 2002

Any questions? No, neither have I.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:34 AM on July 19, 2003


Why are so many bills given names that are the opposite of what they do?

Oh right, we're not even pretending this isn't 1984 anymore.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:31 AM on July 19, 2003


um, could I take the blow up my computer option instead?
posted by madamjujujive at 4:33 AM on July 19, 2003


Penalties for such an offense include up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

Penalize this.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:38 AM on July 19, 2003


Well, at least this won't affect y'all outside the Newnited States of 'Murkuh...
posted by alumshubby at 4:51 AM on July 19, 2003


And the Ashcroft brown shirt corps will be certain that you are found out and prosecuted by the FBI should you violate this edict of our government founded of, by, and for the corporations.

Long live the Dear Leader!
Fox News is the true news!
Fundamentalist theocracy is freedom!
posted by nofundy at 5:10 AM on July 19, 2003


For ign'ant folks like myself, congress.org tells you who your representatives are.
posted by skryche at 5:18 AM on July 19, 2003


More draconian laws they can selectively enforce! Yeah, this is real good.
posted by furiousthought at 6:03 AM on July 19, 2003


but shoplifting a CD is still only a misdemeanor, right? right? so let The New File Sharing begin!
posted by dorian at 6:54 AM on July 19, 2003


Wait, I'm confused. The article simply says a file of "copyright content", right? Well, if I write my OWN song, and upload it to a Peer-To-Peer that file is still copyrighted content, isn't it? My OWN copyright. Am I misunderstanding something basic, or is this proposed legislation basically outlawing putting any creative work - including your own - onto a Peer-to-Peer network?
posted by kaemaril at 7:13 AM on July 19, 2003


but shoplifting a CD is still only a misdemeanor, right? right? so let The New File Sharing begin!

Hell yeah!

Can someone pinpoint for me the exact moment at which the market became a moral phenomenon? The ire drawn by file-sharing is fucking bizarre. Maybe every time that technology changes things for consumers, the government can step in and snuff out the progress. I'm glad that we don't have one of those evil interventionist economies. Eeeewww.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 7:55 AM on July 19, 2003


It sure it a good thing government is stepping in to make federal laws protecting out-of-date business models. The buggy-whip companies probably wish they'd had better lobbyists.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:04 AM on July 19, 2003


Yep. Make the average american even more of a criminal. Hey, it worked for the drug war, didn't it?
posted by angry modem at 8:31 AM on July 19, 2003


The buggy-whip companies probably wish they'd had better lobbyists.

Yeah, and it's too bad that the Slavery Industry Association of America couldn't've whooped the cotton gin. But it's all been long irrelevant, ever since the terroristic and unamerican horseless carriage users destroyed our nation's vital stagecoach industry.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:52 AM on July 19, 2003


Despite Eli Whitney's hopes, the cotton gin actually preserved the institution of slavery by making cotton less labor intensive and therefore more profitable.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:10 AM on July 19, 2003


Can we just vote to make music illegal? I certain there's less thuggery in the black market.
posted by skallas at 9:12 AM on July 19, 2003


err, make that "I'm"
posted by skallas at 9:13 AM on July 19, 2003


they'll have to pry my iPod from my cold, dead hands
posted by matteo at 10:05 AM on July 19, 2003


they'll have to pry my iPod from my cold, dead hands

Nah, as small as it is, it'll slide ride out.
posted by eriko at 10:09 AM on July 19, 2003


FTP is a peer-to-peer network. No more uploading of copyrighted material to websites?
posted by fatbobsmith at 10:18 AM on July 19, 2003


While I'm at it, can someone please tell me why the RIAA isn't considered an anti-competitive trust. Is it because the RIAA is an organization and not a company in itself?

Aguably, if all these labels weren't acting in concert, fixing/deciding on pricing, etc a few would break off the the RIAA "party line" and take a risk on MP3s well before the Apple iTunes store opened. I'm starting to think that all the problems the RIAA has can be traced back to the fact that in many ways it acts like a monopoly and tries to immunize itself from normal and healthy market forces.

I also don't see why my tax dollars should be subsidizing this monopoly and its aging non-encrypted CD format. All they have to do is release everything on some strong DRM and casual MP3 trading will more or less cease to exist. Make all the DRM players have no easy way to line-out to analog and watch the casual "mp3 rippers" fade away. Not only that but no more CD to CD copies. Everyone can register their DRM CDs online just like they do software.

That's how you control your product, not through mass lawsuits.
posted by skallas at 10:43 AM on July 19, 2003


Make all the DRM players have no easy way to line-out to analog

Which means that nobody would ever be able to play their music until every device in the house had digital speakers.

And it still wouldn't work because eventually you need an analogue signal to drive the speakers themselves, and it's trivial to tap that. Not everyone would do it, but not everyone has to. Once the rip is out there, it's out there.

Everyone can register their DRM CDs online just like they do software.

