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Senator Hatch, thug 4 life

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Senate Judiciary chairman Orrin Hatch apparently thinks we should let the entertainment industry engage in wanton thuggishness to enforce their militant and a-historic interpretations of copyright law.

From the Washington Post:

During a discussion on methods to frustrate computer users who illegally exchange music and movie files over the Internet, Hatch asked technology executives about ways to damage computers involved in such file trading. Legal experts have said any such attack would violate federal anti-hacking laws.

“No one is interested in destroying anyone’s computer,” replied Randy Saaf of MediaDefender Inc., a secretive Los Angeles company that builds technology to disrupt music downloads. One technique deliberately downloads pirated material very slowly so other users can’t.

“I’m interested,” Hatch interrupted. He said damaging someone’s computer “may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights.”

The senator acknowledged Congress would have to enact an exemption for copyright owners from liability for damaging computers. He endorsed technology that would twice warn a computer user about illegal online behavior, “then destroy their computer.”

“If we can find some way to do this without destroying their machines, we’d be interested in hearing about that,” Hatch said. “If that’s the only way, then I’m all for destroying their machines. If you have a few hundred thousand of those, I think people would realize” the seriousness of their actions, he said.

“There’s no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws,” Hatch said.

Yet if someone, say, burned down the senator’s house to teach him about respecting property rights, they’d make it out like THEY were the asshole.

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  • What really annoys me about lobbyists and legislators on copyright is when they treat copyright as property law.

    Copyright is not about property rights. It is about the limited time exploitation of an expression of an idea before reverting to the public domain.

  • I don’t know, Jim, the phrases “intellectual property rights” is pretty similar to “property rights.” In fact, grammatically speaking, the one is obviously a subset of the other. As I like to explain, intellectual property rights are just like physical property rights, except where they aren’t. 🙂

    Regarding Hatch, I hope he sincerely regrets shooting of his foolihs mouth without engaging his brain and that he apologized deeply and from the heart. But I’m not holding my breath. Like anybody else in power, his main goal is to exercise that power, and maybe to get a little more, too.

    Ever notice a similarity between politicians and weekly columnists? They both like to say controversial things to generate attention and rarely follow those statements up in the future.

  • I like the “thug 4 life” Tupac reference.