Bill in Congress to Allow Legalized Hacking by Record Companies
by Doug Chick

There is actually a bill in Congress, introduced by a California Democrat, that would permit recording companies and other copyright holders to hack onto networks and peoples computers. Once in, corporate hackers would destroy MP3 files and damage their systems to thwart users looking to download free music. This bill, if made into law, would also protect these companies from lawsuits, provided they limit their damage to computers under somewhere around 200K. Personally speaking, I don't have any MP3's on my systems, but if this bill passes into law I may just have to bait me a few systems just to flush me out some of these big city record company revenuers. 

This bill only speaks of  Media companies being allowed to sabotage Napster style networks to prevent songs, movies and other copyrighted materials from being traded over the Internet. But will it stop there? It never does. What is more likely to happen is passing a bill like this will open up bigger doors, such as; software companies hacking computers on the Internet in search of properly documented licenses, crashing those systems that haven't complied. I imagine it would simply be a matter of adding a port number that if wasn't present during a port scan, this computer would be in direct violation of federal laws. Scanning port numbers would be the only way of detecting for Napster-style networking. Could you imagine the traffic that would be generated on the Internet if corporations were granted permission to scan for copyright violators. Even more, can you imagine the backlash of retaliation from those that were affected by these companies, and I'm not talking about hacking militias seeking justice. I speak of international boycotting. Companies like Sony would not only suffer from record sales being boycotted but from computer and electronics sales. 

What about recording artist?

There is no question that Recording Artist are being financially hurt by having their work freely traded on the Internet. Record companies take so much of these people's profits that the Internet is causing them to work harder for less. But for how long? I do believe that the Internet will do for communication what automobiles have done for transportation. No matter how many laws will be passed, companies and people are and will find different and more efficient ways of using it. Those middlemen that had a lock on pre automobile means of transportation, no matter how many congressmen that they helped become elected, their battle to keep control ultimately never made a single difference. The automobile changed the world, the methods used to build the automobile changed the world, and the Internet is changing the world right now, whether you support it or not. Perhaps the Internet will one day break the same hold that Recording companies have on artist. The Internet can provide a media for their work without the need for Record Companies, executives and all the middlemen that don't have a part in making the music. Through necessity, recording artist will find a way to sell their art on the Internet, and instead of working harder to make less, recording artist can work less and keep more of the proceeds.   

So what will these laws really do? 

Even with such proposed laws passing, it is unlikely that record companies will ever be able to stay ahead of a newer, younger generation of computer sophisticated people. After all, look at the resource that our country uses to fight the war on drugs, it hasn't stopped drug abuse, it only punishes those that get caught. If anything, there are more drug users now than in the seventies. (When it was also against the law.) So will passing laws against Napster type MP3 trading stop such activities. I think it will only help make a better, more efficient way of trading music files.