Opening Statement by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA).
House Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property Subcommittee Hearing titled "Piracy Of Intellectual Property On Peer-to-Peer Networks."
Date: September 26, 2002.
Source: Office of Rep. Boucher.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I appreciate the Subcommittee holding a hearing on the matter of music distribution across the Internet, but Iíll have to confess a preference for a different focus than that of this hearing.

There is a need for legislative action in this Committee to facilitate the lawful distribution of music across the Internet in a manner that assumes that all owners of copyright are paid. Mr. Cannon and I have introduced a comprehensive measure, the Music Online Competition Act, each of the elements of which if enacted into law would help achieve that goal.

The Copyright Office has also recommended legislation to help achieve that goal.

The recording industry can achieve that goal if it will simply place entire inventories on the Web for permanent portable downloading at a reasonable price.

There is a recent Jupiter Media Matrix study which shows that 2/3 of the public values the availability of a broad inventory of music, the assured quality of the download, and the ability to keep the music permanently and move it from one player to another in the personal environment, as more important considerations than price.  These 2/3rds of the public would clearly be willing to pay a reasonable price if these other elements of quality, availability, and portability are present.

In my view the recording industry does not need the legislation which the Subcommittee is examining today. It should put entire inventories on the Web for permanent portable download at a reasonable price. Thatís the way to compete with the lower quality free peer-to-peer services.

Turning to the bill at hand, I question at the outset what it is the industry wants to do under the provisions of the bill that it cannot do under current law.

Spoofing is allowed now. Decoys are allowed now. Redirection to legitimate websites is allowed now.  I hope the witnesses will be very specific about what it is that the industry wants to do by way of self help that it canít do at present.  And I have other questions:

What are the implications for the Internetís functionality when the inevitable arms race develops as countermeasures are used to block self help mechanisms? I can imagine that if the recording industry launches what amounts to denial of service attacks against Internet users, that denial of service attacks will then be launched against the industry with broad adverse effects on Internet speed and effectiveness to the disadvantage of Internet users generally.

These are a few of the matters that concern me. I hope these questions will be addressed this morning.