California Senator Wants To Throw Ed Felten In Jail

from the sorry-Professor-Felten dept

While the headline might seem a bit extreme, it seems accurate. A California state Senator with ties to Hollywood has introduced a law that could mean jailtime for any developer of a file sharing application. That’s right — it’s not about anyone who actually used the app to do something illegal, but whoever develops an application. This, despite the fact that courts have found repeatedly that you can’t blame the application for the fact that some people misuse it. So why is Professor Ed Felten at risk? Well, he recently wrote a file sharing application in all of 15 lines of code. The purpose, of course, was to show that the concept of regulating file sharing by banning the creation of such applications was ridiculous and anti-innovation. By the way, if you’re wondering where you’ve heard of State Senator Kevin Murray before, he’s the politician who also made it illegal to send any media file in California anonymously. Despite the questionable basis for such a law (and the fact that it probably violates other laws concerning privacy — especially with respect to children), it appears that Murray doesn’t really care about the facts of the situation, but just that folks in the entertainment industry are happy with all the laws he’s passed in their favor. Anyway, based on my reading of the actual proposal, it would also threaten to put anyone who has written FTP software and possibly even web browsers in jail. Maybe his next law will simply outlaw the internet, and force us all to watch broadcast content instead. That would really help, wouldn’t it?

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Comments on “California Senator Wants To Throw Ed Felten In Jail”

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Brian Shock (profile) says:

Look at the bigger picture

Perhaps we should applaud this trend in legislation. If creators and manufacturers of software tools can face legal penalties when someone misuses their products, perhaps that will open the door to legal penalties for creators and manufacturers of misused hardware.

Someone is shot by a handgun? Jail the handgun manufacturers. Someone dies from lung cancer? Jail the cigarette manufacturers. The tv evening news uncritically broadcasts presidential lies that lead to the death of hundreds of thousands? Jail tv executives as well.

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