Congressman Wants To Jail Student Music Downloaders. 

03-23-03 antiGUY
It appears that the RIAA and MPAA have found yet another friend in the federal government of the United States. 

Wired.com reports that during a recent hearing of the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, congressman John Carter (Rep – Tx) said that jailing college students who download copyrighted material would help stop piracy.

This news comes on the heals of a story that we reported on February “Download An MP3, Go To Jail For 3 Years. ” (see story) where we reported that lawmakers and the Justice Department were apparently planning to utilize a little known law called the “No Electronic Theft (NET) Act,” to begin procecuting file traders. That law was passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1997 with very little notice from the media.   But last July, 19 members of Congress wrote a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft urging him to "to prosecute individuals who intentionally allow mass copying from their computer over peer-to-peer networks."  Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif were among the 19 politicians urging the Attorney General to start taking action against online file swappers due to their concern over the "staggering increase in the amount of intellectual property pirated over the Internet through peer-to-peer systems." 

Now according to the Wired.com story congressman John Carter is ready to move forward with plans to jail student file swappers using the law. "What these kids don't realize is that every time they pull up music and movies and make a copy, they are committing a felony under the United States code," Carter said in an interview. "If you were to prosecute someone and give them three years, I think this would act as a deterrent." 

Some university officials don’t like the idea and claim that they have increased their efforts to help stop illegal file swapping on university run networks. 

"I can't see turning millions of college students into criminals," Graham Spanier, president of Pennsylvania State University was quotes as saying in the Wired.com story. "We'd have to build a lot of new prisons to hold the lawbreakers engaged in piracy of copyrighted materials." 

Carter isn’t looking to lock up all student file swappers but believes that arresting a few college students would set an example for other students and as Wired.com reported “go a long way toward bringing home the message that sharing and duplicating copyrighted materials is wrong.” 

"Sometimes it takes the shock value of someone actually being punished," Carter said. "In this particular instance it might also send a message to these kids that are operating on these networks that, 'Hey, I better stop.'" 
Carter, a former Texas district judge, predicts that if a few students were arrested for file swapping then "That information sent out to kids would be a real eye opener. I think you would have a 50 percent falloff, at least, of these people.” 

He adds, "I'm not out to get the kids, I'm out to get their attention." And some headlines, he didn’t add. 

Click here to read the full Wired.com story. 

Would seeing other people prosecuted for file swapping keep you from swapping files yourself? Sound off in the Fan Speak section below.  .