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HR.4077, the Piracy Deterrence and Education Act, has been approved by the United States' House Judiciary Committee.

The bill specifies up to five years' jail for anyone making over a thousand copyrighted works available for download. That's if the infringer is profiting from the action: ordinary P2P users would face up to three years simply for making their collections available.

Thwarted by the courts, copyright holders and their lobby groups, notably the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA), have been forced to file "John Doe" suits against infringers. But HR.4077 brings the full power of the state to their aid:

The FBI will be required to serve as propaganda ministry, or in the words of the bill, "develop a program based on providing of information and notice to deter members of the public from committing acts of copyright infringement through the Internet," and enforcer.

The Feds must "facilitate the sharing among law enforcement agencies, Internet service providers, and copyright owners of information concerning acts of copyright infringement described in paragraph".

The committee asks Congress to discourage the P2P networks from deploying the "guns don't kill people" defence.

"Publicly available peer-to-peer file-sharing services can and should adopt reasonable business practices and use technology in the marketplace to address the existing risks posed to consumers by their services and facilitate the legitimate use of peer-to-peer file sharing technology and software."

The bill also makes it illegal to use a video recorder in a cinema to capture a movie.

The chairman of the House Committee which nodded through the measure, Rep James Sensenbrenner (R.-Wis), was paid $18,000 by the Recording Industry Ass. of America to make a trip to Taiwan and Thailand in January 2003, a breach of the House ethics rules, say critics. [WaPo | Reg] Sensenbrenner said it was a "fact-finding mission", even though his schedule was arranged by the State Department.

But the distinction between State and corporate interests are now so close as to be indistinguishable. ®

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