U.S. House approves tougher law against file trading
Individuals could face criminal charges
By Tom Krazit, IDG News Service September 28, 2004
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that could allow criminal charges to be brought against individuals who participate in file-swapping Web sites or networks.
On a voice vote, the measure passed the House and will now be sent to the U.S. Senate. The bill expands the definition of file traders eligible for criminal penalties from individuals who "willingly" distribute copyright files to those who "knowingly" do so, an escalation that could result in jail time for file swappers, according to Adam Eisgrau, executive director of the P2P United lobbying group, which represents peer-to-peer companies and organizations.
The Piracy Deterrence and Education Act of 2004 was sponsored by Representative Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas. "My legislation will close a loophole that has made it impossible for prosecutors to bring charges against counterfeiters. It empowers federal authorities to prosecute counterfeiting activity on a greater scale with better results," Smith said in a statement posted to his Web site Tuesday.
Detractors of the legislation claim that the measure would not stop the trading of copyright files and will not help the entertainment industry find a way to ensure artists get paid for the distribution of their works.
"Putting downloaders behind bars, or decimating their college funds with civil lawsuits, won't put the genie of peer-to-peer technology back in the bottle or put real money in the pockets of real artists," P2P United's Eisgrau said in an e-mail interview with IDG News Service earlier this week.
(Grant Gross in Washington, D.C. contributed to this report.)
House bill makes camcording films a felony
WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) - Movie pirates beware. If you get caught camcording a movie, you could get up to six years in federal prison under legislation that won approval by the House on Tuesday.
The bill's fate is unclear as it still must win Senate approval before it can be signed by President Bush, but supporters think the Senate could vote on it next week.
The Piracy Deterrence and Education Act makes camcording a felony punishable by three years in prison for a first offense and six years for later offenses.
It also seeks to make it easier for the Justice Department to prosecute Internet users who illegally distribute large amounts of music and other copyrighted works. It was approved on a voice vote.
"There seems to be a belief among America's youth ... that copyright piracy is either an acceptable activity or one that carries a low risk of penalties," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Passage of the bill was praised by the motion picture industry, which fought for the bill along with the record industry.
"Today's action by the House of Representatives will help thwart the widespread theft of America's intellectual property," MPAA president and CEO Dan Glickman said. "Digital film piracy is a menace that poses a dire threat to every American filmmaker. H.R. 4077 will provide law enforcement the necessary tools to go after the heart of film piracy: Illegal camcording of movies and the online theft of films on peer-to-peer networks or on similar technologies. Without such legislative remedies, film piracy could have a disastrous impact on the American film industry and put to peril the livelihoods of men and women who are employed in our industry."
PAUSE OVER CLAUSE
While the MPAA was pleased with the anti-piracy sections of the bill, it was less than thrilled by a section of 4077 known as the Family Movie Act. That legislation, written by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, would indemnify technologies that block out purportedly offensive content from motion pictures. The industry fought that bill in committee until it was married to 4077.
"We testified against the Family Movie Act, and we stand by that testimony," MPAA vp David Green said. "We aren't supporting 4077 because it includes the Family Movie Act but because it includes important anti-piracy measures, and we appreciate the chairmen's willingness to hear our concerns and address some of them."
Smith said the Family Movie Act is necessary to protect children.
"Parents should have the right to watch any movie they want and to skip over or mute any content they find objectionable," he said. "This legislation ensures that parents have the final say in what their children watch in the privacy of their own home and that parents can act in the best interests of their children."
Changes made in the Family Movie Act make it clear that the technology can't add content, commercials could not be edited, the underlying work cannot be changed, and it applies only to home viewing.
"No one in the business is jumping up and down applauding the Family Movie Act, but as a legislative compromise, the package is a real victory for us as a copyright industry that's getting hammered by piracy," one industry executive said. "That's a big deal for us."
POLICE WITNESS OPTIONAL
About 10 states already prohibit people from recording movies inside theaters. The House bill would make it a felony. Under the legislation, local and state police could make arrests even when officers don't personally witness the illicit recording.
The bill also makes it easier for the Justice Department to prosecute Internet users who illegally distribute more than 1,000 copyrighted files.
U.S. laws now require criminal prosecutors to prove that an Internet user "willfully" distributed music and movie files illegally. Some Internet users have complained that they were unaware that by downloading files from these networks onto their own computers, they also make the files available to others.
Under the House bill, prosecutors must prove that Internet users "knowingly" distributed copyrighted materials with a "reckless disregard" that others also might copy them -- a much easier standard to prove.
It also encourages the FBI to use Internet providers to forward warning letters to subscribers whose accounts are being used for illegally downloading music and movies. That provision is aimed largely at parents who might be unaware of their children's activities.
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While the law itself, as written, is a cluster-fuck that has unintended consequences, I must say that I am not against prosecuting music thieves, and that is what it is. Have I stolen internet music? You betcha. but I have not, for a long time now, after I could no longer reconcile my enjoyment of "free access" to all the music I wanted with the fact that it IS STEALING. Some may feel different, but hey, download at your own risk my friend.
Two pages from yesterday plus an update today...
US House passes bill targeting Net song swappers *UPDATE* California is in the mix!
Not to throw a kink in their little plan, but a trend I'm noticing with my peers is instead of downloading the songs of the net which are typically poor quality, one person can get a CD and everyone rips it to their computers. Untraceable and for the most part, just as "damaging" to the Recording Industry.
What are they going to do to enforce it? Frisk everyone coming into a movie, or just post half a dozen cops/KGB wannabees in every theatre, watching the patrons? I could see a sign at the front, informing people that it's now against the law, and potential penalties, but much more than that is too intimidating. I'll skip the movies in that case.
And no, I don't pirate anything.
Too bad most camcorded movie are from OVERSEAS.
Just another feeble attempt by the GOvt to try to control the Uncontrollable. Long live freedom and the internet!
As fast as movies get to DVD's these days I usually avoid the high price of movie tickets anyway. On top of that they still use front projection with shitty non-digital screen clarity. It's 2004 for crying out loud. Movies in theaters should be shown in a digital format on modern screens. For $7.50 a ticket it would then be well worth it for me. My rear projection TV produces an image hundreds of times better than your typical movie theater and my sound system is just as good for the most part.
My point being that I can't imagine anyone who would actually buy a movie that was recorded on a home video camera. Fucking idiots.