Hollywood Hacking Bill Hurts Startups, Not Thieves

from the needs-to-be-defeated dept

Hal Plotkin’s latest column is a bit late to the party in bashing the Berman-Coble Hollywood Hacking bill, but makes some interesting points. He says that just the fact that the bill has been introduced (and it doesn’t look likely to pass at this point) has been very harmful for a number of Silicon Valley startups in the P2P space, because VCs won’t touch them. He has a great quote: “It’s as if someone had proposed a law in 1965 to make it legal for anyone to burst into offices and burn IBM punch cards because their use was putting stenographers out of business.” However, I think he’s a little misguided in his arguments. As much as I hate the bill, and as much as I agree that it will harm the tech industry, I don’t think it’s for the same reasons. I don’t really care if VCs won’t invest in certain companies because of this bill. If those VCs really think that the bill would hurt every P2P company, then they don’t deserve to be investing. Furthermore, he gives Hollywood the perfect response: Plotkin says the bill hurts Silicon Valley companies, and Hollywood responds that without it, Hollywood companies are being hurt. The real reason the bill should be stopped is that it’s vigilante justice – letting companies act as judge, jury and jailer against anyone they want with no recourse. It’s unconstitutional and takes away the central belief that people are innocent until proven guilty. That’s a lot stronger argument than complaining that a few startups may get hurt.

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