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Location: California, United States

I am a neolibertarian minded individual who feels that freedom and individual rights take precedence over the wants of government. I believe government exists to serve the people and not to protect us from ourselves. I am an advocate for private firearms ownership, smaller government, reduced taxes and freedom to live your life however you choose, providing you do not directly hurt others.

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Sunday, December 12, 2004

Who Should We Blame?

The title link is to a story about the U.S. Supreme court agreeing to decide who is responsible for internet piracy. Major media giants such as Disney, MGM, Time Warner and others want to stick it to the companies that create peer to peer file sharing technology. I very much hope that the Supreme Court does not set a devastating precedent of blaming the file sharing companies for how some people choose to illegally use their software. As far as I'm concerned, the Supreme Court will be deciding if individuals are really responsible for their own actions or if it will be open season on corporations who are unfortunate enough to have some of their consumers act in a criminal manner.

Creators and vendors of file sharing technology in my opinion are doing nothing wrong. Their products are a valid and legal way to freely share non-copyrighted digital files. They do not tell people to infringe on copyrights and they usually package their products with a warning not to violate copyright law. Making them liable for the illegal use of their products is equivalent to making Ford liable for a bank robbery if the robbers use a Ford as their getaway vehicle. A better analogy would be to blame Sony and other companies for selling VCR's, CD Burners and cassette recorders. This same type of thing is tried every year or so when some greedy vicitim wants to collect money from a firearms manufacturer because one of their products was used illegally by a criminal.

Take the following hypothetical example:
Person A gets drunk and smashes Person B's car with a hammer. Is it really ok for Person B to sue the alcohol distillery, the distributor, the bottling plant, the bar that sold person A the drinks and the people who made the hammer? Where would it end? Can Person A also sue everyone involved in making and selling the alcohol that got them drunk and "caused" their lapse of judgment? Would it be proper for Person A to also sue the hammer company because the hammer didn't come with a warning label telling people not to use the hammer after consuming alcoholic beverages?

There are far too many of these cases where people want to hold companies responsible for the criminal actions of individuals. This is wrong and sends a terrible message to society. Go after those who willfully break the law and not those who create and sell products to better our lives and employ our friends and families.

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