Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., whose district includes part of Hollywood, is preparing a bill that would let copyright owners, such as record labels or movie studios, hack into your computer or effectively disable your Internet connection if you use a file-sharing program. Here’s an article about the legislation now being prepared.
The bill would provide a shield against legal liability for copyright owners who used high-tech attacks to stop file trading. In the announcement of the bill, Berman cited some of the tools that would be protected by the legislation, and which copyright owners have expressed some interested in using. These tactics include:
• interdiction, in which a copyright owner floods a file swapper with false requests so that downloads can’t get through. This would result in your Internet connection being unusable for the duration of the attack. When hackers do this, it’s called a “denial of service” attack and the FBI investigates and tries to put the people responsible for the attack into jail.
• redirection, in which a file swapper might be pointed to a site that doesn’t actually have the files they’re looking for;
• and spoofing, in which a corrupt or otherwise undesirable file masquerades as a song, movie or other file that people are seeking.
Use of some of these tactics might be deemed illegal today under common law, state statutes, or the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Berman said.
You will be relieved to know that the legislation would not give the recording industry permission to damage your computer or spread viruses. At least not in this version. Maybe after another round of campaign contributions has been collected.