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Moses Avalon: Websites may shutdown if P2P becomes a felony

Posted at 24 March 2011 00:00 CET by Justin_Massoud

Long-time recording engineer and producer Moses Avalon has worked with Grammy winners and written books. He currently contributes at several mainstream publications. Considered an expert in his field, Avalon’s knowledge of the inner workings of the music biz is immense. His history as an active industry member during the tumultuous early years of internet music-sharing and current stint as an advocate for artist rights provides him with insight few others could boast.

And according to Avalon, a federal law that makes P2P file sharing a felony would have far-reaching consequences not just for pirates but websites like EFF.org.

Avalon, who is currently engaged in a bit of a feud with tech site TorrentFreak, points out that if the recently-proposed “White Paper” – a series of executive branch-level recommendations concerning intellectual property law (amongst others) enforcement – is acted upon by legislators and P2P file-sharing becomes a felony, sites like TorrentFreak, Wired and SlashDot will be forced to rethink their editorial practices.

“Blogs who play fast and loose with copyright ‘facts’ and assert that P2P is OK because soon the music biz will be dead anyway, are going to get strangely quiet on the subject,” says Avalon.

The music producer goes on to compare what such blogs/sites do with hate-mongering: “These guys are no different in my view than racist blogs inciting gay-bashing, and Antisemitism or ‘Freedom’ blogs that are vestibules for home-grown terrorism.”

According to Avalon, by creating an aura of legality around illegal file-sharing such outlets are essentially aiding and abetting criminals.

“These sites promote an incorrect interpretation of copyright law, thus fostering a lifestyle where readers commit an ongoing crime.  Not only do you start to get the picture of how widely Federal authorities can stretch, but also of the litany of civil lawsuits by parents against these sites for inciting their child to break the law,” writes Avalon. “Coaxing someone to commit a crime is a crime itself. This is why major magazines and newspapers stopped carrying the lucrative advertising for cigarettes: fear of being caught in the web of lawsuits and indictments levied at tobacco companies.”

It’s unclear just how writing and reporting on piracy and industry news is tantamount to criminal solicitation or if – assuming laws are amended – the sites Avalon lists will actually need to “change their tune” as he puts it to avoid litigation.

The “White Paper” itself provides numerous recommendations to enhance current copyright protection. In regard to better arming enforcement agencies tasked with going after suspected lawbreakers, the report offers three suggestions:

  1. Clarify that, in appropriate circumstances, infringement by streaming, or by means of other similar new technology, is a felony;
  2. Authorize DHS, and its component U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to share pre-seizure information about, and samples of, products and devices with rightholders to help DHS to determine whether the products are infringing or the devices are circumvention devices; and
  3. Give law enforcement authority to seek a wiretap for criminal copyright and trademark offenses.

An across-the-board increase in criminal penalties for those guilty of crimes involving copyright infringement is also recommended by the administration.

MyCE reached out to the EFF for  comment as the organization topped Avalon’s list of sites which would be affected by further criminalization of streaming and file-sharing. A message was also sent to Moses Avalon for further explanation concerning his remarks. This post will be updated if either obliges the request.

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