Does H.R. 5211 require P2P users to suffer more than $250 in damages before they can sue a copyright owner for hacking, wrongfully stopping file-trading, or otherwise damaging their computers?
No. An affected P2P user can sue a copyright owner in such circumstances under a wide variety of statutes and legal theories which have different monetary thresholds. H.R. 5211 does not alter these remedies or create a $250 threshold for using them. H.R. 5211 does create a brand-new cause of action, in addition to all previous causes of action, that contains a $250 threshold, but the creation of this new cause of action does not affect a P2P user's ability to also access other, pre-existing remedies.
Will H.R. 5211 allow copyright owners to "bring down" P2P networks?
No. H.R. 5211 is quite clear that it only immunizes the blocking of copyright infringement on P2P networks. A copyright owner would remain fully liable for any action that "brings down" or otherwise disrupts P2P networks, even though such disruptions were the unintended consequence of stopping infringements. It is critical to remember that H.R. 5211 does not create some new, affirmative right for copyright owners, but only provides them with a limited safe harbor from potential liability under other laws. As such, H.R. 5211 only limits a copyright owner's liability for the activities specified in the legislation, and cannot be read to limit liability for activities not specified therein. Attempts by piracy profiteers to read the bill more broadly are akin to saying that H.R. 5211
would allow a copyright owner to burn down a P2P user's house if such arson had the effect of disrupting file trading.
Will H.R. 5211 allow copyright owners to violate the privacy of P2P users?
No. Nothing in the bill implicates the privacy of P2P users, and in fact, the bill may enhance privacy. A P2P user has no expectation of privacy in computer files that he has chosen to publicly download from, or distribute to, 100 million other P2P users. H.R. 5211 only allows copyright owners to view these files to the same extent as all other 150 million P2P users have such an ability, thus, the bill does not violate a P2P user's privacy. Furthermore, H.R. 5211 does not give copyright owners any ability to determine "who" a P2P infringer is. Rather, a copyright owner, like every other P2P user, simply knows "where" - at which IP address - their copyrighted work is located.
In fact, the types of technological self-help measures encouraged by H.R. 5211 will prove less invasive of privacy than the other option - lawsuits against individual infringers. The use of technological self-help measures only reveals the IP address of a file on a P2P network, but does not reveal the identity of the distributor or downloader of that file. Lawsuits, on the other hand, necessitate the public identification of a P2P infringer, and will usually involve the entry into public court documents of many private files, data, photographs, and other correspondence found on the infringer's computer.