Wednesday, September 17, 2003


The RIAA is going to have a bad week.

Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) now gets it. He's paying attention to Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) campaign of suing 12 yr-old girls and 71 yr-old grandpas and he doesn't like it ... not one bit.

Joining Senator Norm Coleman (R - Minnesota) in his concern about the RIAAs ability wage a legal war against citizens ignorant of their rights, Senator Brownback introduced legislation Tuesday that would require the RIAA, or anyone else for that matter, to file a "John Doe lawsuit" to obtain any information on suspected file sharers, instead of having blanket subpoena powers via a court clerk's signature.

Designed to provide some sort of regulative oversight, the legislation will give any accussed or suspected file sharer their rights back.

"This will provide immediate privacy protections to Internet subscribers by forcing their accusers to appear publicly in a court of law, where those with illicit intentions will not tread, and provides the accused with due process required to properly defend themselves."

As written, The Digital Millennium Copyright Act permits copyright holders to subpoena an Internet service provider for the name and address of a person they believe is violating a copyright. The one-page subpoena request doesn't even require a judge's signature.

The bill will also require some sort of label identifying media as protected by digital rights management and warning consumers that the product they're buying is protected by certain safeguards which may cause customers trouble playing the purchase on their computers. Plus, music lovers have been unable to convert these music files to MP3s.

Sen. Brownback also chaired a full Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on Digital Rights Management today.

“Our first panel will discuss the merits of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s information subpoena, included in section 512(h) of the Act. Recently a federal court has held that copyright owners may use the subpoena to compel Internet service providers to disclose to them the names, addresses, and phone numbers of their subscribers suspected of piracy. This occurs when an ISP’s service acts as a “conduit”, or the transport, over which the subscriber sends and receives data. This subpoena process includes no due process for the accused ISP subscribers.

“I support strong protections of intellectual property, and I will stand on my record in support of property rights against any challenge. But I cannot in good conscience support any tool such as the DMCA information subpoena that can be used by pornographers, and potentially even more distasteful actors, to collect the identifying information of Americans, especially our children."

The legislation and the hearing of the committee, coupled with Senator Coleman's investigation in the RIAAs tactics and his promise of hearings means a very bad fall for the RIAA and reminds E-R of the famous words of Admiral Yamamoto after attacking Pearl Harbour:

"I fear that we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve".


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