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May 15, 2007 11:24 PM   Subscribe

Gonzales pushes plan to criminalize copyright infringement, making it punishable by life imprisonment; to increase wiretaps; and to require Homeland Security to notify the RIAA in certain circumstances. "To meet the global challenges of IP crime." I'd comment on this, but I'm afraid that someone might think I was copying someone else. The Intellectual Property Protection Act (official press release) appeared previously in a speech (2005) and as a draft (2006) - now the Justice department is pushing Congress to bring it forward. [newsfilter]
posted by blacklite (59 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes, copyright infringement is much worse than rape or grand theft auto.

Fortunately, this is being introduced by Alberto Gonzalez, so I doubt it will go anywhere.
posted by Malor at 11:31 PM on May 15, 2007


Time to start reviewing our extradition treaty with the US, I think.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:32 PM on May 15, 2007


Abj, gur erny dhrfgvba: ubj qbrf bar qrzbafgengr gung rapelcgrq pbagrag vf n qrevingvir jbex? [rot13]
posted by nilihm at 11:33 PM on May 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Gonzales? Didn't he used to be Attorney General before leaving in disgrace leaving to spend more time with his family?

Seriously though, this is bullshit.
posted by lekvar at 11:33 PM on May 15, 2007


Life imprisonment for copyright violation? What's next, the guillotine for not paying your parking fines?
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 11:40 PM on May 15, 2007


You know, the copyright whiners (and, hey, I've had my stuff ripped off, too, wah wah wah) make me just want to copy everything I find. Even if it's just to use as toilet tissue.

Electronic toilet tissue.
posted by maxwelton at 11:43 PM on May 15, 2007


Malor: It is if you're a large corporation. And if you're not, why would your opinion count?
posted by pompomtom at 11:47 PM on May 15, 2007


Yes, copyright infringement is much worse than rape or grand theft auto.

Read the article, maybe? Life imprisonment would be a possible punishment only if the copyright infringer "recklessly causes or attempts to cause death." Recklessly killing people is pretty serious, I think we can all agree.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 11:48 PM on May 15, 2007


Read the article, maybe? Life imprisonment would be a possible punishment only if the copyright infringer "recklessly causes or attempts to cause death." Recklessly killing people is pretty serious, I think we can all agree.

I'm just trying to think how you use copyright infringement to cause death... having a mental blank. Anyone?
posted by Neale at 11:53 PM on May 15, 2007


An open letter to Gonzales
posted by homunculus at 11:56 PM on May 15, 2007


Well, the article doesn't actually say that the copyright infringement itself would have to cause the death, but presumably there would have to be some sort of nexus between the two.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:02 AM on May 16, 2007


Don't we already have laws in place for murder and/or attempted murder? I'm just picturing a guy yelling HARRRRRR and attempting to decapitate someone with a pirated CD of the sex pistols, or something.
posted by IronLizard at 12:06 AM on May 16, 2007



Didn't he used to be Attorney General before leaving in disgrace Didn't he used to be inhouse counsel for Enron?
posted by phaedon at 12:09 AM on May 16, 2007


Didn't he used to be inhouse counsel for Enron?

No.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:14 AM on May 16, 2007


I actually found the most worrisome part the bit where they can seize and keep any computer "intended to be used" to commit copyright violation.

The blatant corruption and conflict of interest that forfeiture laws such as this have caused in the "War On Drugs" is bad enough. But this is like saying they can take your car and keep it if they think you "intended" to use it to transport drugs.
posted by kyrademon at 12:15 AM on May 16, 2007


If someone "recklessly causes or attempts to cause death" they will likely be facing criminal charges anyways, thus what does this law actually introduce that is novel?
posted by bhouston at 12:17 AM on May 16, 2007


If someone "recklessly causes or attempts to cause death" they will likely be facing criminal charges anyways, thus what does this law actually introduce that is novel?

