Nov 21 2003

U.S. Senators Call on File-Sharing Companies to Change Their Ways

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has written peer-to-peer network company executives calling on them to adhere to copyright laws and cease the distribution of pornography, especially child pornography, over their networks. The letter, circulated by Graham was also signed by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Gordon Smith (R-Oregon), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Barbara Boxer (D-California), and sent to executives of Grokster, Bearshare, Blubster, eDonkey2000, LimeWire, and Streamcast Networks. “Purveyors of peer-to-peer technology have legal and moral obligation to conform to copyright laws, and end the pornographic trade over these networks,” said Graham. “These programs expose our children to sexually explicit materials and provide an anonymous venue for child pornographers to hide behind the vale of technology.” The letter states, “recent studies by the General Accounting Office and Palisades Systems, a respected technology company, clearly demonstrate that your software currently is being used almost exclusively as a means of illegally trading copyrighted material and distributing pornography, including child pornography. For example, the Palisades report concluded that 97 percent of all the material available on file-sharing services was either copyrighted or pornography; 99 percent of audio files requested on file-sharing services were copyrighted; and 42 percent of all requests on file-sharing services were for adult or child pornography.” The six Senators suggest three specific courses of action to end illegal distribution of materials and protect children from exposure to graphic content:
  1. Provide a Clear, Conspicuous, and Meaningful Notice & Warning to Users about the Legal Risks of Using P2P Software
  2. Incorporate Effective Copyright and Pornography Filters
  3. Change the “Sharing” Default Setting- P2P software is designed so that every copyrighted file users download is automatically distributed to everyone else on the network. So the only way to avoid being a forced distributor, and thereby avoid being subject to a copyright infringement lawsuit for “sharing”, is to change the default settings that come with the software.
“We strongly believe that voluntarily taking these three common-sense steps would go a long way toward educating and protecting consumers,” wrote the group. “It also would clearly indicate your company’s desire to become responsible corporate citizens.” ####