A License to Virus - The RIAA Wants to Hack Your PC.

By Robert Menta- 10/15/01

Here is an article from Wired that is absolutely stunning in its unabashed opportunism. The opportunity? Why the deaths of over 5,000 innocent men, women and children in the World Trade Center tragedy. To be exact an anti-terrorism bill working through congress that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) tried to attach a hideous amendment to for their gain. From the Wired article:


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Look out, music pirates: The recording industry wants the right to hack into your computer and delete your stolen MP3s.

It's no joke. Lobbyists for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) tried to glue this hacking-authorization amendment onto a mammoth anti-terrorism bill that Congress approved last week. An RIAA-drafted amendment according to a draft obtained by Wired News would immunize all copyright holders -- including the movie and e-book industry -- for any data losses caused by their hacking efforts or other computer intrusions "that are reasonably intended to impede or prevent" electronic piracy.

In other words, the record industry is tenaciously using these uneasy times as a catalyst for invading the privacy of individuals to control online music. If this amendment passed, the RIAA could have legally created, say, a virus that infects users machines and destroys all MP3 files on their systems. That is a hell of a dangerous tool to put in the hands of anybody.

For weeks after the tragedy, the record industry cancelled and postponed music events, record debuts, and toned down the normal marketing shrill while a nation grieved. Artists raised money on national television for the victims of the crime, donating all proceeds to the cause. Somehow, all of that is tainted by these heinous back-room politics.

We talk about Osama bin Laden as public enemy number one. Any individual or group that uses the fears coming out of the WTC attack as an opportunity for control and profit are not morally far behind that of a murderer of innocent civilians. You don't have to be a jingoist to realize 21st century carpetbaggers are what the record labels now are and why even that is too good a term for them. Wielding such power, the RIAA would only become terrorists themselves, holding the music and the artists we love as ransom while they probe our hard drives for any other information they might find useful.

Privacy experts are horrified by the amendment. I am disgusted with it. Fortunately, the congress rejected it - in its present form. The RIAA is now working on a revised amendment.

What I still can't figure out is how the music industry fits into an anti-terrorism bill? What's next for the RIAA, sending Anthrax through the mail to all who use Napster Clones?

Read the Wired article here and learn what it takes to be a bad American.

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