If the marketplace has all but eliminated copy protection on $500 software packages meant to be installed on a single workstation, what makes you think that the typically far less technically savvy are going to accept it on $18 CDs meant to be played everywhere?

I liked the first part of your posting though. It's the price-fixing that's most of the problem. And I still haven't seen any credible figures that indicate that file-sharing has hurt music sales (at least in the first world); and rather a lot of information to the contrary.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:56 AM on July 19, 2003


I understand that the last analog hole is the speakers, but DRM is an effective barrier to copyright infringement. The harder it is for casual point-and-clickers to get this material the happier the RIAA should be.

>Once the rip is out there, it's out there.

I would say that's the number one problem, but it will hurt casual rippers and make one point of distribution easier to track for potential prosecution. Not to mention some clever watermarking could make these copies much easier to track than one would assume.

I wouldn't go as far to say that copy-protection is out of style. I'm always putting in registration codes, even on software as cheap as $16 retail. That's cheaper than a lot of CDs.

The problem the RIAA is facing is the same one the software industry faced in the 80s. Registration, copy protection, etc helps a lot. At least its helped enough so that no one decided to mass sue everyone. (Also, the RIAA could be guilty of barratry too)

Personally, I don't buy the $10 a CD will save us argument, though I'm sure it would help a great deal with a lot of the problems the music industry claims to be having. The problem here is one of an unsecure data format.

As I wrote above, the larger problem is that the RIAA acts like a trust. At least Mircosoft got on the registration bandwagon with XP to curb its piracy. The RIAA should take a lesson from the MS playbook and stop eroding privacy and fair use rights over MP3s.

Let's face it. The P2P people won't stop and the RIAA won't stop. DRM would at least make things manageable or the RIAA should let the whole P2P alone if it isn't willing to invest its own money in protecting its own products.
posted by skallas at 11:15 AM on July 19, 2003


And the Ashcroft brown shirt corps will be certain that you are found out and prosecuted by the FBI should you violate this edict of our government founded of, by, and for the corporations.

I know! What a bunch of dirty Republicans, all in bed with those awful corporations.

  • John Conyers (D-Michigan)
  • Howard Derman (D-California)
  • Marty Meehan (D-Masschusetts)
  • Robert Wexler (D-Florida)
  • Anthony Weiner (D-New York)
  • Adam Schiff (D-California)


  • Seriously, where is the outrage? Looks like the "party of the people" is just as much in bed with Corporate Americaâ„¢ as anyone else.
    posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:18 AM on July 19, 2003


    Steve_at_Linnwood, quit trolling. We both know that post does not contain the word "Democrat" or "Republican" in it. In fact it openly calls the government corrupt and last time I checked the government consisted of more than just Republicans.

    Maybe the Aschcroft mention threw you off. John Ashcroft is the Attorney General of the United States. He would be in charge of prosecuting people on the federal level and this is a proposal for a federal law.
    posted by skallas at 11:26 AM on July 19, 2003


    One of us is conflating registration codes with copy protection. Serial numbers are no barrier to piracy.

    I think the RIAA is fighting a battle that it's going to lose. The software industry survives because people want support, documentation, upgrades, and because corporate culture has zero tolerance for software theft. None of these factors apply to mass-market music.

    The old distribution model is doomed, and it's probably just as well. Artists will still make some money from the large number of honest people out there (and it's not as if they're well-compensated by the recording industry now, is it?), and more importantly from live performances. This situation will leave them certainly no worse off than they are now.

    And if the shattering of the old distribution paradigm breaks the back of the millionare record exec monopolists, I'm all for it. Roll on progress! The only people I care about are the artists and technicians, and I don't believe that in the long term this will hurt them. The RIAA already fucks them hard -- I say break its back and then see what happens next.

    P.S. I am not a file-trader and when I like an album I buy it. I don't pirate sofware either.
    posted by George_Spiggott at 11:28 AM on July 19, 2003


    where is the outrage?

    mine is right here, two days cold.
    posted by quonsar at 11:30 AM on July 19, 2003


    skallas, I know the post didn't mention the political affiliation... Riffola wouldn't stoop to that level.

    It just amazes me that when the stupid idea being tore apart just happens to not come from a Republican... then all of a sudden the Chicken Little mentality goes away...

    quonsar: Thank you for being consistent. That is all I ask.
    posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:31 AM on July 19, 2003


    I'm starting to think that all the problems the RIAA has can be traced back to the fact that in many ways it acts like a monopoly and tries to immunize itself from normal and healthy market forces.

    Yes, and there is a nice federal statute already in place against racketeering like this. In fact, since the companies operate in such cartel-like manners, they could probably be charged for RICO violations, provided anyone had the brass cahoneys/financial means to do so. RICO has done wonders against organized crime and illegal drug cartels; it's got strong enough teeth to hold just about any organization, regardless of their bank balance.
    posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:42 AM on July 19, 2003


    > One of us is conflating registration codes with copy protection.

