June 18, 2003
For Solving the Problem of Theft of Copyrighted Works, Orrin Hatch Suggests...

"If we can find some way to do this without destroying their machines, we'd be interested in hearing about that. If that's the only way, then I'm all for destroying their machines. If you have a few hundred thousand of those, I think people would realize the seriousness of their actions. There's no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws." (from the Washington Post/AP or htm) Sen. Orrin Hatch is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the hearing was Tuesday where he made this statement.

So, would your computer be destroyed without a court order or other due process? Without checking to see that the files were actually a copyright violation and not, say, your own personally ripped mp3s from your own lawfully purchased CDs? Or a file with a similar name as that of a copyright protected work, but one that is not another's copyrighted work at all? Like in the Penn State astronomy and astrophysics department case?

Dana Blankenhorn responds that if technology like this were developed it would get out and any hacker could use it to destroy any computer:

The nature of secrets is they don't stay secret long. The bigger the secret, the faster the discovery.... Orrin Hatch would be unable to compute anymore. Neither, for that matter, would I. Neither would you. That (secret, machine destroying) code would spread, not like a virus, but like spam, and destroy the Internet forever. You can "email" Hatch to suggest that he get a regular email address, as well as consider that his idea is unconstitutional.

Lessig comments that Hatch has been swallowed by extremists.

Donna blogs the Internet Law 2003 conference and links to some of these issues as well as P2P and technical self-help discussions at the conference. The Register weighs in too.

Update 061803: Senator Hatch can be emailed here: senator_hatch@hatch.senate.gov

Update 061803: Hatch's office has issued a statement about this:

"I am very concerned about Internet piracy of personal and copyrighted materials, and I want to find effective solutions to these problems.

"I made my comments at yesterday's hearing because I think that industry is not doing enough to help us find effective ways to stop people from using computers to steal copyrighted, personal or sensitive materials. I do not favor extreme remedies - unless no moderate remedies can be found. I asked the interested industries to help us find those moderate remedies."

Update 061903: See Ed Felten's write up on this issue.

Update 062003: Orrin Hatch, Software Pirate. Apparently, Orrin Hatch's website is using unlicensed software. D'oh!

Posted by Mary Hodder at June 18, 2003 08:01 AM | TrackBack
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