Clueless Senator and his Virus Proposal

by Eric M. Burke

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I read this article on today where Senator Orrin Hatch proposes a radical idea: trash your PC if you download music illegally more than two times.

I'm generally more interested in writing about programming, but this is such a stupid idea that I could not resist mentioning the article.

I do not endorse stealing copyrighted material. I support fair use - if I purchase a song or movie I should be able to play it on any device I own and make backup copies. I should not be able to illegally distribute the media to other people. Surely we can solve this problem without resorting to government-sanctioned viruses that destroy your computer!

Here is a quote from the article:

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

Here's an idea Senator Hatch might be interested in. After someone speeds in your car three times, blow up your car. It doesn't matter if you, your spouse, a friend, or your child was driving. Just blow the damn thing up so you learn your lesson about speeding.

Does anybody think Hatch's idea is good?


2003-06-19 06:22:57
But isn't this typical?
It seems that culturally we've become programmed to this whole quick-fix mentality that does nothing to address the root of the problem - namely, that people don't feel that their behavior is wrong (whether or not it is), that the perceived value of products that can be distributed electronically is nada (why buy it when I can get it for free mentality), and that dictating what people can and can't do with equipment that they purchased does nothing but create resentment (and, eventually, workarounds are created that open doors for illegitimate use). I think the problem everyone misses is that the software/music/product publishers aren't meeting the needs of the consumers. Give them a sample, let them try things, tier the pricing structure to accomodate different usages, and above all, don't treat everyone like a criminal. People usually like to do the right thing, but when you treat them like thieves more often than not you create a self-fulfilling prophecy...
And it is totally ridiculous for some senator to think that they have a clue about this industry!
2003-06-19 11:29:00
Self policing could solve problem
It seems that a simple solution would be to for each label to flood the gnutella "ether" with garbage. If I was an artist upset about this (Madonna actually did something like this..), I would hire a software savvy college kid to make an entire collection of MP3's matching my discography. The ID3 tags would be correct, but the audio would contain noise, or (as Madonna actually did -- a lecture on piracy). I would then put up "5 star" servers to feed the garbage MP3's to the Kazaa kiddies and frustrate them into oblivion. I could do this for a few hundred dollars a month (each month inserting new files with slightly different signatures to avoid "smart" gnutella clients which might identify the trojan horse MP3's..

On the other hand, wouldn't it be great if an ISP would charge on usage? For example, I have $32.95/mth broadband, but only use it about once a week to download a few large files here and there. These kids downloading 10GB every hour while they sleep should pay more (or I should pay less)? I guess the ISP's don't work this way for a reason -- same reason I don't tell my pizza joint how to do their business..

2003-06-20 04:24:54
Root of the problem somewhere else as well ?
Sometimes I feel the whole thing is working like the old German Democratic Republic:
If the people don't like the decisions of the leaders: Break their will and make them obey.
Not just a little nineteen-eighty-four-esque I would say.

How about a radical different approach (which I have to admit is not of my own):

Add Value to the legal stuff!
All the years of CFOs trying to reduce cost and cut nice and fancy booklets and CD covers down to a 4 color one pager and the regular CD covers have turned most CDs into an uninteresting mass market item.

Now, if what you buy doesn't give you any more than what you get when you download the stuff, a lot of people are going to think: Why bother ?

I have seen some very fancy artwork done in booklets, but a lot of the mainstreamers do not think they need that for success. They might be wrong.

So my bottom line: RIAA, make your products worth buying !

Certainly this is not the final solution to all problems, but definetly a step in the right direction.

2003-06-20 04:51:36
Senator Orrin Violates Copyright?
Here's an interesting article:,1283,59305,00.html

2003-08-22 13:53:16
But isn't this typical?
We live in an era with Enron type corporations thinking they can get everything for free, maybe the little guys want some of the goodies too. Why should the consumer be more moral than the seller?