"If we can find some way to do this without destroying [file-traders’] machines, we’d be interested in hearing about that. If that’s the only way, then I’m all for destroying their machines."
——Sen. Orrin Hatch


Senator Endorses Sabotage of Swappers' Computers, while Shocking New Study Says Burning, Downloading Replacing CD Purchases
Once upon a time, he was a champion of swappers’ rights. Now he wants to mess up their computers.

In one of the more jarring turnarounds of the digital wars, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)—who has been involved in debates over intellectual property and new media for years—has voiced his support for new technology designed to impair illicit downloading, according to an AP report.

He was referring specifically to tools like those made by L.A.-based MediaDefender, which designs tech to obstruct unauthorized file-sharing. Hatch emphasized that copyright holders would need to be indemnified against any damage such technology might cause and has discussed the possibility of Congress creating a loophole in federal anti-hacking laws for that purpose.

"If we can find some way to do this without destroying [file-traders’] machines, we’d be interested in hearing about that," the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said during a hearing on June 17. "If that’s the only way, then I’m all for destroying their machines." He noted that such action "may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights."

Hatch has a stake in the copyright game as a part-time songwriter. He has penned such ditties as "America Rocks," "Portraits of America," "America for Me," "An American Rainbow" and, most tellingly, "The Answer’s Not in Washington." Previously, though, he sang a very different tune on peer-to-peer applications. "The Napster community represents a huge consumer demand for the kind of online music services Napster, rightly or wrongly, has offered and, to date, the major record labels have been unable to satisfy," he speechified in 2001.

Now, however, Hatch has come down in favor of software that, for example, gives unauthorized swappers one or two chances to change their ways before frying up their shit.

"There’s no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws," he says. AP notes that Hatch's new position has raised eyebrows among some of his political colleagues, though Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) voiced his support for anti-swapping tech in 2002.

Meanwhile, a new survey of a people aged 12-44 conducted by Edison Media Research on behalf of R&R puts the blame for declining music sales squarely on illicit burning and downloading.

According to the study, purchases of CDs have declined most dramatically among—get this—the heaviest downloaders. Wait a minute...what ever happened to online music "sampling" spurring more CD sales? Oh yeah, that was one of Napster's 3,478 failed lines of defense.

"Today’s heavy downloader tends to be the same person the record industry has relied on in the past to be the heavy purchaser," gasped Edison VP Jayne Charneski. "These days many in this group are increasingly downloading from file-sharing sites and burning music instead of buying music." The survey says that this population’s music buying has dropped by a terrifying 61%.

Some 48% of these folks, according to the study, say "they no longer have to buy CDs because they could download music for free over the Internet."

Wait until their computers blow up. Then we’ll see how they feel about it. Ha-ha. Hahahaahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!

Anyhoo, there were a few bright spots in the otherwise gloomy report, notably that 50% of respondents wouldn’t download music for free (presumably they mean without authorization) because they feel rights holders should get paid. Charneski credits RIAA "hearts and minds" campaigning and the availability of quality paid downloads via Apple’s iTunes for progress in this area.

Still, the pervasive belief that artists and label people are all incredibly rich underlies the belief that "stealing music" is okay. This may be because 12-44-year-olds watch MTV Cribs.