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Capitol Hill lobbyists representing the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) tried to attach a self-serving amendment to recent anti-terror legislation which would have made it legal for copyright owners to hack computer networks in search of copyright-infringing material and destroy them, Wired News reports.

Panic over proposals which would have made all forms of hacking and computer sabotage a 'terrorist act' punishable by life in prison appears to have inspired the entertainment industry to secure itself an exception so it can 'go vigilante' to defend the precious sacrament of copyright.

The proposed amendment reads:

"No action may be brought under this subsection arising out of any impairment of the availability of data, a program, a system or information, resulting from measures taken by an owner of copyright in a work of authorship, or any person authorized by such owner to act on its behalf, that are intended to impede or prevent the infringement of copyright in such work by wire or electronic communication; provided that the use of the work that the owner is intending to impede or prevent is an infringing use."

We note the phrase 'any impairment', a blanket which would indeed sanction network sabotage, and which implies the right to use nefarious means of detection. If it didn't, it would have clearly specified 'action taken on evidence lawfully obtained'. But it doesn't. 'Any impairment' includes installing a Trojan on a file-share network, and then remotely wiping it out.

Fortunately this ignoble effort failed, but the RIAA still inclines towards a presumption that existing law should shield them from such malevolent activities. And if their little bought lapdogs, US Senators Fritz Hollings (Democrat, South Carolina) and Ted Stevens (Republican, Alaska), have their way with a proposed super-DMCA called the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA), they might just make that mad assertion stick. ®

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The Wired report

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