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Justice Department Promises Stronger Copyright Punishments 322

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the dancing-the-big-business-polka dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has stated that the Justice department will be getting even harder on copyright infringement, targeting repeat offenders. The new 'Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007' is headed for Congress promising to 'hit criminals in their wallets' hoping to ensure that any 'ill-gotten gains' are forfeited.
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Justice Department Promises Stronger Copyright Punishments

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  • by eln (21727) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:28PM (#19121531) Homepage
    Alberto Gonzalez will forget he ever said this in a month.
    • Re:Nobody panic (Score:4, Interesting)

      by KlomDark (6370) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:29PM (#19121537) Homepage Journal
      That guy still hasn't resigned? Hasn't he already done enough damage?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        It is pretty much proven that he is responsible for firing several government lawyers because they pissed off Republican politicians. That is bordering on criminal. He could be impeached. He could be thrown in jail.

        He has George Bush's backing but so did Rummy and then Boom he was gone.
        • Who gives a shit? Let's just grit our teeth and fucking book it through the next one and a half years. Little reform of the executive will be accomplished as long as the direction from the top continues to be so stubborn in its denial of popular reality—and nothing we've seen since this fucker's first inauguration has shown he can be anything but.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by GreyPoopon (411036)

          It is pretty much proven that he is responsible for firing several government lawyers because they pissed off Republican politicians.

          There were really only two big mistakes: 1) He waited until there was something the Republicans didn't like to fire them, and 2) He wasn't straight with them about why they were being fired. As mentioned elsewhere, it's perfectly normal for an incoming president to completely repopulate these positions with folks that are friendly to their administration, particularly in the

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by flyingsquid (813711)
            As far as all the hullabaloo being raised over the firings now, it's a HUGE waste of taxpayer money with absolutely no purpose other than partisan politics on the part of the Democrats.

            Obviously, it would be naive to believe that politics weren't a factor, but I think there are larger issues at stake: you'll notice that some Republicans have been grilling the hell out of Gonzalez and asking him to resign.

            One issue is reining in Bush's "Imperial Presidency", which acts like it can do whatever it wants

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That guy still hasn't resigned? Hasn't he already done enough damage?


        Why? I've heard that he's doing a "heck of a job"...

    • by metlin (258108)
      Wasn't that guy supposed to have been kicked out a long, long time ago? What's he doing, still in office?
    • Does this mean that the RIAA will quit going after college students who are downloading music for their own use? Does this mean that the RIAA will start going after people who frequent every train and bus stop I see selling home-made compilations of music and movies that are sold on plain jane spindle discs (CD's and DVD's)?

      2 cents,

      Queen B.
  • by Maximalist (949682) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:30PM (#19121559)
    No corruption to be seen here in the DOJ. Move along.
  • It's come to this? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by twilight30 (84644) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:32PM (#19121581) Homepage
    Holy fuck, this is how far he's fallen? He'll be going after the pr0n mavens next! Oh wait ...
  • by darkuncle (4925) <darkuncle@NoSpAm.darkuncle.net> on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:32PM (#19121587) Homepage
    that the scale of problems facing our nation is so trivial that federal law enforcement can afford to waste their time^W^W^Wgive this matter the attention it deserves ...
    • by laffer1 (701823)
      How about they work on something more useful like preventative measures for identity theft. I'm not talking about the consumer level, but rather the banking industry. There are banks I will not do business with because of their track record losing data unencrypted off of UPS trucks, etc. How about retail chains who have employees steal checking accounts and make new checks with their name on it! Fraud is much worse than a little copyright infringement.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:49PM (#19121897)
      Law enforcement in America is not about solving real problems. We've got the world's highest per-capita prison population, and a very large percentage of those people are imprisoned for the vicious crime of -- get this -- possessing plant leaves.

      From the article:

      'He also said he would "hit criminals in their wallets" by boosting restitution and ensuring all ill-gotten gains are forfeited, as well as any property used to commit the crimes.'

      Now... where have we heard that before? Oh yes, that sounds just like the drug laws that let police seize your house if they find you had marijuana inside it.

      Does this mean your computer (and possibly your home) can be taken by government officials when you've pirated a few too many MP3s? Or written DVD-playback software for Linux?

      In any case, this will give law enforcers another tool, like the "War on Drugs" and the "War on Terror," to make their jobs as all-encompassingly powerful and unaccountable as possible.
      • by miskatonic alumnus (668722) on Monday May 14, 2007 @05:36PM (#19122629)
        Now... where have we heard that before? Oh yes, that sounds just like the drug laws that let police seize your house if they find you had marijuana inside it.

