Open Source Software Made Illegal After “A Year In Effect”


A year in effect in Massachusetts means that if you are looking for any kind of software made available by the state or for commercial use, you can no longer do so without paying a fee to the state by either registering a waiver or paying a fee. This legislation is part of a wider and much larger attempt by our government to control the Internet.

I recently read an email statement by Steve Case, the head of the Massachusetts Department of Consumer Affairs. It was not very surprising to me given that I too am not a lawyer, but it still felt strange because all of this is happening behind a firewall of the DMCA that I feel is completely unnecessary.

“We’ve been trying to stop bad actors in the digital space since the early days of the digital revolution,” Case explained at the start of my interview with him before he was asked about how the idea was to be implemented in the future. “We’ve learned over time that we simply don’t have the ability to do it.” Case says that the state, through its Department of Consumer Affairs, has filed more than 1,300 lawsuits in the past five years alone on copyright complaints. “We’ve been putting on hold this whole idea of trying to sue you once for a certain number of years,” he said of the idea.

The problem is that the DMCA has created quite a few bad actors through the years through the years. We cannot keep making those same mistakes again and again with the hope that they will just end up paying us the money, and there is no real law that says that we cannot charge them the money.

The law, that the law was enacted to achieve, has made it impossible for law enforcement agencies in any county in the state to ever go after a “repeat infringer.” They are not going to go after someone who did something a few times on a server of a known bad actor, that is, an individual site with 10,000 visitors, for one year in effect. They can’t. They simply cannot.

The case against Mr. Case is that “once you enter a copyright term, you have to stay in there.” This means that someone who has been active on file sharing sites or downloading music for a long time is the “repeat infringer,” and since the copyright term is only for 5 years, that means you won’t go to prison for a long period of time.

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