October 2003 Letter from Senator Hatch

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

Due to my longstanding interest in high-technology issues, I wish you great success in the cross-industry discussions being hosted today by the Distributed Computing Industry Association. I want to extend my best wishes to everyone who is exploring cross-industry discussions aimed at addressing the problems and opportunities posed by peer-to-peer technology on the Internet. I believe that DCIA and other organizations can advance the interests of both consumers and industries by facilitating such discussions.

My position is clear- the piracy and pornography on peer-to-peer filesharing networks are serious problems that must be solved as soon as practicable. The prevalence of piracy and pornography on these networks also create profound obstacles to their use as means of distributing legitimate, mainstream content. These problems are harming our artists, and they have begun to harm consumers too. As a result, these problems also threaten our technology industries as well. For example, I am concerned that peer-to-peer network operators may well one day face extinction-by-litigation unless they do a better job of eliminating the dangers of piracy, pornography and data security or warning consumers about them.

On the other hand, there are legitimate uses of peer-to-peer technology. I don’t believe that we can make this technology go away, but I do believe that we can find ways to make it a much safer and properly licensed means for consumers to access content.

I also believe we can do more to offer consumers safer alternatives and incentives to do the right thing by those who produce and distribute creative works for a living. We need carrots to supplement the sticks provided by the law. A key part of that effort involves the exploration of new business models. Business-model creativity and flexibility is one of the areas in which American innovation has always led the world, and I’m pleased to learn that is your purpose.

I believe the financial interests of many different industry sectors, even those who have been squaring off against each other, may not be so far apart. I suspect that if we can find the right mechanisms, we can make this a win-win proposition for consumers and business. I prefer that those mechanisms be developed in the private sector. But make no mistake: time is running out and lawmakers are already developing legislation to protect the consumers and children who are now being hurt by the risks of filesharing.

I encourage you to work with me in good faith to find alternatives that reconcile your competing interests, encourage legitimate commerce, and protect consumers and children from the dangers of piracy, pornography and inadvertent data-sharing.

Finally, let me conclude by thanking Doug Campbell both for his past service on my staff and for introducing me to Marty and Sari Lafferty and for all of their efforts in planning this important meeting today.


Orrin G. Hatch
United States Senator

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