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Italy Approves Jail for P2P Users 533

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-bully-for-them dept.
funkdid writes "Italy has made transferring content via the Internet without the permission of the copyright holder a criminal offence.Those found guilty of the unauthorised distribution of copyright material now face a fine of between 154 and 1032 ($185-1240), a jail sentence of between six months and three years, the confiscation of their hardware and software, and the revelation of their misdeeds in Italy's two national newspapers, La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera."
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Italy Approves Jail for P2P Users

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  • I guess the fascists are back in power these days?
  • by EsbenMoseHansen (731150) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:03PM (#9270117) Homepage
    .. but this is insane by any standard. Only the most extreme economic offenses should be punishable by imprisonment. Fines and compensation can do for the rest.
  • over reaction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Suburbanpride (755823) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:04PM (#9270124)
    I think speeding is a lot worse than sharing files. whats the fine for speeding in italy? i bet its a lot less than $1000 and 6 months in prison. extreme penalties will only drive the shares underground it wont stop them.
  • by mr_mischief (456295) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:05PM (#9270139) Journal
    How long, with computerized production bringing music and movie making power to the desktop like never before and laws like this popping up, will it be before we see free or even Open Source movies.

    I can foresee a possible future with Creative Commons, the GPL, the Free Documentation License, and the BSD license influencing the licensing of droves of hobbyist movies and music. I'm talking much, much more than we see now. Maybe the music and movie companies see this coming. Maybe they want to kill p2p not only because their own work is distributed royalty-free across it, but also because with the software to make competitive products getting better and p2p being a great distribution method, they're afraid of losing market share to upstarts.

    Think of how scared SCO and MS are of Linux.
  • P2P now a crime!? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by lofoforabr (751004) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:06PM (#9270161) Homepage
    Fine... I wonder how the prosecutors will prove that you have been using it. Logs? Logs can be easily forged.
    Anyway, with the advances in P2P technology, it can become impossible to track who is getting what. Just like in Freenet.
  • Re:Newspapers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mocm (141920) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:10PM (#9270220) Homepage
    Ever since Berlusconi is prime minister.
  • by Needanewnick (672293) <lucifersam.lightdeprived@com> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:10PM (#9270225)
    Then that is your written concent.?
  • by Glowing Fish (155236) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:11PM (#9270236) Homepage
    The Prime Minister of Italy got his job in large part because he controls something like 90% of the media there.

    I could imagine that along with his general right wing Agenda, Prime Minister Silvio Whats-his-name might want to protect the interests of media companies. Or rather, the media company, since he is the only one.
  • Enforce it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blamanj (253811) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:11PM (#9270243)
    The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly. -- Abraham Lincoln

    If this law is really so draconian as the discription implies (this is /. after all), then I'd go looking for an intelligent, like-minded DA (or whatever the Italian equivalent is) and have him start arresting people left and right for the slightest violation, as long as it meets the letter of the law.

    I guarantee we'd here the angry screams all the way to N. America and it would be dropped pretty darn fast, I'll bet.
  • middle age? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by golgafrincham (774723) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:13PM (#9270270) Journal
    as stupid as this new "law" is, but for this one:

    and the revelation of their misdeeds in Italy's two national newspapers, La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera.

    they should be kicked out of the european union instantly. i mean, sorry, but this is a punishment from the middle age.
  • by NanoGator (522640) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:14PM (#9270277) Homepage Journal
    ... if consumers were getting a fair shake in the first place. The music industry can sell me an overpriced album without showing me what is in it, but I don't get a satisfaction guaranteed return policy. Therefore, the industry has no economic incentive to strive to make better content.

    Level the playing field before punishing consumers for being the only competitor this industry has.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:16PM (#9270300)
    I'm worried about how the international community is going to react to this law; I could easily see the XXAA's performing "research studies" that show that this form of legislation is effective and desirable, and should be used elsewhere.

    As I see it, one of the most effective ways to counter this is to use once again raise the technological bar of P2P technologies. A system where the user does not know or control what content is stored on their PC (a la Freenet) would eliminate the ability of the legal system to charge an individual for distribution. In order for this to occur, anonymous software systems need to be made more effective and easier to use for the average user.