    I guess that all depends on the DRM implementation.

    >The old distribution model is doomed, and it's probably just as well.

    Call me cynical, but people have been saying that since before Napster. If the directv lawsuits have shown us anything its that barratry works and may be profitable in the end. Most of the people sued for buying card readers simply paid the $3,500 asked. This may be a windfall for the RIAA.

    If the RIAA is doomed then where is the proof? Sales have gone down, but its also a recession and their figures also include CD singles. They're just as cohesive as ever and now thanks to deregulation and Clear Channel they are probably in a better spot now than they were five years ago.

    I say let them take their toys and go home with them in the form of DRM and leave the courts out of this.
    posted by skallas at 11:53 AM on July 19, 2003


    I think we agree in principle. Hopefully it will backfire on them, by driving the market to find alternatives: to develop legitimate and legal digital distribution models with low barriers to entry -- effectively routing around the monopolists.

    Think about what happens when a river finds a straighter channel. At first it's a tiny trickle, but it carves itself wider, and pretty soon the old channel is a backwater and the principal flow is through the new channel. I hope that regardless of what way it goes, the technology enables artists to have a more direct relationship with listeners -- particularly financially. And as the RIAA goes, so I suspect will go Clear Channel, because I think they're aspects of the same problem -- somewhere between symbiosis and mutual parasitism. Who knows? One day we may have local radio stations again. But yes, the suits thus far appear to be helping the RIAA to stave off the inevitable. (At least I hope it's inevitable.)
    posted by George_Spiggott at 12:07 PM on July 19, 2003


    I find it amusing that skallas actually seems to think that software copy protection works. It's a joke, and causes more problems for the people who actually buy software legit than it does for those that pirate software.

    Heck, we tried installing an uprade to 3ds max in our lab, and my god was that a pain in the ass. Eventually we had to call it in because the stupid online system just wouldn't work. (And pirated versions install pretty flawlessly).

    Intuit found out just how much people like being treated like a crook when they put their DRM crap in turbotax. I still haven't decided whether I'll purchase their product this fall, even though they've come out and said it won't have the stuff.
    posted by piper28 at 1:21 PM on July 19, 2003


    Dear Senator,
    My name is Peter Brown. I live in a town called Aloha, Oregon. I am 19 years old and I am currently going to school.

    But none of what ive said so far is relevant, in consideration of the Author, Consumer and Computer Owner Protection and Security Act of 2003 that is coming up this wednesday. This bill is clarifying that uploading a single file onto a computer network is a felony, with a fine of up to $250,000 and 5 years in prison.

    Today music albums cost around $18 each. If the artist is very famous, they can expect to see about 15% of that $18. Put in the middleman, and it is still simply unexplainable how the music industry is quick to blame copyright pirates for the current price of Audio Cds.

    As shown on the RIAA's online year end 2002 figures, CD sales have declined this year by 8.9 percent (http://www.riaa.com/news/marketingdata/pdf/year_end_2002.pdf). This fact may be used as a footnote for the passing of this bill. But please notice that Cd sales started declining on 2001, showing that there is a possible link between sales loss and our economic situation, in regards to September 11th.

    I have personally seen friends, family, and colleagues use Peer to Peer networking to transfer music and personal data between each other, and I have noticed that the people I know tend to download single songs and use that song as a decision to buy the entire album. So if Peer to Peer networking continues at its current pace, I foresee the sale of Album singles to continue to decline, as also shown in the year end figures. But this is merely an opinion.

    In helping to consider the ACCOP bill, it is useful to look into what has been done already to reduce piracy in the online arena. Apples Imusic store is currently selling entire albums, for 99 cents each. (http://www.apple.com/music/) This service started in late April, and sold over a million singles in the first week. Although it is Apple proprietary, this technology is becoming a reality for PC users also. This shows that there is a viable alternative to piracy that people are willing to pay for. Also, just an opinion.

    Please consider that this bill is proposing to turn millions of misled people into felons. There are many people who are fed up with the high cost of maintaining a music collection, and if congress can take a more noble approach to conquering this epidemic, we could work together to try something else that works.

    If the ACCOPS bill passes, then history may possibly view this turning point as the online boston tea party. Thank you for your time.
    posted by Keyser Soze at 3:31 PM on July 19, 2003


    change *Albums to *Singles
    posted by Keyser Soze at 3:33 PM on July 19, 2003


    >The bill "clarifies" that uploading a single file of copyright content qualifies as a felony.

    Better not put Linux on Kazaa then! It's copyrighted!

    Don't these people know by now that it doesn't matter what the punishment is, if people want to do something, they'll find a way?

    The majority of our laws work so well because they make sense to people. It's clear that society, as a whole, doesn't think copyright, in its current fashion, makes any sense.

    It needs to be fixed. I propose bringing it back to a time when people followed and respected the law.

    Just my 2 cents.
    posted by shepd at 5:21 PM on July 19, 2003


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