A bill referred to the House Judiciary Committee last week would fatten fines for copyright infringement, going so far as to include intent to distribute. H.R. 3155, introduced by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), doubles many existing penalties and allows separate judgments for individual works. For example: a pirated copy of The Flaming Lips' "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" could elicit 11 fines (one for each song) rather than a single penalty for the compilation.
Chabot's colleagues on the House Oversight Committee focused on "inadvertent" file sharing during a July 24 hearing. Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) called the hearing because of security concerns over sensitive government documents being leaked via P2P networks.
Both the hearing and the IP infringement bill reveal a certain level of hostility toward Internet technology, but moreover, they illustrate just how difficult it is to regulate. The lesson of Napster remains lost on Capitol Hill. Just like Kazaa, LimeWire and Morpheus rose out of the ashes of Napster, so too will multiple technologies appear to replace any popular application choked by the legal system.
- Janko Roettgers offers a round-up here
- Waxman's statement is here
- Larry Greenemeier of Information Week covered the hearing here
- George Ou of ZDNet wondered what government employees were doing with P2P software on federal computers here
- The IP Criminal Enforcement Act is here
- Derek Slater of the Electronic Frontier Foundation objects to the bill here