Feeds

US seeks to criminalize 'attempted' piracy

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

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
Hungary's internet tax cannot be allowed to set a precedent, says EC
More protests planned against giga-tariff for Tuesday evening
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.