March 26, 2004 | By Donna Wentworth

Funding the War On File Sharing

You may not agree with the recording industry's litigation campaign against people who use peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. No matter. Under legislation introduced Thursday by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), you'd still have to pay for it.

The legislation in question is the Protecting Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation Act (PIRATE Act). It would allow federal prosecutors to bring civil copyright infringement suits--meaning a lower burden of proof and no need to show that a defendant had knowledge of her wrongdoing and willfully engaged in it.

Two million dollars are earmarked, four U.S. Attorney's offices must set up a "pilot" program, and the Department of Justice is required to file annual reports with the Judiciary committee to identify how many civil actions have been brought.

Okay--so the recording industry rejects voluntary collective licensing, implying that it's a compulsory system and therefore tantamount to the dreaded government solution to a private sector problem. Yet it supports the PIRATE Act--a government solution that would have taxpayers paying for lawsuits, not music.

Says Sharman attorney Phillip Corwin over @ Wired: "It's unfortunate that the entertainment industry devotes so much energy to supporting punitive efforts at the federal and state level, instead of putting energy into licensing their content for P2P distribution so those same people could be turned into customers."

Sure is.

More (reg. req.) from David McGuire @ the Washington Post.


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