The RIAA are worried. Worried that someone, somewhere might still not hate them, after they’ve treated music fans and musicians alike with contempt for years. To rectify this, they’re trying to pass a law that would allow them to seize people’s houses (in the USA, at least) if they’re caught with unauthorised music:
I was just alerted that the House of Reps has passed HR 4279, with the lovely name, PRO-IP (Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008). Like the doublespeak PATRIOT Act and Peacekeeper missiles, PRO-IP puts local law enforcement in a position to demand the forfeiture in criminal proceedings of stuff used to violate copyright. Which means that instead of the RIAA simply trying to collect fines, they can also incite local authorities to collect all the computers and related gear that was used to pirate.
If this bill is passed in its present form by the Senate and signed, that means there’s no more pro forma RIAA lawsuit payoffs, because if you wind up settling with the RIAA, you could still lose all your stuff in addition to any fee you paid them.
In fact, you could lose your house even if you haven’t pirated music:
This is particularly irksome in light of the MSN Music shutdown, about which the EFF has written a strong and powerful letter. It is increasingly likely a normal person could have purchased music legally from an online site, burned it to an ordinary audio CD, and in the right set of circumstances be branded a pirate because the original “granting” authority no longer exists to prove that the consumer was a legitimate purchasers.
If this law passes, I’m sure a few well-publicised cases will turn everybody against the RIAA and their increasingly desperate tactics, not just in the USA but in other developed countries. And then the backlash will begin: politicians will find they can’t get re-elected unless they stop sucking up to the RIAA, and they’ll start enacting sensible copyright laws, ones that recognize that the Internet, with it’s ability to instantly, effortlessly copy and transmit information, isn’t going away.