Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) was online yesterday in a live chat via Washingtonpost.com to talk about his efforts to rein in the recording industry's legal war against people who share copyrighted material without permission:
- washingtonpost.com: Good morning Senator Coleman, thanks for joining us today. The war over online file swapping has been escalating in recent months, as was made clear a hearing you presided over last month. Having failed in efforts to shut down networks like Kazaa and Morpheus, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has mounted a legal blitz against individuals who trade songs online. The RIAA says the lawsuits are among the few effective tools they have to combat music piracy, but you and others have expressed concern about their tactics. Can you describe your concerns?
Sen. Norm Coleman: Good morning. It's great to be here. I've noted publicly that law and technology in this area seem out of sync. This forum is a great opportunity for policy and technology to be in sync.
First we recognize that file sharing is wrong. It is taking without compensation someone else's property.
But the question is how do you stop what 60 million Americans are already doing? I have three concerns about the RIAA approach.
First, the broad grant of subpoena authority has the potential to sweep in folks who may not have done anything wrong.
Second, the civil penalties in this area, including fines up to $150,000 per song, are clearly excessive. They can be used to intimidate and threaten folks who may or may not have done anything wrong.
Finally, I also have concerns about the impact on personal privacy protection. The technology used by the RIAA and P2P networks has the potential to undermine personal privacy protections.
Bangor, Me.: What's your reaction to the RIAA's latest news that they will send warning letters before dumping lawsuits on suspected file sharers?