The Record Industry Wants to Take Over Your Computer

  • The Record Industry Wants to Take Over Your Computer
    in a very direct way, in fact. ZDNews reports that the RIAA is exploring methods for jamming up computers running peer-to-peer file sharing software. The tactic involves requesting downloads of files they want to render unavailable, but making sure the connection and download is excrutiatingly slow, so that, in effect, that file becomes unavailable to anyone else for the duration of that download.

    This comes on the heels of revelations that the RIAA tried to get language slipped in to the anti-terrorism bills passed last week which would have allowed the industry to hack into file-swapping computers with impunity, regardless of any damage to the computer or other files. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is looking into the alleged anticompetitive licensing practices of the music industry with regard to distributing music online.

    On the practical side, I think it should not be too difficult to configure a P2P app or reprogram it to reject download requests from extremely slow peers or to disconnect downloads that take far too long, or take too long than one should expect from the connection the peer reports — such as a peer that says it’s a DSL connection but is actually downloading at a glacier 1.5 kbps. A possible beneficial side effect of such a feature would be to encourage peers on the network to only download and share out simultaneously as many files as their bandwidth can realistically handle.

    But the attempt by the RIAA to legalize their own hacking is scary indeed. It really seems more desperate than anything else. What’s next, are they going to make us sign bounty contracts whenever we buy a CD that gives them the right to bust into our homes if they suspect we’ve made a copy using a home stereo burner? Honestly, I can hardly believe how strongly the recording industry is holding onto the anchor of intellectual property control that is rapidly sinking to the bottom. It makes me wonder if all the money spent on lobbying and anti-piracy efforts might be better kept as profits, especially since right now they have effectively blocked themselves from making any money from on-line music distribution.

    Perhaps they’re waiting for the elusive government subsidy that will pay them for distributing no music on-line. And the more music they don’t distribute, the more then get paid. Recording Industry Farm Subsidies! That’s what we need! Then Willie Nelson can play a benefit concert for those poor Sony Music executives…

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