        Now, now ... you exaggerate. The drug laws let police seize your house on the mere suspicion that you once had marijuana inside it.
      • by rmckeethen (130580) on Monday May 14, 2007 @06:42PM (#19123371)

        Does this mean your computer (and possibly your home) can be taken by government officials when you've pirated a few too many MP3s? Or written DVD-playback software for Linux?

        Probably -- in my opinion, current asset forfiture laws amount to little more than state-sanctioned theft. Expanding asset forfiture to include intellectual property law just sweatens the pot for government abuse.

        With asset forfiture laws, simply having a large amount of cash in your possession is sufficent evidence for law enforcement to seize property, as demonstrated in this [wikipedia.org] recent case. Neither the police nor the government even needs to prove you are guilty of a crime for the cops to take your stuff; mere suspicion is grounds to grab your house, your car or anything else of value. In 80% of asset forfiture cases, no one is ever even charged with a crime [1] [wikipedia.org]. Better yet -- at least from the government's point of view -- it's up to you to prove that seized assets were not actually obtained through illegal activity. And, as if this weren't enough, if you can't prove in court that your assets weren't used in connection with a crime, guess who gets to pay the bill for the government's attorney costs? Yeap, that's right chief -- that'd be you.

        If I were in law enforcement, I suppose expanding the current asset forfiture plan to include intellectual property infractions would give me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Hell -- considering how many people likely have a least a mix-tape or two, or simply can't provide a receipt for every piece of IP in their possession, law enforcement might as well have a license to print money if this becomes law.

    • Your government believes that intellectual property is important, and for the most part, they're exactly on the money. Part of America's progress as a world power (if not hegemony) is its exports in information.

      Imagine, if you will, that you are leading America in an age where manufacturing has become either trivial and moved offshore, or incredibly complex with the use of robotics and other such things developing nations are not yet good at. What would you do? Intellectual property, even if you don't agr
  • That's all well and dandy for those pirates who actually make money off of piracy- but that's a small percentage of the pirates out there. The grand majority are either making use of what used to be considered fair use: Mix CDs and tapes for friends, backups of media purchased legally, copies for educational use, etc. If you're going to crack down on piracy and hit them in the wallets so to speak, what do you do when the wallet is empty and has never had any cash in it?
    • by jamstar7 (694492) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:48PM (#19121865)

      That's all well and dandy for those pirates who actually make money off of piracy- but that's a small percentage of the pirates out there. The grand majority are either making use of what used to be considered fair use: Mix CDs and tapes for friends, backups of media purchased legally, copies for educational use, etc. If you're going to crack down on piracy and hit them in the wallets so to speak, what do you do when the wallet is empty and has never had any cash in it?

      Significant percentages of their paychecks signed over to the *IAA every month, of course, via garnishments. Likely collected by the government on behalf of the plaintiffs to avoid it getting cancelled out by bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 will wipe out a lotta stuff, but not things like child support, student loans turned over for government collection, and Infernal Revenue garnishments for repayment of taxes. And no, IANAL, but I've had personal experience in this area.

      Is it too late for me to start my own record/movie company and get in on this payday????

    • by Bent Mind (853241) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:55PM (#19121963)
      I wonder which definition General Gonzales is using when he states "hoping to ensure that any 'ill-gotten gains' are forfeited". Is he using the traditional definition where you pay restitution based on proven damages, or is he using the "War on Drugs" definition where all of your personal property is forfeit to the government for sharing a single MP3 file?
    • Hmm... No. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      That's all well and dandy for those pirates who actually make money off of piracy- but that's a small percentage of the pirates out there. The grand majority are either making use of what used to be considered fair use: Mix CDs and tapes for friends, backups of media purchased legally, copies for educational use, etc.

      Of the three things listed - only one has ever been considered (under the law) to be fair use. To wit: making backup copies. (C'mon, handing out mix tapes? That's distribution - that's dis

  • Great thinking, guys (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:33PM (#19121613) Journal
    Because if the $100,000 maximum fine per infringement isn't a strong enough deterrent, maybe $200,000 will do the trick, right?

    In other news, the State of Texas will now kill you *twice* if the crime is *really* serious.
  • ill-gotten gains??? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MooseTick (895855) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:34PM (#19121625) Homepage
    "promising to 'hit criminals in their wallets' hoping to ensure that any 'ill-gotten gains' are forfeited."

