March 24, 2018

Berman Bill May Not Return

According to an article by Jon Healey in Friday’s Los Angeles Times, Rep. Howard Berman may not reintroduce his “peer-to-peer hacking” bill in the new Congress. The bill, you may recall, would authorize copyright owners to launch some types of targeted denial of service attacks against people who are offering infringing files via peer-to-peer systems like Kazaa, Gnutella, or the Web.

Berman had introduced the bill in the last Congress, but it died in committee. He had planned to reintroduce it, but is rethinking that after Hollywood expressed reservations about the bill.

This week, however, Berman said he may not revive the measure. For one thing, copyright holders may not need extra protection to combat file-sharing piracy, he said. And though Berman wasn’t deterred by complaints from consumer advocates, the concerns voiced by Hollywood studios – among the biggest beneficiaries of the bill, given their active anti-piracy efforts online – suggested that Berman was climbing out on a limb by himself.

In particular, Hollywood’s enthusiasm for the bill was dimmed by Berman’s insistence on imposing new liabilities on copyright holders that go too far in attacking pirates. “And if they’re not for it,” Berman asked, “where am I going?”