Download, retry, fail?

Senator Orrin Hatch is an idiot. (Not to mention that he is a hypocrite). This week, he proposed an idea to end software and media piracy: develop software to destroy the computers of people who have pirated software and/or music. Piracy is a big deal. Piracy is stealing, and it is both illegal and immoral. Both my wife and I work for software companies; anyone who uses our software without a license is hurting our companies and ourselves.

But Hatch’s plan is not the solution. Two wrongs do not make a right. Fortunately, I am confidant that it will be struck down in the courts if it passes. The reason is that it is an irreversible remedy.

As an analogy, many communities have laws that allow the government to seize the car of a ‘john’ who solicits a prostitute. The defendant has the right to trial, and if found innocent, he can get his car back. The government does not destroy the car when arresting him; he would be unable to recover his car if found innocent. The case with a computer is even worse. A car can be replaced, but data are usually irreplacable.

I hope that the Senate is not as stupid as Orrin Hatch. At least we can fall back on the courts.

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