The Washington Post reported today in their Business section that Federal agents have shut down a BitTorrents website that was accused of distributing a digital copy of Revenge of the Sith six hours prior to the film’s commercial release.

You can see the article here.

At the end of the overall article the Post notes that movie studios have been suing owners of servers which uses the BitTorrent technology “help relay digital movie files across online file-sharing networks.” I find this to be a very interesting point. Essentially the movie industry is attacking the technology because it makes it easier to conduct illegal activity by sharing and distributing copyrighted material over the Internet. Now, I don’t condone the distribution and copying of copyrighted material. However, just because a technology makes it easier to engage in criminal activity does not make the technology something to be stamped out. If that was the case then the firearms industry should be held liable for the crimes committed by their products and an auto manufacturer should be held liable when one of their vehicles is used in some fashion in a crime. Both the MPAA and the RIAA should be aware that by targeting the technology and claiming that because it fosters criminal activity therefore it is harmful and should be put out of business could have far lasting repurcussions for other industries as well as themselves. People could sue the MPAA and the RIAA for selling a defective product because their movies and their records respectively have influenced individuals to commit criminal acts. All that needs to happen is for someone to tie a criminal act tightly enough to a movie or a song’s lyrics to meet the statutory requirements. The fact is this situation is more along the lines of “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” You can’t blame the gun for the fact that it was used in a crime. The movie industry (and the RIAA) seem to be making the claim of “Both guns and people kill; guns make it easier.” (The Long FAQ on Liberalism) it still doesn’t make the gun the criminal. In a similar vein, just because a file-sharing technology makes it easier for people to commit copyright violations doesn’t mean that the technology itself or the companies which develop the technology must be squashed. If that we’re the case then companies such as Linksys, DLink, Netgear and others would be responsible for creating products (wireless access points with poor default security) that encouraged people to commit criminal acts (wardriving, unauthorized access to corporate networks). Pushing the culpability onto the technology is just another way of saying that people aren’t responsible for their actions if they’re given the opportunity to commit an illegal act. “The technology made me do it” will become the mantra of the 21st century.

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