    Perhaps I am mistaken, but aren't most copyright infringers/violaters people doing it for their own personal gains. While there are some people who sell copyrighted stuff they don't own, I suspect 99% of the violations are from kids who share/download music that they weren't authorized by the copyright holder to do so.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      Yes, and they got them through unacceptable methods, which is why they're ill-gotten :P Remember, the movie has a value of x dollars, so to the justice department's way of thinking, if you avoided paying those x dollars, you profited by x dollars.
      • by fotbr (855184) on Monday May 14, 2007 @05:06PM (#19122131) Journal
        Just to play devils advocate -- What if its a really crappy movie? One that you, say, value at $5, not the $29.99 the MPAA wants for a new release? For that matter, is the value of a movie higher if its not out on DVD yet? Whats its value if the movie isn't even in the theaters yet? Do they get to bill you for the entire production cost?

        I don't watch many movies, and the ones I do watch, I already own, or I happen to catch them on TV. I'm sure the MPAA will blame it on piracy, but I simply don't buy movies anymore because they're not worth it. Someone starts talking about $CelebrityOfTheWeek I'd have to go google them to figure out who the hell it is, but I don't care enough to.

        Oh, and get off my lawn.
        Young whippersnappers, always causing problems.
        Uphill, snow, both ways...
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Just to play devils advocate -- What if its a really crappy movie? One that you, say, value at $5, not the $29.99 the MPAA wants for a new release?

          IANAL, so elefino. I would guess that the only potential defense would be based on the average price consumers are actually paying. But since the penalties for copyright law are not based on the retail cost of the media or any other measurement of its actual value, the point is moot.

          For that matter, is the value of a movie higher if its not out on DVD yet?

          Afte

  • This just means more RIAA/MPAA asshattery. I'm sure the lawyers are collectively rubbing their hands together in glee.

    -PxB
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:34PM (#19121637)
    Yes, make the punishment harder, so they have a harder punishment than rapists, pedophiles, and murders? -rolleyes-

    Corruption at the Justice Department. The laws are to protect the citizens. The citizens do not want strong copyright punishments. That is what the big media corporations want.
    • they do time the justice department will just make people who copy stuff pay big fines.
    • by DerekLyons (302214)

      The laws are to protect the citizens. The citizens do not want strong copyright punishments. That is what the big media corporations want.

      Wrong again. This citizen wants strong copyright punishments - because he believes in copyright law and intellectual property. Many Slashdoters don't want such protection because they (mistakenly) assume their percieved (I.E. self assumed and created out of thin air) rights trump everyone elses rights.
      • Re:Wrong again. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by QuasiEvil (74356) on Monday May 14, 2007 @05:23PM (#19122411)
        Hrm, not sure to write you off as a troll or respond, but ah, what the hell, I'll respond. Like many of us, I'm not anti-copyright. I firmly support the rights of an artist or inventor to control their work for a limited time in order to profit from it. (For reference, I'm both. I hold two patents, and I'm a published semi-professional photographer in my spare time.) The problem is that copyright was originally a deal struck between the general populous and the creative folk - the deal being that the creators get limited exclusivity in exchange for the eventuality that their creation will fall into public domain. This is the foundation of the US Constitution's core intellectual property provision: "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

        The problem is that the deal has become lop-sided. There's no way that an author's great grandchildren holding the rights to his writings up to 70 years after he died promotes the progress of science or the useful arts. That's just called greed. The author doesn't create more if he knows his distant descendants will still be extorting money for almost a century after he kicks off.

        Arguably, the public domain is also vitally important to progress. Think about all the inventions that would have been lost or the massive inflation of prices (due to royalties) if patents were essentially perpetual as well. Think about historians in 100 years, trying to figure out if they can reprint a photo out of fear that someone, somewhere will show up and demand royalties because the photo was taken by their great-great-grandfather. It's already a nightmare figuring out reproduction rights.

        The system is broken, and stronger penalties won't fix it. Existing punishments are adequate if enforced against the real problem - large scale commercial piracy. Sane copyright terms, in conjunction with media companies not treating customers like felons, would be a good start.
      • I'll trade you strong and enforced (C) protection if you'll give me DRM and rootkits.
        -nB
      • by Mr2001 (90979)

        Many Slashdoters don't want such protection because they (mistakenly) assume their percieved (I.E. self assumed and created out of thin air) rights trump everyone elses rights.

        I don't want such "protection" because I don't believe anyone deserves veto power over another person's free speech. You have no right to stop me from saying a sequence of words just because you said the same sequence of words earlier. It's not about my rights being more important than yours, it's about your alleged "right" to prevent copying of numbers being ridiculous, unnecessary, and stifling innovation.

