Lawmakers Ask Ashcroft To Waste Time On File Traders

from the better-things-to-do-with-their-time dept

It’s amazing how ridiculous many of our elected officials are. Apparently, they sent a letter to John Ashcroft asking him to have the Justice Department go after file traders and prosecute them as federal criminals. This is, perhaps, the most ridiculous waste of federal government time in quite some time. To think that the Justice Department should waste its time on a bunch of kids who want to listen to music.

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Comments on “Lawmakers Ask Ashcroft To Waste Time On File Traders”

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u2604ab says:

It is a violation of law...

Copyright holders are right to be upset about the unauthorized trading of copyrighted materials on the internet. It undermines the economic basis for their industry.

I agreed with you, Mike Masnick, when you argued that shutting down Napster, Audiogalaxy, and attempting to shut down the Gnutella clones was a bad idea. It’s like outlawing photocopiers or tape recorders because they could be used to violate copyright.

But what is a copyright holder to do to settle his/her grievence with online file trading?

I argue: go after the copyright-violators. They’re the ones who are actually breaking the law. It’s a bad idea to disrupt new technologies, but a good idea to enforce existing laws.

That’s where the showdown really needs to occur anyway: Between the people who are pushing the frontiers of copyright (i.e. Kazaa users) and the copyright holders. Sue, deprive and imprison your customers — it’s a great buisness model!

Mike (profile) says:

Re: It is a violation of law...

If the copyright holders themselves want to go after the violators, let them. I think it will prove to be more damaging to the copyright holders themselves… but it’s their decision.

However, my problem with this is having these things be considered a federal crime, worthy of wasting Justice Department resources to go after copyright violators.

Littlew0lf says:

Re: Re: It is a violation of law...

Yeah, spending money tracking down the real terrorists would be far more prudent than tracking down Timmy the (Cyber-terrorist) file trader who can dash the hopes and dreams of “BIG MEDIA” and the multi-million dollar fat-cats who care nothing more about their customers than stealing every last dollar and then claiming their customers are criminals when they cannot spend any more.

u2604ab says:

Re: Re: It is a violation of law...

Copyright is a federal statute, right? Simply the logic that any two file traders (and you need two to tango) typically reside in different states makes this an offense that’s not really addressable at state-level jurisdiction.

It’s criminal to violate copyright. Send in the feds. A few well publicized prosecutions, and then we’ll replace the national debate on when to invade Iraq with a national debate on the justice of copyright. I’d say there’s nothing better for getting this semi-obscure issue out of the backwaters of techdirt and slashdot and into a newspaper that my grandparents read.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: It is a violation of law...

Unfortunately, I doubt that would be a good end result. While it may get the issue in the papers, the entertainment industry and the Justice Department together will spin it in such a way that your grandparents will probably be yelling for the courts to lock up even you, their grandson, for your evil file trading ways…

Tom says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It is a violation of law...

I agree that Justice + RIAA would take the gloves off and spin the issue in a very nasty way, with all of their available resources. They would likely portray themselves as victims of large scale theft. They would, among other things, trot out an artist or two who they claim is directly affected by the theft, and show loss of revenue correlated with the growth of file trading.

Having said that, the ACLU and/or EFF would bring their resources to the table, also. They would, among other things, trot out artists who have been exploited by the RIAA, and show that the RIAA is an oligopoly that reaps rewards from price fixing and arguably collusive behavior. The RIAA suddenly doesn’t look so good in the general public’s eyes.
If well spun, the ACLU / EFF could reduce the issue into a Bad Corporation abusing The Little Guy argument. American politicians right now are scrambling for ways to identify with the little guy and ditch their perceived big business connections. Give them a bandwagon to jump onto.

Right now anti-corporate sentiment in the American population is about as high as I’ve ever seen it. Capitalizing on this sentiment would, in my opinion, be the only way to gain copyright laws tolerable to the Slashdot set. The way to capitalize on this sentiment is to bring the issue to the mainstream public’s attention ASAP.

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