State Attorneys To P2P Networks: Clean Up Your Act

As the war against peer-to-peer networks escalates, the highest-ranking state law enforcement officers are weighing in on the debate.

WASHINGTON--As the war against peer-to-peer networks escalates, the highest-ranking state law enforcement officers are weighing in on the debate.

According to a draft letter by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the attorneys general want to pressure the file-sharing networks to clean up their acts.

Lockyer is circulating the draft among his peers, as the AGs express concern over what they call a series of ills perpetrated by P2P networks.

"The growth in P2P file-sharing has brought with it increased awareness of the risks associated with using these software programs," the letter states.

"Whether the widespread availability of pornography, including child pornography, the disclosure of sensitive personal information to millions of people, the exposure to pernicious computer worms and viruses or the threat of legal liability for copyright infringement, P2P file-sharing software has proven costly and dangerous for many consumers," the letter continues.

In the letter, which targets the operators of P2P services, the AGs accuse the companies of irresponsibly putting people at risk.

"We write to express our growing concern over the risks posed to consumers in our states from the use of your company's peer-to-peer file-sharing software and your firm's inadequate response to those risks," the letter states.

Sources with knowledge of the letter said that the MPAA prepared the draft for Lockyer. In the metadata of the e-mailed version of the letter a "stevensonv" worked on the letter. Vans Stevenson is the MPAA's senior vp state legislative affairs.

"It's pretty heinous that any kind of private-interest group is authoring a letter for our elected officials," a source says.

While the MPAA received input into the letter's contents, Stevenson says it wasn't the author.

"We didn't write it," he stresses. "Was input sought from us? Yes, and probably from others as well."

There's nothing unusual about the California attorney general having an interest in what is going on in the copyright industries, Stevenson explains.

"We're gratified that Attorney General Lockyer continues to have an interest and concern about P2P file-sharing software because of the impact of all the illegal file copying has on the motion picture and sound recording industries," he says.

It is unclear when the Lockyer and the other AGs would submit the letter, as sources call it "a work in progress," but it's clear that some AGs have grave concerns about the P2P services.

Brooks Boliek writes for Billboard sister publication The Hollywood Reporter.