    • by Kjella (173770)
      Yes, make the punishment harder, so they have a harder punishment than rapists, pedophiles, and murders? -rolleyes-

      I wouldn't worry [theregister.co.uk]. I'd worry more that once you pass the "life without parole" limit, you've really nothing to lose. Same with economics, I don't care if I owe a million dollars, ten million dollars, hundred million dollars or whatever, I'd never able to pay it back. Either I get relief through bankrupcy or I'd never officially work again, just taking what I'd get from social security and otherw
  • What is an IP law? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KlomDark (6370) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:35PM (#19121641) Homepage Journal
    They're still up to their bullshit. There are copyright laws, there are patent laws, there are trademark laws. There is no such thing as an Intellectual Property law. That's a big blanket that the megacorps want to pull over our eyes in order to gain more power. Taken individually, copyright, patent, and trademark laws have acceptable checks and balances built into them (Except the ones that have been stroked by Mickey Mouse). But what they're after is a true Intellectual Property law that has no balancing of Megacorp vs. Common Good. They want it to be all Theirs, and no Ours.

    Be careful, whenever some politician blabbers on about "Intellectual Property", it really means they are in bed with the Megacorps and want to muddy the issue in order to set some bastardized legal precedent on the sheep-like public who won't notice a thing until the water boils.
    • I like the mixed metaphor!

      hmmmmmm boiling sheep.
    • by radtea (464814) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:52PM (#19121925)
      There is no such thing as an Intellectual Property law. That's a big blanket that the megacorps want to pull over our eyes in order to gain more power.

      And they are doing a fine job of it, with the uncritical repetition in this article of curious notion of "intellectual property thieves".

      Intellectual "property" is a terrible metaphor. "Property" is a legal machine that is designed to enforce capture of negative externalities. That is, when you own property, you are responsible for its upkeep. Without property rights you could dump your wastes or graze your sheep on the commons, and not ever pay any costs for that. The notion of property, first and foremost, forces you to pay your own way on your own property.

      Intellectual "property" on the other hand is a legal machine that is intended to enforce capture of positive externalities: good things that happen to other people because of your work. [ssrn.com]

      Patents, trademarks and copyright are sufficiently unlike property that any attempt to reason about them using property metaphors is doomed to failure from the outset. It is a tad disturbing that this failed metaphor has become so much a part of the popular legal consciousness that even the Attorney General is able to remember it.

      This is not to say that individuals cannot have rights in patents, trademarks and copyrights. But those rights are not ownership rights to property, and violating those rights is not theft.
      • Intellectual "property" on the other hand is a legal machine that is intended to enforce capture of positive externalities: good things that happen to other people because of your work. [ssrn.com]

        Patents, trademarks and copyright are sufficiently unlike property that any attempt to reason about them using property metaphors is doomed to failure from the outset.


        I have to disagree. Debates about intellectual property, in my experience, typically regress to the very same questions and arguments about property
    • There are copyright laws, there are patent laws, there are trademark laws. There is no such thing as an Intellectual Property law.

      Well, true, in a sense, but I think the reason people use that term is ... WHOA, dude, what the hell are you sitting on? Does that thing actually go into your ...*gasp* Doesn't that hurt?
  • Penalties? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by griffjon (14945) <.GriffJon. .at. .gmail.com.> on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:38PM (#19121699) Homepage Journal
    FTA:

    "said he would "hit criminals in their wallets" by boosting restitution and ensuring all ill-gotten gains are forfeited, as well as any property used to commit the crimes."

    So, what if no one's profiting off of the infringement?
    • by lawpoop (604919)

      "said he would "hit criminals in their wallets" by boosting restitution and ensuring all ill-gotten gains are forfeited, as well as any property used to commit the crimes." So, what if no one's profiting off of the infringement?

      Sounds to me like any copyrighted material you download will be considered profit, and even if it isn't, they will still confiscate your computer, router, etc. Maybe even your iPod and stereo!

      If they can find a profit anywhere in the chain of stuff you may have downloaded or shared, they may consider your stuff part of the crime.

    • >>"...as well as any property used to commit the crimes"

      It looks as though they are trying to make it so they can seize and keep the computers, ipods, televisions, etc.. of anybody using pirated material.

      This is similar to the tactic used in the so called "war on drugs". They just seize your ill gotten gains and don't even worry about getting a prosecution. In the case of drugs they can keep your stuff without even getting a conviction.
  • