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P2P activity frustrates senators

Members of the U. S. Senate are pushing federal authorities to crack down on peer-to-peer services that pirate copyrighted works, Reuters reported.

Sens. Arlen Specter, (R-Penn.), and Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.), told officials with the Justice Department and the U.S. Copyright Office that they wanted recommendations for government action on the issue. They spoke at a Senate hearing on the P2P services following the Supreme Court’s June decision in MGM v. Grokster that file sharing networks could be liable when their users copy music, movies and other protected works without permission.

Feinstein, in particular, was upset over what she views as inaction by the Justice Department. She said with a unanimous Supreme Court decision, and peer-to-peer use is increasing, the country needs a strong law to protect copyright companies.

Debra Wong Yang, the U.S. attorney for California’s central district, defended the department’s actions, pointing out several investigations DOJ has undertaken that have led to arrests and convictions. He said the DOJ is going after those who are distributing the bulk of the material. Yang chairs the new Subcommittee on Cyber Crime and Intellectual Property of the department’s Advisory Committee.

Yang, Reuters reported, told the lawmakers that the department is concentrating on netting the big fish because it does not have the resources to go after everyone who infringes. It’s got to either be made legal or shut down, Feinstein said.

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