Could the government really destroy downloaders computers?

No, a better analogy would be, they find stolen stuff in your house, and then burn down your house.

Better: manhattan finds a political debate in a GQ thread, and closes the thread.


Yes, it would CURRENTLY be illegal. More than any misunderstanding of technology on the part of Hatch (which is being overstated here[sup]1[/sup]), this is disturbing:

This sort of thing is supposed to be within his area of competency as a legislator, and he should be able to see that suspending the law to allow retaliatory, not just defensive, measures in protection of property rights is a BAD idea. Even if “damage” simply means screwing up the filesystem [sup]2[/sup].

Hatch is a published songwriter, and his objectivity in this area is probably questionable.

We are tending towards GD here.

[sup]1[/sup] - the “destruction” remarks appear to be attached to hearing testimony from the head of MediaDefender, Inc, who said “No one is interested in destroying anybody’s computer.”. Hatch said he WOULD be, if that’s what it took. MediaDefender, BTW, is a company, surrently in “stealth mode”, that is working on policing the P2P space to protect the interests of copyright holders. Currently, it seems that they are doing things like proliferating bogus copies to frustrate downloaders and performing request flood attacks on machines they identify as having copies of their client’s copyrighted material.

[sup]2[/sup] - to the average person on the street, a messed up filesystem or OS may be a “damaged computer”, in spite of the fact that no hardware damage is involved. It no longer functions, and may be beyond their competency to fix. “The damned thing’s broke” is a reasonable assessment at that level.

If they wreck your computer or delete other files, you’re right. However, if they erase just the pirated MP3’s on the computer, my analogy stands.

There would be some legal justification for deleting illegal material. Damaging the computer, however, would be unconstitutional.

No no no, the best analogy would be manhattan closes the thread, finds out where you live and comes by to administer a beating while chanting SDMB rules and regs.

Of course the thread was talking about destroying your computer.

Even deleting files remotely would be easy to block. And of course how do you prove it’s all stolen?

How many folk woud buy a computer they knew was capable of being damaged in this way ?

It’d kill the computor trade dead, everyone would stick to their old machines, and their old software, we would probably not need technical help lines as stuff aged and slowly became better developed, even Microsoft might find time to take bugs out of their OS instead of writign new OS’s.

Would a high end user with a computer critical business want such a vulnerablilty ?
Any system used for law enforcement would be extremely highly targetable to.

no that is misniformed at best, and a bold face lie at the worst. fair use rights allow you make mp3s copies of music you own cds, or tapes ect…

diamond rio vs riaa set a precedent that coping music you own (own as in you own a michele branch cd) from one medium to another for your own personal use does not violate copy right.

not to mention the riaa has sent dmca supeonas against people with files that just sort of had similer names but were not copy right violating files. should these idiots really be trusted to delete files?

a better anology would cops get blow up cars becouse they look kind of of like they have done something wrong, wether or not they have is another story.

sorry for flying off the handle there.
back to your reguarly schdualed factual answers,

:smack: it should be
a better anology would cops get blow up drivers cars becouse they look kind of of like they have done something wrong, wether or not they have is another story.

Or the resulting boom from the IT market in showing people how to prevent this sort of security hole would cause a world wide shortage in IT people and I’ll be rich!

I dunno if it would stop the computer industry. I’ll still be looking for the fastest CPUs and videocards. I just won’t change to an OS that had this security hole, or I’ll place all my MP3s onto my DVD-RWs (where they are right now anyways) or perhaps just place my larger HDs on my server and store everything there (hey, the thing supports 8 IDE drives anyways!).

Like I said, lots of ways to prevent this sort of thing from happening. It would be just a huge waste of money (but since when did that stop the government?)

Wrong, O crypto-fascist.

Cops find stolen merchandise on your person. Cops then burn all your clothes and beat you up for it, or if they find it in your house, they then burn your house down for it.

Oh, how very just that is, yes?

:confused: Have you read any of the OP at all?

  1. The suggestion was the law enforcement authorities would not be involved. The alleged injured party would be permitted to inflict punishment without any legal action or requirement of proof.

  2. The suggestion was the alleged injured party gets to damage your property, in addition to removal of the alleged stolen property.

Factually, totally incorrect. My computer has MP3s that are legally my property and/or I have full rights to.

The way that DRAM/VRAM chips are made, repeatedly writing to the same memory location would do nothing special to the chip.