    I'm sure many people will suggest that I just want to make sure things are easy to steal. The honest answer is that I don't; the same technology used to ensure illicit communications are caught could just as easily be used against legal but undesirable communications. The increased availability of raw information has revolutionized our society (just look at the Abu Gharaib scandal; that could not have happened a decade ago), and any attempts to restrict that movement must be opposed or countered.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:19PM (#9270337)
    Not the fascists, the capitalists. Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy is a huge media mogul! Of course he wants P2P to be illegal.
  • Re:Enforce it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cheeseSource (605209) <snailbarn AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:21PM (#9270354) Journal
    You would think so, but look at drug enforcement in the U.S. Incarceration is at an all time high. In general there are more people in prision in the U.S. per capita than anywhere else in the world; but guess what...

    Nothing has changed.
  • Re:GPL violations? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:25PM (#9270414)
    Hey, does SCO distribute anything in Italy? Maybe we could get THEM put in jail!
  • ok, so... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:26PM (#9270424)
    lets say we all live in italy (just for the sake of arguement).

    Now, lets say I write an email to you, and you think the email is funny, so you forward it to another friend. now guess what, I _own_ you, why? well because you just broke the law, and I could press charges against you for distributing my email (which to me is a valuable copyrighted item that I did not give you permission to distribute)

    The above example is intended to demonstrate how fucking insane this law is. Please mod me up so ignorant people can see it ( i posted anon so i wouldnt whore the karma)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:28PM (#9270435)
    now companies will copyright information about their wrong doings.

    and when people "publish" it in an expose, they get to go to jail.

    watch...it'll happen.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:31PM (#9270465)
    Newspapers, TV, radio, film it isn't at all surprising that he thinks copyright infringment should be considered a criminal act rather than a civil one.

    Oh, and he's being prosecuted for attempting to bribe a judge. He had a law passed which would give him immunity from prosecution while he was in office. It has since been overturned.

    Did I forget to mention that he's the Prime Minister of Italy?

  • Fascists? Why yes, yes they are. They're called Corporations. Of course, they need to assume the mantle of government to get the full effect of socioeconomic fascism.

    Somewhere in Italy, the concept of "the punishment should fit the crime" just took a dump.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:34PM (#9270517)
    where do you propose this imaginary line between private communication and publishing be drawn?
    can i forward to 1 friend and still consider the material to be private communication?
    how about 2 friends?
    5 ? 80? im curious how you think legislation can fairly cover such a subjective area of interpratation
  • Re:Enforce it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geek (5680) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:37PM (#9270549) Homepage
    This is because felons can't vote. If they could then change would be possible, but by arresting and convicting people, thus taking away their constiutional rights you handicap them. If convicted unjustly, or if said law is repealed you are still a felon unable to vote. It's one of the oldest tricks in the book and is why a huge part of the black community is left as a permanent under class unable to effect change.
  • by yintercept (517362) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:40PM (#9270581) Homepage Journal
    Including information in a lawsuit is not a form of publishing. When you wish to expose wrong doing in the press, you can do so by writing your own copy with citations and references.
  • entrapment! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:42PM (#9270609)
    say i take a picture of my art, and then scan that picture to as high resolution as possible, then post it on my webpage under Art, including the upload timestamp etc etc etc

    then, say i send that art of mine to a friend in italy. if he sends it to someone else without asking me first, are they both assumed guilty of this new law?

    if so, someone could draw a farily funny comic, copyright it (put it on their page and hell, even have video of them drawing the original strip), and then email the strip to a few people... within a few days, if it's funny enough, so many people would have "illegally" send AND received copyrighted material without the author's consent, it could bring down, say, the entire senate?

    also, it says "...caugh downloading..." ... what if someone used the excuse "someone hacked my computer and force-downloaded those files" ... or even have a web script that auto-sends certain info to a user... copyrighted material in a cookie file?

    the possibilities are endless.
  • Re:over reaction (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:44PM (#9270645)
    It's as morally incorrect to speed in your car as it is to share and/or copy stuff that isn't yours.

