File this one under the same category in which we spend millions on the impeachment of a president who had an affair, but nada on the guy who sent us to war on (what can at best be described as) faulty intelligence:
On the same day that the Senate looks to be finalizing a law which bars legal repercussions against gun manufacturers for crimes committed using their products, Wired News reports that the very same Senate is now “grilling” P2P providers over their failure to keep pornography out of the hands of children and Hollywood films out of the hands of pirates (Aargh, Matey!).
So let me get all this straight, makers of guns (that can kill people) cannot be held responsible for what happens with their products. However, makers of file sharing/transfer software (that can hurt profits, but not people) can be held responsible for what people do with their products. Am I missing something? How is this argument remotely legally reasonable? Even if I consider the 2nd Amendment, which grants the right to bear arms, I can’t figure how the manufacturers get off the hook for lethal weapons. The 2nd Amendment right has limits, just like all rights. You no more have the right to own a tank than you have the right to shout “fire” in a crowded theater. In this case, the 2nd Amendment doesn’t give any directions for the gun manufacturers to create whatever weapon they desire for the public market. In short, they do not get any more exclusions from negligence and indifference laws than any other industry.
One of the arguments made against Grokster in the Supreme Court’s decision against them was that they appeared to be actively advertising their product as able to infringe on copyrights (via unpaid-for downloads of music not freely given away). So, if someone can find any case of a gun (and/or bullet) manufacturer advertising a product which kills1, then surely they would be liable, right? Not likely.
So this all comes down to who’s spending the money. The gun lobby spends tons to get their stuff in as many hands as possible. The entertainment industry spends just as much to prevent technology from denting their profits (at least, as they perceive it). If you could get guns for free over a P2P network, I would imagine we’d be seeing some different arguments from the gun lobby.