Vigilantism unbound: the Berman P2P bill

Saturday 28 September 2002

This story describes the Hollywood love-fest on Capitol Hill over the Berman P2P bill.

It’s bad enough that Congress is holding hearings to which only one side of the issue has been invited, but the hearings are over a bill which would put copyright holders above the law in their attempts to stop theft. Basically, the law says that if you own the copyright on some material, and believe that the copyright is being broken on some network, you are allowed to disrupt that network to prevent the theft, and laws forbidding such disruption don’t apply to you.

Note that due process is thrown out the window: the copyright holder can decide they have been the victim of a crime, and they can choose to take action, and they can break the law. No courts, no judge, no jury. Read what the Electronic Frontier Foundation says about it: Vigilantism Unbound.

Why do people treat the digital world so differently from the analog world? If my car is stolen, I have to obey the law while trying to recover it. Why should the principle be any different if the theft is digital? Would any sane person ever consider a law like this if it were about something other than Hollywood and piracy? It’s outrageous. Write to your congressman.


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