Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2002 16:01:11 -0400
From: David Dailey <david.dailey@sru.edu>
To: Multiple recipients of list <cni-copyright@cni.org>
Subject: "Hollywood hacking bill"
Perhaps there has been some discussion of this since the last archives were created at "CNI-COPYRIGHT Forum Archives," so I apologize in advance for insulting any dead horses, visible or not. I am curious about the recent legislation introduced to the US House by representative Berman apparently entitled "LIMITATION ON LIABILITY FOR PROTECTION OF COPYRIGHTED WORKS ON PEER-TO-PEER NETWORKS" and visible at http://www.house.gov/berman/p2p.pdf.
Question 1: Is anyone aware of the current status of this proposed legislation?
 
It authorizes copyright holders to access any machine of any "file-trader" using "peer-to-peer networks" to interfer with unauthorized copies, and, barring a few exceptions, protects the copyright holder from liability arising for such intrusion.  My naive reading (IANAL) of the definitions of the above-quoted terms in the legislation leads me to think this would include all computers on any network including the Internet whether they are serving files or not.
 
The copyright holder has to tell the Justice Department what methods it may use in these disruptions (I don't gather that the Justice department has to approve or publicly disclose the methods), and provides some recourse to the end-user should her computer be wrongfully caused more than $250 damage by the intruder.
 
The bill has had some discussion on the 'Net, as a search for the query ("berman bill" copyright) on Google reveals. Some there have labeled it the "Hollywood hacking bill." Others might view it as a "declaration of hacking war" between various segments of the networked community.
 
Question 2: Does it work both ways? A non-infringing end-user of networks, "A", happens, incidentally, to be a copyright holder (quelle surprise!!). A believes that another copyright holder "B" may have (while performing an invasion of A's computer, as sanctioned by the house bill) made unauthorized copies or derivative works of her files or filenames (the aggregate collection of which would, it seems, qualify as a protected expression). Is she not then authorized to invade B's computers to snoop and thence interfere with any potentially infringing files or processes that B has collected or spawned?
 
It seems relatively straightforward, then that "C", an infringer, will simply take any material M that he has wrongfully copied from B, and merge into it, through a wee bit of encryption, a copy of some material, N, he owns that is worth more than $250, thus creating a file P=e(M+N). B suspects that an unauthorized work belonging to B is on C's computer. B's little eavesdropper (costing only $200 from Virile Viral Enterprises), is delivered surreptitiously through a Department-of-Justice-approved-virus, but has just enough horsepower to detect that P probably contains traces of M. Therefore, B copies P to B's computer, decodes it into M+N, and then returns to C's computer and destroys P. C detects the intrusion and knowing of B's unauthorized copy of copyrighted N, enters B's computers and disrupts those machines and destroys the eavesdropper. C then litigates against B for the damages to N.
 
The legislation sounds like great fun for someone! Poor Hollywood.

David Dailey 

A collection of random postings to cni-copyright during the years 1994-2004. Humor and dread.