The proposed law would make the crime a federal matter. Manslaughter and attempted manslaughter are usually state crimes.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:20 AM on May 16, 2007


yeah, ok. gonzales was a member of vinson and elkins' corporate department. digest at will.
(i retract the "inhouse" qualification.)
posted by phaedon at 12:24 AM on May 16, 2007


What does Gonzales's work at V&E have to do with copyright infringement?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:33 AM on May 16, 2007


maybe you should read lekvar's comment in this thread, and you'll realize that my comment is a response to that. and if you'd like to elaborate on your reply to my rhetorical question, please do. because i took your "No." as evidence that you need a reality check.
posted by phaedon at 12:42 AM on May 16, 2007


Wow, great way to bring some heat off him, bring up another fluff, badly written and thought out proposed law. The whole whitehouse staff and its fearless leader need to go, now. Criminals above the law.
posted by IronWolve at 12:43 AM on May 16, 2007


then again i'm stoned.
posted by phaedon at 12:43 AM on May 16, 2007


The civil forfeiture provisions -- for an "intention" to use to violate -- will be abused by any cop shop looking to make a buck.

And how can any real conservative call this something the Department of Homeland security should be spending its time on?

Yes, I'm looking at any of you who are too proud or bisy or disgusted with "the politicians" to vote; this is the America you get for not exercising your duty to be a political citizen.
posted by orthogonality at 12:46 AM on May 16, 2007


Elaborate? You asked whether Gonzales used to be in-house counsel for Enron, and it turns out that no, he did not.

How on earth does that indicate that I need a reality check? Reality is that Gonzales was not in-house counsel for Enron.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:47 AM on May 16, 2007


Are you lecturing me on the inappropriate use of the word "in-house" in this particular sentence, or on the claim that Gonzales essentially counseled Enron?

Because sometimes I have a hard time distinguishing actual points from pedagogical jujitsu.
posted by phaedon at 1:02 AM on May 16, 2007


Wait, you mean that after his recent performance he's still the Attorney General.

He's got some big brass testicles, that guy.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:08 AM on May 16, 2007


So apparently copyright infringement is the new mandatory drug sentencing law.
posted by sourwookie at 1:09 AM on May 16, 2007


I'm just trying to think how you use copyright infringement to cause death... having a mental blank. Anyone?

Actually, reading the official press release, it appears that those criminal measures would apply to counterfeiting, not necessarily copyright infringements.

And, yes, counterfeits do cause quite a few deaths. (Think of counterfeit drugs, or aircraft bogus parts...)

But of course, the IT geeks see an intellectual property issue and they immediately only think in terms of software, music and video piracy...
posted by Skeptic at 1:36 AM on May 16, 2007


Looks like Todd Goldman will have to rethink his current business model.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:49 AM on May 16, 2007


From the article:
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.
What. The. Fuck?!
posted by the cydonian at 2:02 AM on May 16, 2007


Criminalize "attempts" ? So if I attempt to park, that's an attempt not to pay parking costs ?

Who the hell is supposed to decide what is an attempted crime , judges from time to time ? Sure let's clog the judiciary with ridicolous lawsuits ! Protecting copyright this way is just an excuse to throw wrenches into the system, chrissake ! And if there's somebody that wants to show the government doesn't work while being comfortably sit in a gov position, that's a republican !

It's incredible ! If an idiot pour hot coffee on self and sues company X for making very hot coffee, it's a ridicolous lawsuit ...but if some big cat cries that somebody maybe attempted to make a copy without subtracting anything to anybody, maybe reducing the profit of the cat of $10 out of 10 billion, but without taking an actual dime from his pocket ....it's NOT a ridicolous lawsuit , it's a matter of the highest importance, it's bloody terrorism ! Illiterate childrens and unemployement ? WHO CARES , it's all about the fat cat and its MAYBE lost $10 !

FUCK YOU. Here's a list of companies that support RIAA and therfore Gonzo. Screw'em.
posted by elpapacito at 2:10 AM on May 16, 2007


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.

What. The. Fuck?!


Yes, indeed. I would actually anticipate that this is somewhat of a shot in the foot for propriatory software vendors: the legal risk that ensues just means that free/open source software is far easier to deal with. After all, how do you know that Perkins in Geriatrics hasn't installed MS Office on that other PC he does work on in the remote hospital? Better hope he doesn't do patient reports on that...
posted by jaduncan at 2:12 AM on May 16, 2007


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.