    So whose life am I endangering when I make a mix CD for a friend? And since when did you get the authority and/or wisdom to dictate my morals to me?

  • Overheard (Score:3, Insightful)

    by solarlux (610904) <noplasma&yahoo,com> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:53PM (#9270741)
    (overheard outside a jail-cell)

    Inmate 1: "So what are you in here for?"

    Inmate 2: "I was the CEO of a large media conglomerate. I masterminded a scandal which cheated millions of people out of their retirement servings. So I've gotta serve three years here in the slammer. And you?"

    Inmate 1: "My little brother used my computer to download Crossroads. He's always had a crush on Britney Spears. Of course it was my application of eMule and I had no way to prove it wasn't me. The judge was having a bad day and nailed me with three years.

    Inmate 2: "Damn...."
  • by yintercept (517362) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:57PM (#9270782) Homepage Journal
    Where do we draw lines between manslaughter and murder?

    There are no perfectly clean lines in life. Trying to demand that we have perfectly clean laws before we can exist is absurd. To a large extent, everything depends on intent.

    If I dropped a piano from a fifth floor window and if falls on a passerby, that is manslaughter. If I wait for the ex to walk by, aim and cut the cord...it is murder. The difference between the two has very little to do with either the shape of the piano or the laws of gravity. The difference is intent, and we need courts to decide on intent. Generally intent is clear. Pointing a gun at a person and pulling a trigger is generally a good sign of intent of murder (but it could just mean stupidity). Under cooking eggs benedict and causing a person to die from food poisoning is more indicative of manslaughter, but if the courts find out I purposefully cultured salmonella for the eggs...then I am a murderer.

    Emailing copies of an ebook to friends (so they won't have to pay for the book), there is clear intent on doing the copyright holder wrong.
  • mediocracy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:58PM (#9270788) Homepage Journal
    Italy's government is headed by its monopoly satellite media mogul, Silvio Berlusconi. Copyright infringement is henceforth a political crime. The WTO will shortly be synchronized with the Italian laws, then the US with the WTO, so the US will be offering these innovative government reforms soon enough.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:01PM (#9270819)
    I think speeding is a lot worse than sharing files

    This is because you don't see the big picture. Speeding just kills or injures a few people now and then. File sharing, however, prevents the very rich from continuing to become a lot richer, which is clearly a much more evil offense.

  • A suggestion (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Alexei (548402) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:01PM (#9270828)
    While I haven't done the necessary research, it seems to me that in this age of harsh penalties for copyright violations, it should be possible to launch a very effective campaign against it by pointing out that the penalties are more harsh than many crimes of a greater magnitude.

    For example,

    "Thinking of copying your friend's CD? Think again. According to the policies of [insert pol's name], copying without permission is worse than [manslaugter | embezzlement | whatever fits].
  • by liquidsin (398151) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:03PM (#9270840) Homepage
    Well it sure does come off like a troll. How about you try "My 14 yr old didn't know that was illegal since all of her friends do it too, but since what you're asking for is only ALL OF THE MONEY I'LL MAKE IN THE NEXT 22 YEARS, will you take cash?" How the FUCK can they claim that a few pop songs have done damages to them of over HALF A FUCKING MILLION DOLLARS? This is beyond gross stupidity. Either pay us your next two months worth of salary or we'll take you to court for half a million, and good luck with the lawyer bills. As for your bad analogy, when's the last time YOU got a half a million dollar speeding ticket? You never have? Do you suppose that's because the punishment is supposed to fit the crime?

  • by spamhog (705867) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:05PM (#9270860) Homepage
    This country is used to monumentally bad laws.

    I am not talking just abour principle: it's the logic that just fails victim to ignorance, superficiality, and sloppiness. It gets worse if you add Catholic and Marxist ideological fixations.

    Plus, we have about 120,000 laws on the books - Germany has about 5,000. The result is a quagmire, with lots of laws not being enforced until someone in the judiciary, in some police force, or an enterprising lawyer for some slighted private interest wakes up one morning in the rigth mood.

