US Senate heavyweight Orrin Hatch launched a blistering attack on peer to peer networks yesterday when he opened a committee hearing on his bill to clamp down on Web-based copyright infringement.
Hatch introduced the bill, S.2560, earlier this month. Hatch also chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held the hearing on the bill yesterday.
The bill aims to confirm that creative artists can sue corporations, ie file sharing networks, that profit by encouraging individuals, especially children and teenagers, to commit illegal or criminal acts of copyright infringement.
In his opening statement at the hearing, Hatch claimed that piracy rings – which call themselves filesharing networks – will create between 12 and 24 billion infringing copies this year alone. He said the architects of these networks stood to make millions while attempting to avoid any personal risk of civil or criminal penalties for copyright infringement.
Hatch accused network operators of playing off the courts and the legislature, in an attempt to freeze any attempt to clamp down on their activities. The bill, clearly, aims to break this impasse.
Hatch’s bill has raised alarm amongst technology vendors who fear they will be penalized for producing copying devices. Hatch said this was not the intent of the bill. He added that the bill was not targeting peer-to-peer technology per se, or non-infringing use.