Wouldn't the company trying to take said pirated software _away_ from the hospital be the ones causing death in this instance? Justice Dept has it backwards?
posted by meowzilla at 2:16 AM on May 16, 2007


Ah. And here I thought "To Hell in a handbasket!" and "Are you mad?" were just colorful metaphors.
posted by loquacious at 2:45 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the ironic thing (ok one of nine thousand ironic things) is, pirated software works identical to the real thing (it is of course, copied), until Windows Genuine Advantage kicks in and shuts off your life support system or something.
posted by mek at 2:49 AM on May 16, 2007


Skeptic says: Actually, reading the official press release, it appears that those criminal measures would apply to counterfeiting, not necessarily copyright infringements. ... But of course, the IT geeks see an intellectual property issue and they immediately only think in terms of software, music and video piracy...

The actual Department of Justice document mentions drugs only in the context "we can seize things for for intellectual property violations just like we can for drug violations."
Forfeiture of property covered by this section, as well as any seizure and distribution of the property and any related judicial or administrative proceeding, would be governed by the procedures set forth in section 413 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. S 853), other than subsection (d) of that section (specific to certain drug-related cases). The procedures for forfeiture proceedings referenced at 2 1 U.S.C. S 8536) apply to criminal forfeiture proceedings under section 506.
It does, however, mention CDs and DVDs specifically several times:
For example, where law enforcement officials raided a facility engaged in production of counterfeit CDs and DVDs, this change allows civil forfeiture of not only counterfeit discs that had already been produced, and the equipment used to produce them, but also such items as blank media or polycarbonate intended for use in producing additional discs.
And I can't help but think the swat team would go ahead and toss the computer into the evidence van with everything else.

CNET says: 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.

It seems they are talking mostly about media and software. I believe they are putting forth the idea, much promoted by Microsoft (think "Genuine Advantage"), that the issue with Piracy is not that they, Microsoft, aren't getting their money. Rather, the issue is that you, the consumer, are getting an inferior, possibly life-threatening product when you acquire pirated software.

In my experience, the opposite has been true. I always try to purchase legitimate software, but I have found myself in situations where, for example, I had five new people joining the office (Oh, did we forget to tell you that we had five new salesmen starting today?) and Microsoft tells me that the only thing they can do for me is send me client licenses in the mail, and that they should arrive in five to seven business days. And there, sitting on the edge of the desk, is a pirated copy of XP that I know I can get working immediately.

Of course, in these situations I always do the right thing, the moral thing, wait the five to seven days for the licenses to arrive. But I can't say I haven't been tempted. (Temptation doesn't equal intent, does it?)
posted by jiiota at 3:44 AM on May 16, 2007


Gonzales example of causing death doesn't actually cause any death. I wouldn't knowingly go to a hospital that didn't pay for it's software because I'd wonder where else they cut corners, however unless the software had an actual kill switch (ooh... didn't pay the license fee, increasing this morphine drip 100X will teach the bastards) it doesn't harm anybody.
posted by substrate at 4:08 AM on May 16, 2007


The actual Department of Justice document mentions drugs only in the context "we can seize things for for intellectual property violations just like we can for drug violations."

Wrong. The whole section on "strengthening penalties" relates to counterfeiting, not copyright, and it does mention pharmaceuticals. Counterfeiting != Copyright Infringement.

Strengthening Penalties for Counterfeiting Offenses that Threaten Public Health and Safety

Some counterfeit goods create serious risks to public health and safety. For example, a counterfeit pharmaceutical may be ineffective or harmful, or a substandard electrical cord bearing a counterfeit UL certification mark may pose a fire hazard. Such threats to health and safety are among the principal factors considered in deciding whether to prosecute intellectual property cases criminally, and the Department's Task Force on Intellectual Property has identified these types of cases as being a prosecution priority. To better reflect the seriousness of IP offenses that pose health and safety dangers and to provide greater deterrence against such crimes, it is appropriate to provide increased penalties for counterfeiters who deal in dangerous products.

