July 23, 2002
7:00 PM   Subscribe

Congress is about to consider an entertainment industry proposal that would authorize copyright holders to disable PCs used for illicit file trading. "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."
posted by mathowie (40 comments total)
This is the most shocking provision of this assault on users' computers:

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
posted by mathowie at 7:00 PM on July 23, 2002

Jeez, whatever happened to the land of the free?
posted by dash_slot- at 7:09 PM on July 23, 2002

I've posted this before, but it's worth posting again:

"There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is supported by neither statue or common law. Neither corporations or individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."

-Robert Heinlein, Life Line, 1939
posted by Argyle at 7:10 PM on July 23, 2002

How to start an uprising, step 1...
posted by BentPenguin at 7:16 PM on July 23, 2002

In other news, a bipartisan coalition of twelve representatives is pushing a bill that will allow shopkeepers to break into your home and tie you up if they suspect you have been shoplifting. It specifies that the shopkeepers should not set fire to your furniture or destroy any of your belongings, but it limits the rights of anyone subject to an intrusion to sue if property is accidentally damaged.
posted by whatnotever at 7:16 PM on July 23, 2002

I am curious - the tone of comments here shows that the majority of you find this bill to be atrocious.

If so, what personally will you do to fight it?
posted by shelleyp at 7:20 PM on July 23, 2002

If so, what personally will you do to fight it?

Writing our representitives is about all we can do (and unfortunately for me, most of California's are in the pocket of Hollywood).

One thing is for certain, this bill seeks to insulate copyright holders that hack users' computers, so you can't fight them directly, and even worse, if someone coded a program to disable or block their attempts, you'd be in violation of the equally stupid DMCA, with jail time a distinct possibility.
posted by mathowie at 7:25 PM on July 23, 2002

These people are such tools. Where the hell is Boucher? I'm sure the ACLU will have a few things to say about this too. I'm embarrassed that these people are elected officials.
posted by anathema at 7:26 PM on July 23, 2002

Are there any lawyers in the house?

What happens if I am file-trading in Australia and the Hollywood Hacker Goons (HHG) come and shut down my computer. Have they just violated international law? Hacking is a computer crime in Australia, no matter who does it (Govt or private entity). Could I bring the HHG up on charges in the International court? In an Australian Court?
posted by Neale at 7:31 PM on July 23, 2002

I see this as a cable box for the computer, I hope someone is working on one of these right now.
posted by bittennails at 7:35 PM on July 23, 2002

If so, what personally will you do to fight it?

Continue to get all my illegal files from Usenet.

DUH! :-)
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:40 PM on July 23, 2002

Well, if this passes it'll give me a good excuse to put up that firewall...
posted by bobo123 at 7:42 PM on July 23, 2002

It's clear. We need to throw the bums out.

Anybody know of any web sites where you can put in your zip code, select whatever political hot button issue trips your trigger (in this case IP/Copyright/Civil Liberties), and find out what your congressional representatives' voting records are?

There must be something like that out there, but I can't seem to find it. I'd really like to know who not to vote for in the next election, but I don't want wade through a bunch of public records to find out.

Yes, my comment is a bid of Deja Vu, but I never really got an answer - maybe there isn't one, but I'm hoping.
posted by willnot at 7:48 PM on July 23, 2002


You're looking for something like this, yes?

Click on state, click on representative of your choice, note bills sorted by category, click on appropriate year, click on bill, view vote for that rep for that bill, praise WolfDaddy and send him money, hallelujah amen
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:00 PM on July 23, 2002

willnot, a Google for "voting records" comes up with... WolfDaddy beat me to it. The data isn't quite as accessible as it could be, but it's decent. You can get to individual votes easily enough, but I'm not sure about seeing it all at once in a custom view.

