When it rains, it pours. There’s a number of important events taking place this week:
MPAA has been in the business of issuing warning emails for quite some time (a few of you have told me about receiving them), but now they’re going to up the ante, following the same formula as the RIAA.
Speaking of RIAA, they’ve been methodically suing a few hundred at a time, with the cumulative total well in excess of 5,000.
You may very well say, “They won’t catch me,” but the odds on a P2per getting sued by the RIAA in the U.S. are roughly about the same as getting murdered in the same. Not going to pretend getting caught is inevitable; the odds work out to about 5,000:1, but odds don’t matter much when you’re the 1.
Another matter that ought to concern the average P2Per is that if you get caught, you’re pretty much on your own. The attitude of the P2P community appears to be, “Ha, ha, we don’t care, we’re ignoring the RIAA.” However, they also appear to be ignoring the sued just as well as they ignore the suers. There doesn’t seem to currently be any kind of legal defense fund (this place had one, but gave it up, and in any event, they only covered a small fraction of the legal costs for the handful )
If you think organization like the Electronic Freedom Foundation will defend you, wrong. They want Joe Sixpack contributions, but they don’t defend Joe Sixpacks in court. All you’ll get from them (or related organizations) is a list of attorneys you can pay to defend you.
In other words, they make lots of noise and do file class action-like suits and legal arguments, but when it becomes personal, you take all the risk.
I don’t doubt most P2Pers reading this will pay this any mind; they think they’ll never get caught, just like those 5,000. However, yet another group of enforcers will be coming on the scene shortly, a group that for many P2Pers is infinitely more powerful than the MPAA or RIAA or even the U.S. government.
They’re called Mom and Dad.
Terminators One and Two
Besides suing you, the MPAA also wants to enlist Mom and Dad in the fight against illegal copying, so they also announced that they will shortly come up with software that will identify P2P programs and their offspring, and offer to remove them.
The key word here is “offer.” Others who have commented on this have questioned how such a program could distinguish a legal from an illegal MP3. This is barking up the wrong tree. The MPAA program probably can’t, and I’d bet doesn’t even try to.
Rather, it identifies anything and everything that could be illegal, and lets the user decide to get rid of some or all of what is found.
Obviously, only the extraordinarily masochistic P2Per will ever use the program. The target user is the P2Per’s parents, who will be given an easy way to clean out all of Junior’s (or Junioress’) handiwork. They’ll use this program, and 99% of the time, clean out everything, legal or not. What’s Junior or Junioress going to do, sue Mom and Dad?
This will have far more impact (though probably still not a whole lot) than any MPAA lawsuits.
Making A Federal Case Out of It
Just so as to not miss out on the fun, a few enterprising souls over at the Senate Judiciary Committee have taken a number of the provisions from less controversial anti-piracy bills that have been floating around the past year, put them together with some unrelated, uncontroversial items, and come up with this.
We will go over this bill very carefully over the weekend for two reasons:
For now, what is most noteworthy is what is not in the bill. There’s no trace of the INDUCE Act, which was too much even for us, which means the hardware heavyweights won’t be opposing it.
Nonetheless, it does have a few nasty little provisions in it which could certainly ruin your day, and month, and year (or a few) sooner, and some threats of really deadly stuff later.
Again, more on this over the weekend.