Accordingly, section 12(a)(l)-(2) provides enhanced maximum statutory penalties for counterfeiting offenses that endanger public health and safety. The proposal increases the maximum penalties for 5 2320 offenses from 10 to 20 years imprisonment where the defendant knowingly or recklessly causes or attempts to cause serious bodily injury, and increases the maximum penalty to life imprisonment where the defendant knowingly or recklessly causes or attempts to cause death. Both the mens rea standard ("knowingly" or "recklessly") and the level of enhanced penalties are consistent with other existing federal criminal statutes that provide enhanced penalties for offenses resulting in serious injury or death. See, ex., 18 U.S.C. $5 1030(c)(5) (computer hacking) and 1365(a) (product tampering).


Improve your reading skills and avoid hysteria...
posted by Skeptic at 4:10 AM on May 16, 2007


Fair enough, I missed that. My bad. However, if they really did give the example of hospitals using pirated software as an example of how death might be caused, I would say their focus is in the wrong place. {Runs off to improve reading skills}
posted by jiiota at 4:33 AM on May 16, 2007


jiiota, I agree on the "pirated software in hospitals" example. However, DoJ spokespeople talking out of their asses (or journalists misreporting it) isn't exactly breaking news, is it?
posted by Skeptic at 4:48 AM on May 16, 2007


Since when has what the law actually says ever stopped this administration from doing whatever it wants?
posted by fungible at 5:46 AM on May 16, 2007


Improve your reading skills and avoid hysteria...

Hysteria? Nah, more like "Aw, crap, what are these power-crazed scumbags trying to pull NOW?"
posted by Enron Hubbard at 5:47 AM on May 16, 2007


I'm kind of torn on this one. Yes, the legislation is completely insane in trying to criminalize "attempted piracy," because you (where "you" is defined as "bloodsucking RIAA lawyers") could make the argument that by keeping digital media in any unprotected format on your own PC, you're facilitating theft.

On the other hand, the act has hammered the nails into its own coffin by virtue of the section on life imprisonment. It's just too far out there for the average person to grok, and comes across as unbelievable hubris on the part of the industry. This is actually kind of funny, because that's the only part of the bill that isn't incredible hubris by the industry.

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.

That's in contrast to the CURRENT statute, which only allows 20 years of imprisonment. This clause will never fire, because at the point where you've killed someone by reckless endangerment, there's half a dozen other laws you can be prosecuted under before the IPPA shows up.

However, news outlets are on this like white on rice: the headlines and blog commentary about this story are going to read "ZOMG prison for life if you download Fergie!!~!1", and it might actually be enough to make people realize that they're supporting a fundamentally insane, quasi-criminal organization by buying CDs from major labels.

Full disclosure: I work for a company that makes medical software and constantly faces piracy issures, which would ostensibly benefit from this bit of legislature. Fuller disclosure: news of this bill was enough to make me finally pony up to join the EFF.
posted by Mayor West at 6:40 AM on May 16, 2007


TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 5 > § 506 already describes _criminal_ infringment of copyright
a) Criminal Infringement.— Any person who infringes a copyright willfully either—
(1) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, or
(2) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000,
reading (1) we notice that thanks to "or" , the mere reproduction and distribution is a form of criminal infringment.

Here are the proposed changes as per PDF (emphasis/bold inserted by me)
SECTION 4. CRIMINAL INFRINGEMENT
(a) IN GENERAL- Section 506(a)(l) of title 17, United States Code, is amended
(1) by inserting "or attempts to infringe" before "a copyright" and
(2) by striking the comma and "if the infringement was committed" after "18";
(3) by striking subparagraph (A) and inserting "(A) if the infringement was
committed or attempted for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial
gain";
(4) in subparagraph (B), by striking "by the reproduction or distribution" and
inserting "if the infringement was committed or attempted by the reproduction or
distribution"; and
(6) by inserting at the beginning of subparagraph (C) "if the infringement was
committed".


