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Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007

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On May 14, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales proposed the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007 to Congress. The legislation was preemptive in nature, and called "a sweeping intellectual-property bill that would increase criminal penalties for copyright infringement, including 'attempts' to commit piracy." [1]

Details

The Intellectual Property Act of 2007 proposed a package of new tactics to combat copyright infringement, especially focused on internet piracy. According to a CNet News Article, the bill would:

  • Criminalize "attempting" to infringe copyright. At the time, federal law punished not-for-profit copyright infringement with between one to ten years in prison, but only if actual infringement took place. The IPPA would eliminate that requirement. (The Justice Department's summary of the legislation says: "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.")[2]
  • Create a new crime of life imprisonment for using pirated software. Anyone using counterfeit products who "recklessly causes or attempts to cause death" can be imprisoned for life. During a conference call, Justice Department officials gave the example of a hospital using pirated software instead of paying for it.[3]
  • Permit more wiretaps for piracy investigations. Wiretaps would be authorized for investigations of Americans who are "attempting" to infringe copyrights.[4]
  • Allow computers to be seized more readily. Specifically, property such as a PC "intended to be used in any manner" to commit a copyright crime would be subject to forfeiture, including civil asset forfeiture. Civil asset forfeiture had become popular among police agencies in drug cases as a way to gain additional revenue, though it was problematic and controversial.[5]
  • Increase penalties for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anticircumvention regulations. At the time, criminal violations were punished by jail sentences of up to ten years and fines of up to $1 million. The IPPA would add forfeiture penalties.[6]
  • Add penalties for "intended" copyright crimes. At the time, certain copyright crimes required someone to commit the "distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period of at least 10 copies" valued at more than $2,500. The IPPA would insert a new prohibition: actions that were "intended to consist of" distribution.[7]
  • Require Homeland Security to alert the Recording Industry Association of America. This would happen when CDs with "unauthorized fixations of the sounds, or sounds and images, of a live musical performance" are attempted to be imported. Neither the Motion Picture Association of America nor the Business Software Alliance (nor any other copyright holder, such as photographers, playwrights or news organizations, for that matter) would qualify for this kind of treatment.[8]

Congressional action

As of June 14, 2007, the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007 had yet to find a sponsor in the House or Senate. Members from both parties, however, had spoken in support of increased intellectual property protection in the past. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) commented on the bill, "We are reviewing (the attorney general's) proposal. Any plan to stop IP theft will benefit the economy and the American worker... I applaud the attorney general for recognizing the need to protect intellectual property."[9]

Controversy

On May 21, 2007, John Aravosis of AMERICAblog wrote, "First off, what this legislation is really about...is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security getting carte blanche authorization to fish through your computer and tap your phones with impunity, whenever they want, so long as they argue that they think you might have ever tried to download even a single song via Limewire or some of other music-sharing software, or have ever copied a photo off the Internet, or even watched a single clip from any TV show on YouTube. They're going to use this legislation to hunt for terrorists, and won't need search warrants, etc. That's what this is about."[10]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

Sources

  1. Declan McCullagh, Gonzales proposes new crime: 'Attempted' copyright infringement, CNet News, May 15, 2007
  2. Declan McCullagh, Gonzales proposes new crime: 'Attempted' copyright infringement, CNet News, May 15, 2007
  3. Declan McCullagh, Gonzales proposes new crime: 'Attempted' copyright infringement, CNet News, May 15, 2007
  4. Declan McCullagh, Gonzales proposes new crime: 'Attempted' copyright infringement, CNet News, May 15, 2007
  5. Declan McCullagh, Gonzales proposes new crime: 'Attempted' copyright infringement, CNet News, May 15, 2007
  6. Declan McCullagh, Gonzales proposes new crime: 'Attempted' copyright infringement, CNet News, May 15, 2007
  7. Declan McCullagh, Gonzales proposes new crime: 'Attempted' copyright infringement, CNet News, May 15, 2007
  8. Declan McCullagh, Gonzales proposes new crime: 'Attempted' copyright infringement, CNet News, May 15, 2007
  9. Declan McCullagh, Gonzales proposes new crime: 'Attempted' copyright infringement, CNet News, May 15, 2007
  10. John Aravosis, Gonzales proposing new Orwellian thought crimes law AMERICAblog, May 21, 2007.

External resources

External articles

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