Judge Miriam Hall Patel, who presided over the case that killed off original Napster, proposed a bold plan Monday to reform copyright for the digital age by creating a new public/private organization with authority over the licensing and enforcement of copyright. She is proposing a Soviet Internet where an authority has to approve which software application is authorized and which is not:
* Manufacturers and developers would need approval from this body before introducing an application or device capable of recording, distributing or copying music to consumers. The body would include technology experts to aid in making those decisions quickly — Patel described this as "sort of like the FDA, but much faster."
That last item could be cause for concern. Developers and manufacturers won't cotton to an administrative body deliberating over their feature sets. On the other hand, it sure beats getting sued by the RIAA, as XM Radio found out last year when it tried to sell a portable satellite radio receiver player with a song-saving feature.
Patel wasn't all business on Monday night. In addition to these bold recommendations, she also revealed that during the Napster trial she joined the Napster network under the user name "Ima Judge." The audience also learned that Judge Patel likes to entertain colleagues at judicial conferences with her rendition of "Momma" from the hit musical Chicago.
There is also a dangerous trend towards making software authors responsible for copyright infringements made by their users, Vuze (ex-Azureus) and Sourceforge are being sued in France for "aiding copyright infringement":
A French court decision earlier this month means that a law suit against the open source software hub, SourceForge, and three peer-to-peer sites including Vuze, can go ahead. If anything signals that graduated response and "co-operation" measures represent an attack on the Internet industry, this could be it.
The SPPF was relying on the so-called Vivendi amendment to the French copyright law ( known as the DADVSI. The amendment states that anyone publicly setting up and making available software or other technical means to permit the unauthorised copying of works, could be fined up to 300,000 Euro or sent to prison for 3 years. The SPPF is demanding 16 million Euro in compensation from Vuze, and 3.7 million Euro from Morpheus. The case had been blocked, pending the court decision on jurisdiction. It seems it can now be pursued.
Maybe SPPF should sue the authors of Apache web server? Or maybe Microsoft because the users of word can copy parts of a book into a word processor?
Once the Soviet Union required the registration of all typewriters and printing devices with the authorities.