Fears are growing over a proposed bill that could essentially give the record industry the power to use hacker tactics against file-sharing networks.
This week Howard Berman, a representative on the US House Judiciary Committee's intellectual property and internet panel, outlined a proposal to minimise the effects of illegal trading of copyrighted material.
Acting on behalf of the recording industry, Berman said that copyright holders should be allowed to use technologies that may currently be illegal under federal law, to fight pirates.
Although Berman's proposal features techno tricks to block and redirect pirates from accessing copyrighted material, some of his suggestions are thought to be bordering on illegal.
Electronically damaging a user's computer is contrary to the Computer Abuse Act in the US, as well as a myriad of similar laws in other countries.
The news has sparked paranoia throughout the file-sharing community, which is speculating that if the bill is introduced within the next few months, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks could soon be legally under attack from a record industry using hacker tactics such as denial of service and malicious viruses.
However, Berman is reported to have said that copyright owners "should not be allowed to damage the property" of a P2P file sharer, or any of the mediums that are used in the process, such as an ISP's network.
But the companies behind the file-sharing networks, such as Kazaa and Morpheus - which are already being dragged through the courts - have branded the proposals as a call to arms for "copyright vigilantes".
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