I'd love to get a crack at their database, though. Oh the queries I would write... This is going in my list of things to look into once I have time. Do you think they would turn down someone who wants to improve their site for free?
posted by whatnotever at 8:03 PM on July 23, 2002

It won't pass. The tech lobby won't let it.
posted by Marquis at 8:05 PM on July 23, 2002

There are so many problems with this idea that I am surprised it is still current enough to be discussed here. Private entities can't enforce the law, blurry distinction between copyright protection and virus propogation or DOS attack, and many other legal snafus.
posted by McBain at 8:23 PM on July 23, 2002

Do you think they would turn down someone who wants to improve their site for free?

Altruism in politics? They won't let you touch their database with a sequoia.

I recommend telling them you're with the Pan-BunnyCake party representing the interests of those people who firmly believe that daily masturbation efficiently manages the feral kitten population.

They'll let you in then with no qualms. :-)
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:25 PM on July 23, 2002

Nice link, Wolfdaddy. Thanks.
posted by keithl at 8:27 PM on July 23, 2002

Go to the EFF to take some organized action and read dissenting opinions.

That being said, install firewalls, learn to write ice, get off windows. Refuse to bow down. Fight the system. All that Abbie Hoffman stuff.
posted by dejah420 at 8:54 PM on July 23, 2002

So I'm fuzzy on my governmental processes, but doesn't this legislation hand over the ability to execute or carry out the laws of the country to a group of people other than the executive branch? Would a law like this be unconstitutional since it would be violating the separation of powers. I know that the separation of powers isn't hard and fast and there is a great deal of overlap between the branches, but this strikes me as the legislative branch allowing the RIAA and other industry groups to be their own police force.
posted by rks404 at 9:08 PM on July 23, 2002

Sounds like a violation of the fourth amendment to me.

"No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session."
-- Mark Twain
posted by homunculus at 9:31 PM on July 23, 2002

Damn. Guess I'll hafta start burglarizing record stores again.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:55 PM on July 23, 2002

What happens if I am file-trading in Australia and ...

What about in other places outside the US (Canada, perhaps)? Would it be possible to somehow obtain an IP address that would indicate a computer being outside US jurisdiction, therefore out of the reach of this legislation. Surely the entertainment industry would not risk the ramifications of trying to enforce this internationally? Is there any way other than an IP address that determines the location of a computer?
posted by dg at 11:33 PM on July 23, 2002

If so, what personally will you do to fight it?

Hack back.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:52 PM on July 23, 2002

//Surely the entertainment industry would not risk the
//ramifications of trying to enforce this internationally?

Why do I get the feeling that if they're allowed to in the States they'll act like they're allowed to everywhere?
posted by Foaf at 12:21 AM on July 24, 2002

Forget it .. this bill isn't going anywhere.

The senate is not going to move on this that quick and like the article mentions, there is only 2 months left in the congressional season. Most of that time will probably be devoted to more urgent matters like passing the budget and setting up the Dept of Homeland Security. Plus, the Senate Judiciary isn't exactly very friendly to the entertainment industry right now ... it wasn't too long ago they were grilling the record execs about Napster and its kin.
posted by ssheth at 1:22 AM on July 24, 2002

I am never buying a cd ever again.
Fuck these people.
posted by dong_resin at 1:40 AM on July 24, 2002

dejah420's link to the EFF action page connects to a discussion of the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA). While this bill is related and dejah420's link to the EFF is relevant and appreciated, the CBDTPA is not the bill this thread is about. The CDNET story mathowie linked to in the initial post provides a link to the same place. But notice the different congressmen mentioned, the date of the EFF page, and the lack of discussion on that page with regard to the notion of companies legally hacking personal computers. In fact, I can't find anything about this bill on the EFF site. Perhaps this is because the news of it is fresh, and they haven't had time to post about it yet? Any other suggestions on immediate courses of action here?
posted by bingo at 1:40 AM on July 24, 2002

If this bill passes then the terrorists have won!

