"Chilling" -- Seems like a very appropriate description.
I find the situation oddly analogous to guns... I know... Somebody is sighing out there, but just hear it out...
Guns are weapons. Their original and primary intended purpose is to kill. This is not a debatable point.
The original intended object of the killing is people. Again, not an issue for debate.
Today, the intended object of killing is 1 of 3:
- People (murder/war)
- Animals (hunting)
- Targets, as in paper targets and the like
Now, nobody really objects to guns being used for target practice. (Ok, a slight exaggeration, but close enough.)
Guns are merely instruments, tools.
In the same way, software is merely a tool.
Now, I can write keylogging software, and nobody will be upset. However, if I use that inappropriately, well, mission control, we have a problem.
Gun control in Canada limits civilians to small arms like hunting rifles and shotguns, except for registered collectors. In the US, you can have military-grade small arms like M-16s or whatever -- fully automatic weapons.
Is the "attack" on Limewire an attack on "guns" in general, or is it an effort towards "gun control"?
Here are a few analogs that we need to figure out first:
Guns :: Limewire
Fully automatic guns :: Limewire
Guns :: Software
Fully automatic guns :: Software
Weapons :: Limewire
Weapons :: Software
Military (large) weapons :: Limewire
Military (large) weapons :: Software
Gun control :: Limiting software in a particular category or with a particular feature set
Gun control :: Limiting software
Killing :: Stealing
Killing :: Downloading
(Note in these 2 analogies the object is not stated.)
Some of those comparisons are simply nonsense, e.g. "Fully automatic weapons :: Software".
But depending on which view you take, you may end up at a different conclusion.
Remember, it used to be illegal to export encryption in the US as encryption was categorized as military weaponry. Today it's a different story.
Back to the issue...
Perhaps you've seen the bumper sticker:
Guns don't kill people. I do.
Which is a parody of:
Guns don't kill people. People kill people.
The analogy is:
Software doesn't steal copyrighted material. People steal copyrighted material.
Is that applicable?
Now, if you were to manufacture a gun and market it as "the people stopper", you'd clearly be saying that it is good at killing people. However, this is essentially already out there. The McMillan
company is a popular manufacturer of sniper rifles, for which their intended purpose is to kill PEOPLE. Again, "sniper rifles are for killing people" is trivial and not an issue for debate. "Snipers kill people" and "hunters kill animals".
So we know that there are already weapons out there with the primary intended purpose of killing people.
Does that differ from the case where you have software with the primary intended purpose of stealing/downloading copyrighted material?
To what degree would you go with the gun analogies? If at all? Or further?
If you believe in gun control, I'm willing to be that you also side closer to the RIAA on this issue, while if you don't believe in gun control, you likely side closer to Limewire's position. (Comparatively in the context of that sentence, that is, and not necessarily in a broader context.)
Or perhaps, like me, you believe in gun control in one form or another, but are more inclined to view restricting software like this as a potentially dangerous path to go down. I'm kind of undecided at the moment. My fear is that this will be used as a platform to launch broader attacks on software: i.e. As the legal system is built upon precedents, this follows.
I'm in the software game as that's how I make my living. So it's not in my best interests to have people stealing/downloading my software without paying me. I need to get paid so that I can pay my bills. At the same time though, I'm concerned about limiting freedom. It's a tough issue, and I'm not sure exactly where I stand on it at the moment.