U.S. Patent Office Spreads FUD About Music Downloads

It's simply amazing:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office claims that file-sharing sites could be setting up children for copyright infringement lawsuits and compromising national security.

"A decade ago, the idea that copyright infringement could become a threat to national security would have seemed implausible," Patent and Trademark Director Jon Dudas said in a report released this week. "Now, it's a sad reality."

The report, which the patent office recently forwarded to the U.S. Department of Justice, states that peer-to-peer networks could manipulate sites so children violate copyright laws more frequently than adults. That could make children the target in most copyright lawsuits and, in turn, make those protecting their material appear antagonistic, according to the report.

File-sharing software also could be to blame for government workers who expose sensitive data and jeopardize national security after downloading free music on the job, the report states.

What happened? Did someone in the entertainment industry bribe the PTO to write this?

Report here.

Posted on March 20, 2007 at 6:58 AM • 26 Comments


supersnailMarch 20, 2007 7:35 AM

Maybe Anhuaser Busch should get in on the act.

The Terrorist threat from non-drinkers.

Abstainers and abolistionists are promoting
anti-Amercan Muslim Fundimentalist views on the
so called evils of alchohol.
We recommend that such terrorist supporting propoaganda be suppresed.
Furthermore no one should be allowed to board an American aircraft without first demonstrating there
patriotism by drinking a pint of an American brewed
alcholic beveridge in full view of security.
If such measures had been in place in 2001 the 9/11 attacks would have been prevented.

pejMarch 20, 2007 7:43 AM

So how is it that government workers are ALLOWED to download 'free music' on the job? One would think people with access to sensitive data would have their web access heavily filtered, especially from the computers that process sensitive data. And what is file-sharing software doing on those machines in the first place...yikes.

At a minimum, they should at least TRAIN their people not to set LimeWire's shared folder to "My Documents"....

R. Scott BuchananMarch 20, 2007 8:12 AM

This actually feels like PR copy written by an RIAA or MPAA flak and which they got someone at USPTO to put out on the company letterhead. It just hits way too many of the corporate talking points to have been generated by a career civil servant.

AnonymousMarch 20, 2007 8:12 AM

"The report, which the patent office recently forwarded to the U.S. Department of Justice, states that peer-to-peer networks could manipulate sites so children violate copyright laws more frequently than adults. That could make children the target in most copyright lawsuits and, in turn, make those protecting their material appear antagonistic, according to the report."

Even if that *were* anything but moonbat crazy bull manure, I still wouldn't have the slightest idea how making the *AAs "appear antagonistic" would have any effect on "national security".

bureaucratMarch 20, 2007 8:22 AM

The whole thing smacks of a troll job, and I can't believe it was published with a straight face...

In my government job downloading free music to my government computer is a reason for dismissal. If I were to download sensitive data not related to my job function, that would be too.

If children infringe copyright it's clear that their parents are to be held accountable. The PR outcome of entering a copyright suit against a 12-year-old is not the problem of the Patent Office nor the law. If it's worth the hit the company can do it, if it's not the company can forebear.

Now, what does all that have to do with national security? Maybe under the Chinese total war doctrine the economic effect of failing to sue little Suzy will add up to a crushing defeat for the capitalist Capitol Records, but I fail to see how the entertainment industry is critical to national security.

Sorry, had to rant. I'll get back to putting your tax dollars to work.

CassandraMarch 20, 2007 8:25 AM


Bruce - unintended consequences of security: a locked aircraft cabin door and partial electrical failure mean passenger airliner is emergency evacuated.

See http://www.aaib.dft.gov.uk/cms_resources/...

(The AAIB are the Air Accidents Investigations Branch, part of the Department for Transport in the UK, and provide monthly public bulletins of aircraft mishaps)


GeneMarch 20, 2007 8:38 AM

I agree whole-heartedly with Mr Dundas: "A decade ago, the idea that copyright infringement could become a threat to national security would have seemed implausible....Now, it's a sad reality."

The sad reality is, that it _is_ implausible.