(Did I say that?)
posted by nofundy at 4:58 AM on July 24, 2002

Just yesterday, people here (and on similar sites) were gushing about trotting out to buy the new Rhino 1980's Compilation CD Set and today we're asking how to strike back at the industry. Isn't irony ironic?
posted by RavinDave at 6:40 AM on July 24, 2002

I'm sure the ACLU will have a few things to say about this too.

Ah, the good old ACLU. We rely on them to right so many wrongs, but I wonder... How many of you actually donate to them?

I thought so.
posted by eas98 at 7:05 AM on July 24, 2002

In other news, a bipartisan coalition of twelve representatives is pushing a bill that will allow shopkeepers to break into your home and tie you up if they suspect you have been shoplifting....

Right-on, whatnotever. That's a perfect analogy.

One way to prevent the RIAA's goons from hacking your PC is to make it hack-proof. If you're running a commercial operating system, be sure to keep your virus definitions up-to-date, and turn off unnecessary services. Consider setting up a firewall, or purchasing software to help secure your system. Or better yet, switch to something more secure, like OpenBSD.
posted by Loudmax at 7:10 AM on July 24, 2002

Any commercial outfit that participates in this might as well go ahead and register the the: pleasefuckwithme.com domain right now, cuz crackers everywhere will drop everything and make them them a continual target. My money's on the crackers.
posted by RavinDave at 7:17 AM on July 24, 2002

How many of you actually donate to them?

Yes, Mr. Bush. I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU.
posted by crunchland at 7:18 AM on July 24, 2002

If so, what personally will you do to fight it?

1) Continue running a secure system.

2) Continue developing a better distributed filesharing system.

Fighting this in Congress is useless, as we've seen with the DMCA and CBDPTA (or whatever it's called) - the record companies' voices resonate quite a bit more loudly than ours do. The best strategy, at this point, is to acknowledge that the bad guys own the system, and do our best to make the system irrelevant.
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:35 AM on July 24, 2002

Has anyone found the actual text of the bill yet?
posted by bshort at 7:47 AM on July 24, 2002

Not the yet-to-be introduced bill, but here's a June 25 statement from Rep. Berman about the need to allow copyright holders to become electronic vigilantes.
posted by andrewraff at 10:36 AM on July 24, 2002

here's the bill, via slashdot.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:02 PM on July 25, 2002

welp... me being a file junky and all, I say BRING IT ON! Bottom line, this idea is so ridiculous it is guaranteed to fail. I'd like to watch them try and fail and then see what they have to say.

Hacking user's PCs? Oh the laughter.

1) With a good firewall, up to date virus software and safe downloading practices, it is indeed a stretch to be able to say you can hack a home PC machine without having some inside help like a trojan horse already installed on that machine, one of Microsoft's "update patches", or the P2P software developers having a bug in the software that allows the intrusion, since your firewall will be set to allow connections by that software.
(I'm talking real world here, not some movie/TV show with eleet one liners like "I just popped the firewall dropped down to a command prompt and I was in..." Sorry kids. It doesn't work like that).
The money they'd lose in legal fees would be absurd. The constitutional red flags this raises boggles the mind, and would tie up our courts for a lifetime and a few tax dollars to boot.

2) DoS (denial of service) attacks on the individuals.......

OK I finished laughing... The amount of bandwidth it would take to bring down just a couple thousand (not the millions of actual users) ADSL/Cable users for a long enough time to discourage them from ever filesharing again would probably blow their whole budget for piracy fighting on it's own. Then to make matters worse the ISPs in an effort to keep their customers happy could implement a childishly simple packet filter at the router level and easily drop malicious packets destined for their customers PCs. The end user wouldn't feel a thing. But here's the part that's not funny at all!! Say they figure it out. They've got the budget and the means to DoS anyone who they just decide is a pirate. Putting that kind of load on the internet would definitely affect innocent bystanders, or even take out major sections of the internet entirely.

Try as they may. You just can't get away from the fact that this is simply not a well thought out idea. A decision out of desperation maybe?
posted by filecrave at 8:22 AM on August 18, 2002

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