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Deep-Six Computers to Sink Net Pirates?

June 18, 2003|Jon Healey | Times Staff Writer

Orrin G. Hatch, a songwriting Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested Tuesday that stealing music and movies online may warrant the death penalty -- for pirates' computers.

His incendiary proposal came at a hearing on security and privacy risks posed by peer-to-peer networks such as Kazaa, which enable an estimated 80 million people to copy files from one another's computers free.

After urging tech firms to come up with ways to stop illegal copying without damaging computers, the Utah senator said Congress may need to let copyright owners take more drastic steps.

"There's no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws," said Hatch, whose inspirational works include "Sweet Gentleness" and "The Answer's Not in Washington." If there is no effective, non-intrusive way to stop pirates, he said, "I'm all for destroying their machines."

Hatch added that "a few hundred thousand" crispy computers would get the message across about the value of copyrights, Associated Press reported.

Randy Saaf of MediaDefender Inc., an anti-piracy company based in Los Angeles, said Hatch's concern about file stealing was widely shared in Washington. But, he added, "I don't think there are too many people actually for destroying people's computers. It just doesn't have to come to that point."

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