    According to the new decree, if a piece of freely distributable material, dl'ed from any server anywhere, is copyrighted but not accompanied by an authorization to download, you are in techical violation.

    So, a copyrighted and GPL'ed piece of software is OK, but not if the GPL is not included.

    On the other hand, for a violation to arise, two other confusingly described conditions are needed:
    act must be carried out:

    * for "non-personal use" of the material

    * to obtain profit (intent, not result)

    So, technically,

    -if you dl a piece of GPL'ed software without the GPL, or a freely distributable proprietary SW without a notice allowing you to do so, AND you do so because you need it for work, it may be a violation

    - if you get a GPL-less copy of nmap with the intent to crack something, but not to gain from it, it's legal.

    It usually takes several years before the courts and the various ministries involved unravel the mess.
  • Re:Wrong (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:08PM (#9270887)
    So, just because ONLY half of the people imprisoned in your country for drug crimes, are imprisoned for the possesion of a natural plant product, with no fatal dose, no addictive qualities, and very limited ability to impare a person, things are good? The ONLY serious repercusion of pot use, are the draconian laws that are applied by a bunch of half drunk, right wing assholes, trying to mandate what you can and can not do with your own body. Love your version of "freedom"....free to do what we say, how we say, when we say, and god help you if you are out of step. Have fun in the police state....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:44PM (#9271266)
    It seems to me that issuing these disproportionately large fines and jail sentences for such small crimes (after all downloading and sharing a few mp3s is not going to cost the record companies that much per user doing the downloading and sharing) is silly. IMO if they really wanted to make a difference they should be looking at speeding tickets and parking fines. If each person sharing or downloading infringing material could be issued smaller fines ($50 - $100), without a huge court case, not that many would bother to appeal and it would probably make more of a difference than throwing a few p2p users in jail.
  • by benna (614220) <mimenarrator@g m a i l .com> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:55PM (#9271406) Journal
    Don't be putting down the mafia like that. This is much worse.
  • Re:Enforce it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geek (5680) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @05:07PM (#9271526) Homepage
    That's exactly my point. We don't release people from prison anymore, we beat and bludgeon them for life with their past convictions. It's no wonder repeat offenses are so high when we don't allow them to vote, get a decent job or education. We treat them like animals after having payed their debt giving them no options or hope for improvement. When put in that position, why not re-offend? Either they did their time or the didn't, this "holding it over their heads for life" crap needs to stop.

    We have the highest prison population on Earth and not nearly the population of many other countries. That alone should tell us something is desperately wrong with the system. Yet people escalate further and create "expedited executions" in Texas and Florida. Rather than lock them up and rehabilitate them, we now just write them off entirely and kill them. How great! It's wrong for one man to kill another man but somehow right when 2 million kill one.
  • by omnipotens (567130) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @05:39PM (#9271790) Homepage
    All these countries have laws that put tens of thousands of young people in prison for activities that few civilized people consider to be a crime-- their laws on Marijuana.

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @07:13PM (#9272509) Journal
    How would you know?

    Common sense, 99% of the time.

    Think about it... if you see the full Spiderman2 movie on your favorite peer-to-peer network several weeks before the movie is even out in theatres, it's not that big a stretch to come up with the idea that this might be getting distributed without consent of the copyright holders.

    Of course, the flip side of this is that if you are downloading something called "mary had a little lamb.mov", and it just so _happens_ to be the full Spiderman movie, depending on how good your lawyer is, you just might be able to get off on the principle that you didn't have enough information to have reasonably deduced before you downloaded that the information was copyrighted and being illegally distributed. But depending on the judge, you may find that isn't enough. After all, if you are using a filesharing network where the bulk of the shared information is being distributed without consent of the copyright holder, a critical judge may consider the idea that you could be so completely ignorant of the nature of the content you are downloading to be stretching the truth beyond credulity (especially if there are multiple infringements).

  • Bad headline (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BillyBlaze (746775) <tomfelker@gmail.com> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @07:44PM (#9272814)
    Copyright infringement is illegal and generally bad. But P2P is neither illegal nor inherently bad. The headline equates them: that is bad.

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