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Piracy Deterrence and Education Act of 2003
October 7, 2003
Thomas Mennecke
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Today marks the introduction of HR 2517, AKA the "Piracy Deterrence and Education Act of 2003." In a nutshell, the goal of this act is to "To enhance criminal enforcement of the copyright laws, educate the public about the application of copyright law to the Internet, and clarify the authority to seize unauthorized copyrighted works."

Reading the "Findings" section of this bill almost regurgitates the same yarn the RIAA/MPAA have been spouting off to Congress for the last three years. Specifically, it enforces a philosophy the music and movie industry have been trying to force upon the American people. While this message has fallen on mostly deaf ears, it appears the bill's introducers Lamar Smith, John Conyers and Howard Berman (P2Pnet.net refers to him as "Hollywood Howard") have bought this story hook, line and sinker.

Some of the "Findings" section of the bill almost appear to be copied and pasted right from the mouths of Jack Valente (President of the MPAA) and Cary Sherman (President of the RIAA)


  • Trafficking in copyrighted works through...peer-to-peer file trading networks, Internet chat rooms, and newsgroups, threatens lost jobs, lost income for creators, lower tax revenue, and higher prices for honest purchasers.

  • Recent studies reveal that the majority of the users of these systems are unable to tell what files they are sharing and...in fact they were sharing all files on their hard drive.

  • It is also important that the public be educated about the security and privacy risks associated with being connected to an unauthorized peer-to-peer network.



The last point (Finding number 7) uses an interesting word to describe a P2P network: "unauthorized." The last time anyone checked, P2P companies are quite legal, as per an earlier court ruling this year that stated that users, not providers, are responsible for copyright infringement.

In addition, this bill, which has generated some support from P2P United, puts additional responsibilities on the Department of Homeland Security (Bureau of Customs and Border Protection) and the FBI.

This bill would give The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection the authority to seize "infringing materials protected by the copyright laws, with or without registration or recordation." While it appears the former will bear much of the enforcement powers of this bill, the FBI will also be granted impressive powers, as outline in Section 3.

Perhaps the more humorous section of the bill refers to the Education Program, specified under Section 5. In addition to other antic dotes; the bill suggests that the Department of Justice “educate the general public concerning the value of copyrighted works and the effects of the theft of such works on those who create them."

If the government's anti-drug "education" program is any indication of the effectiveness of such campaigns, it’s likely this bill, if passed, would only encourage the Internet community to participate in file-sharing.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Technology News :: Organizations/Initiatives

You can read HR 2517 here.

You can also read P2Pnet.net's take on the issue here.

You can discuss this article here

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