If I got it right the "OR" is gone , therefore the mere reproduction or distribution is no longer
a criminal infringment of copyright per , but becomes just a particular kind of criminal infringement as per text

if the infringement was committed or attempted by the reproduction or
distribution


but I may be splitting hair..any suggestion ?
posted by elpapacito at 6:42 AM on May 16, 2007


I hear that when Gonzales gets you on a jinx, he chops off your hand and won't give it back til you buy him a Coke.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:41 AM on May 16, 2007


Time to start reviewing our extradition treaty with the US, I think.

Probably not. Most countries won't extradite people if what they're charged with isn't illegal in that country. This is why Roman Polanski can live in France.
posted by oaf at 9:00 AM on May 16, 2007


This explains why Gonzales can't remember anything. He has his brain wiped regularly so it doesn't infringe copyright. He'll get a tune stuck in his head and immediately submit himself for electroshock so he's not stealing from the RIAA.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:02 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's my opinion that the prevalence of pirated versions of Adobe software has been a significant factor in the development of their market share. The kids fooling around with Photoshop in high school and creating their own InDesign templates for kicks are the future professionals in the publishing industry. Early familiarity creates a loyal customer down the line. If not for piracy, GIMP and Scribus would be the default tools of micro publishing, much to Adobe's detriment (At this point, I've completely written off Quark in the long-term).
posted by uri at 9:09 AM on May 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


...substandard electrical cord bearing a counterfeit UL certification mark

/opens trenchcoat/

Pssst... Wanna buy an extension cord?
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 9:17 AM on May 16, 2007


If they ever pass this, I am going to go after them for wiretapping me, on the basis that they are making illegal pirated copies of my conversations for distribution without my consent.

If they are going to jail me for piracy, they can enjoy an adjoining cell.

Fuckers.
posted by quin at 10:29 AM on May 16, 2007


"And, yes, counterfeits do cause quite a few deaths. (Think of counterfeit drugs, or aircraft bogus parts...)"

But we continue to buy cheap trash from China like there's no tomorrow.

Gonzales should be closing the doors on China if anything. Piracy rates in the US are actually pretty low.. it's "developing nations" that have the crazy out of control piracy.

Oh, and China.
posted by drstein at 11:05 AM on May 16, 2007


Are you lecturing me on the inappropriate use of the word "in-house" in this particular sentence, or on the claim that Gonzales essentially counseled Enron?

I get it. You don't actually have any idea why we should attach significance to Gonzales's work for V&E, either in the context of copyright reform or anything else. You were just making another brainless "omg Enron" post.

Carry on, then.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 11:28 AM on May 16, 2007


*Sigh* I guess that the slashdottery just won't go away, but I just would like to make it clear once again: the proposal doesn't say anything about life sentences for copyright infringement.
posted by Skeptic at 12:58 PM on May 16, 2007


I am so totally behind this I can’t tell you.

...ok, I’ll tell you. I’m planning on getting some form of model or actor’s card (SAG would be great. It’d take a lot of doing though) and I’m copywriting my image. Any time I’m under surveillance of any kind I’m suing for infringement under the rebroadcasting laws.
(Either that or I get a job with major leage baseball)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:23 PM on May 16, 2007


Put a sock in it, Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America. You should go out and buy a fixed wheel bike, at least they don't let you backpedal.
posted by phaedon at 3:06 PM on May 16, 2007


09-F9-11-02-9D-74-E3-5B-D8-41-56-C5-63-56-88-C0.

For. The. Motherfucking. Win.
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 3:52 PM on May 16, 2007


Oh, Nine. mmm
Eff, Nine! mhmm
posted by nilihm at 5:12 PM on May 16, 2007


Laughable. What's the GOP equivalent of a moonbat?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:45 AM on May 17, 2007


Laughable. What's the GOP equivalent of a moonbat?

An authoritarian? Dick Cheney? That blond bitch, who's name I forget? I don't think there is an equivalent insofar as they're all batshitinsane.
posted by IronLizard at 11:09 AM on May 17, 2007


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