Sydnor Testifies before U.S. House Consumer Protection Subcommittee
WASHINGTON D.C. - Although voluntary self-regulation should always be an option of "first resort", the narrowly-tailored Informed P2P User Act would successfully supplement existing law, explains PFF Senior Fellow Thomas Sydnor in testimony before the U.S. House Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee. Sydnor, who testified at a hearing today on "H.R. 2221, the Data Accountability and Trust Act and H.R. 1319, the Informed P2P User Act," explained that popular programs continue to contain "features" that perpetuate inadvertent file-sharing, illustrating a failure of the voluntary best practices adopted by distributors of peer-to-peer software.
In his testimony, Sydnor, PFF Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for the Study of Digital Property, urged Congress to not rely on continued self-regulation by distributors file-sharing programs because certain companies have repeatedly proven themselves to be untrustworthy. Specifically, Sydnor cited the deployment of a "search wizard" upon a new installation of the LimeWire file-sharing program, which recommends users share all or almost all files in their "My Documents" folders and subfolders. Since first time users of file-sharing programs tend to be teens or preteens, Sydnor concludes the addition of this feature is deliberate and "an intent to deploy a know means of directing absurdly dangerous guidance towards a program's most vulnerable users in order to cause them to share files inadvertently." Since the "search wizard" function was deployed after a Code of Conduct was agreed upon by distributors of file-sharing software, the actions of LimeWire has illustrated self-regulation will not work in this instance.
Sydnor states that, in light of the evidence described, Congress should not rely on further voluntary self-regulation by distributors of certain types of file-sharing software. The Informed P2P User Act compliments existing law "without needlessly burdening legitimate, law-abiding uses" of such technology, Sydnor concludes, "because it narrowly and rather gently targets critical root causes of inadvertent sharing."
Sydnor's written testimony is available on the PFF website. While serving as copyright advisor to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Sydnor was lead author of two empirical studies on the causes of inadvertent file-sharing and previously testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the same topic.
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