New Bill To Toughen Digital Crimes
December 7, 2007 at 11:44 AM (PT)
With JAMMIE THOMAS being socked with a $220,000 judgment for illegal downloading, you may think the laws against digital piracy are pretty tough now. Apparently, there are those in Congress who think the current laws aren't tough enough.
ARSTECHNICA.COM reports that a bipartisan group of Congressmen has introduced a bill to strengthen intellectual property laws and increase the penalties for breaking those laws. Although the main target of the bill is to combat industrial counterfeiting and knock-off drugs, it also creates a new government agency strictly for IP enforcement and one of the penalties allows the government to seize people's computers.
Seizing expensive manufacturing equipment used for large-scale infringement from a commercial pirate may be appropriate ... Seizing a family's general-purpose computer in a download case, as this bill would allow, is not appropriate
Suffice it to say, the MPAA and RIAA won't be lobbying against this bill.
It's also not much of a coincidence that one of the co-sponsors of The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2007 is HOWARD BERMAN (D-CA), who's behind the move to put a performance royalty on terrestrial radio stations
The bill illustrates a growing divide between those who believe copyright enforcement should be strengthened to make it more punitive, and with those who believe copyright reform should reflect the realities of a digital world.
Holding the latter view of PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE Pres. GIGI SOHN, who believes the proposed legislation goes too far. "Seizing expensive manufacturing equipment used for large-scale infringement from a commercial pirate may be appropriate," she stated. "Seizing a family's general-purpose computer in a download case, as this bill would allow, is not appropriate."
Furthermore, she decried the increase in "already extraordinary copyright damages," asserting that damages be closely tied into the actual harm suffered by copyright holders.
Seeing a silver lining in the bill is THE DIGITAL FREEDOM CAMPAIGN's MAURA CORBETT, who believes meaningful copyright reform "must include limits on statutory damages and the codification of the vital principles of fair use." Hopefully, the bill "will serve as a catalyst to larger, more meaningful reform."
Read the entire article here.