Why does everyone take these quotes out of context? ;)

RichMarch 20, 2007 9:48 AM

Here's the actual full report (80 pages) http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/dcom/olia/...

I think there are actually some good points mixed in with all the "National Security" and "Copyright infringement" FUD.

"Partial-uninstall features: At least four of the programs analyzed have deployed partial-uninstall features: If users uninstall one of these programs from their computers, the process will leave behind a file that will cause any subsequent installation of any version of the same program to share all folders shared by the “uninstalled��? copy of the program. Whenever a computer is used by more than one person, this feature ensures that users cannot know which files and folders these programs will share by default."

I don't know about you, but when I uninstall something, I want it to be gone. Obviously none of these programs should be running on computers with sensitive data. But how many home users know the extent of what they're sharing?

I'm not sure what this has to do with the USPTO, but people should be aware of the risks of file sharing programs. Granted, they shouldn't be HIT OVER THE HEAD WITH NATIONAL SECURITY!!!

AnonymousMarch 20, 2007 10:00 AM

Thanks to STEGOGRAPHY, which I'm sure you're familiar with, roughly half of the shared music, photo, and video files contain hidden CHILD PORN!

Doc BarnettMarch 20, 2007 10:02 AM

The IW summary is most bizarre. What do they mean by "manipulate sites so children..." ? Does kazaa act as a Web proxy and alter content in some way specific to children?

EvanMarch 20, 2007 10:05 AM

Settings, history, etc being saved on the system after an uninstall is nothing new. All kinds of programs do that.

Most of them prompt you whether you want that information/database/config file(s) to remain on the system, but it isn't the end of the free world if it doesn't.

When I install something which has the potential to give others access to things on my system, I go through the options of that program to make sure it's locked down/restricted/etc. The report makes it sound like if you reinstall the program, you have no way of knowing what it is and isn't sharing out. That's just not true. Go into the Options and look at what the program allows, then if you don't want it shared, REMOVE IT. National Security Crisis averted!

As per all other comments, this is an unbelievable amount of FUD.

anon1234March 20, 2007 10:37 AM


Is that the art of writing about ancient lizards with big plates growing out of their backs?

Joe PattersonMarch 20, 2007 10:41 AM

The really amusing thing is that, according to this article:


music downloading is cutting into physical pirate's profits. And of course, we all know that the money that physical pirates make is all going to fund terrorism. So P2P is fighting the good fight against those evil terrorists! /sarcasm

Bluezoo7March 20, 2007 11:01 AM

I read this last week at thought the same thing.

But this is great news. Anytime anything happens on my network I didn't want to happen, I'll just blame it on P2P!

Virus outbreak? Its P2P's fault!
Botnet? Darn that P2P!

Perfect! Thank goodness too, because my "sunspots" excuse was getting old...

dimitrisMarch 20, 2007 12:17 PM

"What happened? Did someone in the entertainment industry bribe the PTO to write this?"

They're just concerned about pirates corrupting our precious bodily fluids.

derfMarch 20, 2007 12:32 PM

Why does the patent office have anything to say about a copyright infringement issue? Whoever is in charge of keeping the bureaucrats inside their own sandboxes should be fired for stealing tax dollars and not doing their job.

Terry ClothMarch 20, 2007 1:36 PM

And copyright and downloading relate to patents and trademarks how?

This is what comes of inventing the conflationary phrase ``intellectual property''---they think it's all the same thing, so everybody dealing with a Government-sanctioned monopoly thinks they can weigh in on any other such monopoly. I guess it's only fair, since the Copyright Office thinks it should have the right to control inventions.

AnonymousMarch 20, 2007 1:45 PM

Yeah, there's some sensible stuff in the report, but there's also some stuff (like the quoted excerpt) that can only be called crazy, as in "somebody needs professional psychiatric help". Unless, of course, the author was intentionally writing parody, in which case it's brilliant.

paulMarch 20, 2007 1:53 PM

I guess the idea is that by creating a situation where the RIAA can take away a kid's college money for listening to popular music, p2p sites are creating a generation of young people who may have insufficient reverence for the Rule of Law, especially as it applies to large companies holding intellectual property. Something that has never existed before in the history of the universe. Next thing you know those young people will be out in the streets petitioning their government for redress of grievances. Definite national security threat.

felineMarch 20, 2007 1:54 PM

What the heck is a file sharing site? I wish the press would try harder to excise that phrase from their articles. It is a signal that an article's written by someone who doesn't understand the very basics.

