By Peter Swire, 7/27/2003
THE BATTLE is heating up between the recording industry and those who
download copies of their favorite music. the Recording Industry
Association of America is bringing hundreds of lawsuits nationwide
against home users of peer-to-peer (P2P) software, including students
at Boston College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah recently used a Senate hearing
to suggest that copyright owners should be able to warn home users
once or twice, and then actually destroy the computers if the
apparently infringing songs were not removed.
Overlooked in the heated rhetoric has been a victim of the RIAA's
campaign -- the privacy of all those who surf the Internet or send
e-mail. On the RIAA view, your sensitive personal information on the
Web would be available to anyone who can fill out a one-page form.
Congress can and should step in to fix this problem immediately.
The problem began in late 2002, when the RIAA demanded that Verizon
Online, an Internet service provider, identify one of its customers
based on an accusation that the person may have violated copyright
laws by swapping files.
Verizon declined, citing the threats to customer privacy, due process,
and the First Amendment. Was Verizon overreacting? No.