Feeds

US seeks to criminalize 'attempted' piracy

You don't have to be good at it to be a criminal

Security for virtualized datacentres

The US Department of Justice is proposing stiffer penalties for software copyright violators, such as the criminalization of "attempted" piracy and foregoing the necessity of patent registration before prosecution.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales submitted the "Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007" to the coalition against counterfeiting and piracy of the US Chamber of Commerce, Monday. The chamber is the largest business lobby group in the US, representing more than three million business groups.

"These crimes, as we all know, also have a direct impact on our economy, costing victims millions of dollars and, if left unchecked, diminishing entrepreneurship," Gonzales said.

You can read a PDF version of the proposal here, but we'll provide the highlights:

Do not want

The DoJ wants to create a new Federal offense for "attempting to commit" criminal copyright infringement.

"It is a general tenet of the criminal law that those who attempt to commit a crime but do not complete it are as morally culpable as those who succeed in doing so," the proposal states.

In a press conference call today, a senior Justice Department official gave the example of finding a warehouse of DVDs but not being able to prove necessarily that they were actually distributed or sold. In this case, they would be able to charge those involved with attempted copyright infringement.

There appears to be nothing, however, concerning the breadth of such prosecution.

Copyright registration a "formality"

Current law provides that a person cannot be held liable for copyright infringement until the copyright claim has been registered. The DoJ proposes this law is amended so the rule only applies to civil infringement and not criminal prosecutions.

"Registration is an administrative formality," the proposal states, "and although this formality has — and should have — certain consequences in civil cases, it should not in criminal cases."

US copyright law identifies criminal infringement as any person who infringes a copyright willfully for commercial or private financial gain, or distributes one or more copies of copyrighted works which have a retail value of more than $1,000.

Doing life for Runaway Bride

The maximum penalty for counterfeiting offenses which endanger public health or safety would be increased to 10 to 20 years imprisonment if the defendant knowingly or recklessly attempts or causes serious bodily injury. A counterfeiter can be charged with life imprisonment if they knowingly attempt or cause death.

The department claims this change would be largely aimed at violations such as counterfeit pharmaceuticals — but who knows — anyone who has suffered through a pirated version of Spiderman 3 just might have a case.

DMCA upgrade

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act would be amended to allow the seizing of property used in copyright violations and of property bought or received from pirating proceeds. When a person is convicted of violating the DMCA, the court would be required to order that person to pay restitution to any copyright owner whose rights were violated.

Can you hear me now?

The proposal would add intellectual property crimes to the offenses which allow law enforcement to intercept wire or oral communications for investigation.

This adds software piracy to the long list of reasons the government wants to wiretap you.

Gonzales said the Justice Department has convicted 57 per cent more defendants for criminal copyright offenses in 2006 over the previous year. Prison terms of over two years have increased 130 per cent over the same period. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Hey, Scots. Microsoft's Bing thinks you'll vote NO to independence
World's top Google-finding website calls it for the UK
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.