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P2P Operators Get Warning From US States

By Jay Lyman
Aug 6, 2004 12:05 PM PT

Taking a shot across the bow of the peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing industry, attorneys general from 45 states warned of tough enforcement action against P2P users if companies fail to undertake further reforms.

P2P Operators Get Warning From US States

The concerns were expressed in a letter from the attorneys general to the industry group P2P United, which represents such companies as Kazaa, Morpheus, eDonkey and LimeWire. The letter comes as the latest volley between the attorneys general, who are widely viewed as working on behalf of Hollywood and music industry interests, and the P2P industry, which complains it already has taken steps to address the concerns.

The letter stated that the technology is contributing not only to copyright infringement but also to the dissemination of pornography, including child pornography.

High-Tech Hijacking

"At present, P2P software has too many times been hijacked by those who use it for illegal purposes to which the vast majority of our consumers do not wish to be exposed," the letter said.

The attorneys general went on to warn that they will take action to stop illegal practices by P2P users, just as they have initiated Internet-related actions in the past to deal with unwanted spam and deceptive e-mail.

"Ridiculous," Says Industry Insider

Wayne Rosso, former CEO of Optisoft -- the company that created the Blubster P2P program -- criticized the letter as a product of the movie and music lobbies, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). He also refuted its complaints that P2P is plagued by child porn, viruses and privacy invasions.

"Clearly, it was written again by the MPAA and RIAA," Rosso told TechNewsWorld. "It's beyond ridiculous. I don't think this is going to go anywhere."

Issues Addressed

Rosso said the letter failed to acknowledge praise for P2P providers from both the Federal Trade Commission and General Accounting Office, which commended P2P United for its actions nearly a year ago.

Rosso, who is starting a new P2P company this month, also complained that the letter fails to acknowledge U.S. court findings that have not held P2P software makers responsible for what individuals do with their software.

"They're trying to hold us responsible for people illegally using our software," he said. "It's ridiculous."

Futile Efforts

Yankee Group senior analyst Mike Goodman said the letter from the attorneys general lost credibility by inaccurately implying that filesharing can occur on a computer when it is turned off.

Goodman -- who pointed to the international, billion-dollar business of P2P -- said governments will have minimal success in regulating the industry because it has spread across the globe.

"The reality is you have no ability to control offshore," Goodman told TechNewsWorld. "The attorneys general want things that are just not going to happen."

The analyst went on to ask whether Xerox should be held responsible for photocopies of child porn or if VCR makers are held responsible for the use of their products for child pornography.

"Attorneys general and legislation are all irrelevant because the Internet is an international body," Goodman added.

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