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RIAA chief calls for copyright filters on PCs

By deception or force if necessary

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When is a virus not a virus? When it's sending your personal data to the Recording Industry Association of America, silly.

Internet advocacy website Public Knowledge has posted a highlight reel from the State of the Net Conference, where RIAA boss Cary Sherman suggests that internet filtering sorely lacks the personal touch of spyware.

While ISP-level filtering dragnets such as those proposed by AT&T have their way of catching the sloppier digital music thieves out there, the technology is more-or-less bypassed by basic file encryption.

That's why Sherman recommends finding a way to install filtering software directly onto people's home PCs.

"One could have a filter on the end-user's computer that would actually eliminate any benefit from encryption. Because if you want to hear it [the music], you would need to decrypt it. At that point the filter could work," said Sherman.

"Why would somebody want to put that on their machine? They wouldn't likely want to do that," mused Sherman.

Why indeed?

"They'd do that when it benefits them such as for viruses and so on and so forth. But that's the sort of thing that could be enforced whether at the modem or something that's put in by an ISP."

Ah, trickery. But perhaps you'll need some rationalization so it doesn't sound like your average run-of-the-mill nefarious spyware.

"I don't think you should underestimate the educational benefit of these kind of things. A lot of this is basically letting people know that what you're doing here is not OK."

Education. Perfect. If history is any judge, we're sure the RIAA's legal department will find a very reasonable and scholarly way of setting a person back on the straight and narrow. Meanwhile the vast majority who don't steal music will be happy knowing the RIAA is scanning every packet of their incoming data in the name of academia.

Catch the highlights here. Or see the full conference here (watching an hour of streaming Real Player video is done at your own risk). ®

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