Could Californians who distribute Kazaa/Skype go to jail?

Well, it could happen.A bill introduced into theCalifornia State Senateby State Sen.

Well, it could happen.

A bill introduced into theCalifornia State Senateby State Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles) would hold file-sharing services such as Sharman Networks' Kazaa liable for not taking "reasonable" care that files distributed over such networks are not used for illegal purposes.

Such "illegal purposes," the bill implies, could involve enabling minors to download and view pornographic videos.

What does all this have to do with VoIP? Let me explain.

The bill puts the onus on"any person or entity that sells, offers for sale, advertises, distributes, disseminates, provides, or otherwise makes available peer-to-per file sharing software that enables its user to electronically disseminate commercial recordings or audiovisual works via the Internet or any other digital network."

I'm not an attorney, but here is what this sounds like to me. You may already know that Kazaa 3.0 comes prebundled with Skype. Say this bill becomes law, and you'rea Californian. You post or even e-mail a download link to the .exe (executable) filewhere you can initiate aKazaa/Skype download.

The people you've sent the downlink to download Skype, and don't intend to use Kazaa. Buttheir 11-year-old son logs on tothe familyPC whileMom and Dad are notaround, and--via Kazaa's P2P capability--downloads a porn video.

There's considerable controversy that Kazaa is, to put it mildly, not all that vigilant about what types of files transverse the network. That's the root cause of the unlikely, but hypothetical trouble you could find yourself in if you post or send a link to that Kazaa executable.

Technically speaking, you "distributed" the offending software.Sounds like you could be charged. A mean judge could then, at least in theory, lock you up for a year, fine you $2,500-- or impose both penalties.

I see it now.

"What are you in for?" "Beating my old lady."

"What are you in for?" "Breaking and entering."

"What are you in for?" "Posting a link to a P2P executable."

Sound fair to you? Post a TalkBack.

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