You could damage the PET with a killer poke. The way I heard it, the raster deflection values were stored in memory. If you set both the horizontal and vertical deflection values to 0, the monitor’s electron beam would stay in the middle of the screen, eventually damaging it.

As far as fair-use laws regarding recording copies of music that you purchased, I know of no case law that directly states that you have such a right. If someone does know of such a case, I’d love to see it.

I know that under fair use, a library has the right to make a limited number of copies for its own archival purposes, and a person has the right to tape television shows to view at a later time, though. You could argue that those imply you could make copies, but I’m sure RIAA’s lawyers would argue right back that they don’t.

I missed netscape 6’s cite of diamond v riaa. Intriguing…

I still maintain that there’s no actual way to physically damage a system without physical access to it.

A monitor won’t let you just set it to any unsupported mode. For years, monitors have simply flashed “unknown mode” or similar error messages if you tried to exceed their specifications, assuming that the videocard and operating system even let you do it. Windows will disable any display modes that both the videocard and monitor don’t indicate as supported.

As for the harddrive, it’s certainly smart enough not to let you do anything that will physically damage it. You could try repeatedly writing and rewriting to the same location, but this would take a LONG time to do anything effectual, if it worked at all.

As for the CPU, you can’t alter voltage settings via software. Motherboards are equipped with software programmable clock generators, but the most you can do with these is alter the FSB upwards. This could, indeed, crash the system, but it isn’t going to fry the processor except in the very long term, and there will be lots of instability first that would necessitate fixing the problem before damage could occur. Even this assumes that the processor and motherboard have no overheating protection, which most systems do. Furthermore, the FSB will be reset to stock at every reboot, meaning that the virus would need to stay installed and operating.

Of course, firmware modification isn’t physical damage, you’re just hosing some very important software, which can be repaired. The BIOS in a modern motherboard (those produced since the Chernobyl Virus, especially) won’t allow you flash them without authentication, hence why you have to use a specific flashing program. There’s also a Boot-Block BIOS that you can’t touch, which should remain intact even through a malicious attempt to scramble the BIOS. This would, in theory, allow the user to repair the damage without ever opening the case. You can corrupt the CMOS settings without difficulty, but this can be fixed by simply clearing the CMOS via jumper or software.


Eh, want to dig up an old 6800 and test that theory?

All of what you say holds perfectly true in modern systems, but the blanket statement you made includes all systems, including the ones broken enough to allow you to give them harmful instructions. If you make a statement, especially a broad statement, be prepared to back it up.

I have some MP3s on my computer that are music digitally produced by myself and friends, not the music of others. Just another way a person could have the legal right to own an MP3.

Here’s a thought. If they allow the recording industry guys to hack into people’s computers and delete files without their permission, aren’t they basically deputizing them? After all, it would amount to being given police powers (ie, search & seizure with no liability for the consequences). You could argue that, since the record companies guys would have police powers, they would become agents of the state, and they would have to obey proper search and seizure protocol. Since the law presumably wouldn’t require them to obtain a search warrent, it would be unconstitutional.

Does this sound like solid reasoning to you guys?

I think all this argument about “destroying” is nitpicking. Viruses that erased the hard disks of the top ten most popular operating systems would be a reasonable interpreation of what’s proposed IMHO.

This would, of course, still be so stupid on so many levels.

Hang on, why restrict to destroying remotely? Why don’t we allow copyright holders to hire thugs to come round and smash the computers of persistent offenders?

I’m surprised no one has mentioned the CIH virus so far.

That was a virus a while back that could, and still might, remotely “destroy” a computer. The W32/Kriz virus has a similar payload.



So, although it affects only certain systems with specific hardware/software specifications, it is technically possible to remotely “destroy” a computer connected to the Internet. This virus won’t destroy the BIOS of a motherboard that has a boot block BIOS (as mentioned earlier), but many older motherboards do not have this feature. Additionally, some motherboards have their BIOS chips hard soldered to the motherboard. In such a case, the virus could destroy the motherboard, not just the BIOS chip.

However, to practically implement such a legislation, apart from being utterly ridiculous, is not technically feasible due to the fact that there are so many different hardware and software specifications available through which to connect to the Internet.

This is a completely false statement. My works of intellectual property on my computer are MINE, regardless of whether or not I have a cutesy DRM system in place. I would suggest a review of US Copyright law to look for a requirement of DRM for positive assertion of copyright (there is none).