3 Stupid Tech Laws

3 Stupid Tech Laws

Lawmakers in Japan passed a law targeting piracy, so people uploading copyrighted files now face up to 10 years in prison in addition to hefty fines. But it isn’t the only country with ridiculous tech laws on the books.

What’s got tongues wagging and eyes widening in technology lately? “The Chat Room” covers what’s buzzing around the water cooler.

Japan’s new law means otherwise law-abiding citizens could spend large chunks of their life even for sharing pirated videos on a casual level.

Hacker group Anonymous is furious and launching retaliatory attacks, but this sort of extreme law isn’t anything new — lawmakers around the world have made some dubious calls trying to stay on top of technology.

1. Cabbie Music Fees: Finland

Cab drivers who want to entertain their customers with music in Finland need to fork over royalties to play songs, which probably leads to a lot of silent drives. Finland makes restaurants, bars and other public places pay royalties on the songs they play, so the cab law simply extends that idea by assuming a cab counts as a public place.

The Supreme Court instated the law in 2002 despite protests from the Finnish Taxi Association, and the Scandinavian country’s drivers usually pony up the fees annually. Something tells us this fee has inspired a lot of a capella car rides.

2. No Scary Pictures: Tennessee

Tennessee legislators passed a law in 2011 that makes it illegal to put images online that could distress people who see them.

While the law set out to protect people from online harassment, which is a noble aim, its broad wording means anyone who posts an image that could be perceived as offensive or frightening could wind up in hot water.

This means people who post religious jokes (like a cartoon of Muhammad, for example) could end up in jail, as well as people who post something on a friend’s Facebook wall that ends up offending someone they’ve never met before. So if there’s anyone out there with a severe kitten phobia, we’re all in trouble.

3. Sharing Your Netflix Password Is a No-No: Tennessee

Keeping up its trend of silly tech laws, the Tennessee legislature also passed a law that defines password sharing as theft, making it illegal to share Netflix passwords too freely. Giving passwords to too many friends and family is considered “stealing entertainment services” and is punishable by law.

The law passed in 2011, and the focus is on larger password-sharing operations, not people who give their information to a couple close buds — but the way the law is worded leaves even casual password-sharers open to prosecution. Hopefully prosecutors will use discretion when they apply the law in court. Otherwise you may want to keep your Netflix viewing confined to just your laptop or tablet — at least if you’re in Tennessee.

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