Boucher on Hatch; Microsoft aims at Google
Wednesday, June 18, 2003 by Dave Winer.
These days it's unusual to have two DaveNets in one day, most of the action is on my various websites and weblogs, but today we have two interesting scoops, and it's worth spreading the news a little more broadly than usual.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), previously thought to be a friend of music-on-the-Internet, yesterday called for destroying computers used to distribute music in violation of copyright law. Side-stepping issues of punishment fitting the crime, the Senator possibly isn't aware that such a dragnet would almost certainly snare non-infringing users, and punish them for sharing music that they are legally permitted to share.
For example, if I have an MP3 audio recording of a speech I made and recorded with my own equipment, and publish it on my own server, Mr Hatch's robot might conclude I was a pirate and destroy my recording and possibly my computer. Needless to say this would be wrong.
It's not the first time such an idea has floated in Congress. Last year, US Representative Howard Berman (D-CA) introduced a bill that would have eliminated penalties for damage caused to users' computers when music industry robots erase copyrighted works over the Internet. Such a bill would legalize hacking, usually a prohibited act (along the lines of breaking and entering) for the RIAA and its contractors.
Ed Cone, an enterprising journalist with a weblog, thought to call another Representative, Rick Boucher (D-VA), to find out what he thought of Hatch's idea, and got an on-the-record statement saying it's very unlikely that such legislation would make it through Congress.
Now for scoop number two. Jeremy Zawodny, an engineer at Yahoo, noted a new agent named MSNBot crawling his site. He wrote a speculative weblog post about it, and I pointed from Scripting News. An hour later I got an email from an engineer who had interviewed at Microsoft for a job in the group that wrote and runs MSNBot, which, he says, is an important development.
The entire email is on my weblog. Summary: Microsoft is employing the same strategy re Google that worked so well with Netscape. They offered to buy Google, but were turned down. Search makes $150 million in profit for Microsoft, with a staff of 50, making it one of the most profitable activities for them. Search will be baked into the next version of Windows, codenamed Longhorn.