By the way, the copyright office also has had this very questionable material about p2p file sharing software on its site for awhile 00-->

(( ...
To avoid these risks, there are currently many "authorized" services on the Internet that allow consumers to purchase copyrighted works online, whether music, ebooks, or motion pictures. By purchasing works through authorized services, consumers can avoid the risks of infringement liability and can limit their exposure to other potential risks, e.g., viruses, unexpected material, or spyware.. ))


This may be true, or at least arguable. But isn't it ridiculous to suggest people shouldn't ever use p2p legally, because it might be used illegally by others, and they might get hurt by spyware, if they're complete naifs? None of the popular p2p programs have spyware, and almost all are free, open, software. It is also completely legal, and convenient and efficient, to use p2p protocols to distribute all sorts of material. Why the heck does the copyright office take the position that this completely legal behaviour should be discouraged, and not even mentioned? Telling half the true is terrible lie.

If the copyright office were fair, shouldn't they suggest people avoid the use of the internet altogether, to avoid all those viruses and spywares :P . And to avoid even the possibility you might infringe copyright, maybe you shouldn't ever buy anything from anybody who isn't "authorized". (Be sure look for the word "authorized" in quotation marks on any service selling songs: it's evidently the official mark of endorsement from the US copyright office.)

quincunxMarch 20, 2007 10:48 PM

It's just a pretext to regulate the internet some more.

They (special interests and our shepards) need to rationalize the regulating in some way (simply stating that they want a cartel arrangement doesn't convince their victims). They utilize innocent children and false pleas of 'national security' for their mantra in order to unleash their real agenda: information protectionism.

Doesn't really work on us, but the sheepies may buy it. This is classic Propaganda.

"File-sharing software also could be to blame for government workers who expose sensitive data and jeopardize national security after downloading free music on the job, the report states."

So, everyone else must pay for their failure? Why should we reward the incompetent? If they can't do their freaking job, you fire them!

JohnaramaMarch 21, 2007 10:53 AM

There seems to be no distinction made between useful file-sharing and illegal file-sharing...this is like that whole knife "issue": we're not going to outlaw knives because a minority of them will be used to stab people! This is getting silly; especially as now a lot of people are using encrypted file-sharing applications that prevent third parties from identifying what's being exchanged, there's lots of them out there, such as Gigatribe: http://www.gigatribe.com

mheymanMarch 21, 2007 1:54 PM

A Patent Office Director history rant from PATNEWS:

(from Greg Aharonian's 3/16/07 PATNEWS):

...thanks to Gingrich's hypocrisy [his adultery is okay because he only lied to his wife and the country, not a federal judge as well like Clinton], we had an impeachment attempt so lousy it cost Rogan (one of the House inquisitors) his Congressional job, which for payment for his being an obedient Republican robot who needed a job, he got the plum job of Director of the Patent Office, despite having no qualifications for the job. And to hurt the patent system and America even more with hypocrisy, the hypocrite Rogan got his impeachment lapdog Dudas installed as the next PTO Director, which has further hurt the patent system, as management and quality at the PTO gets worse and worse.

ddaaMarch 21, 2007 6:38 PM

This is getting offtopic, but I have to point out that anything Greg Aharonian says needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

He is a noisy critic of USPTO, but a fervent supporter of software and mathematical patents. His agenda is to put patent examination out of the hands of the "incompetent" USPTO, and have it externalized to prior art experts such as himself. In particular, software and mathematical patents are a gold mine for prior art experts because independent reinvention is so common, which is one of the reasons why such patents should not exist in the first place.

By denouncing the incompetence of the USPTO, Greg is only helping his own legal business.

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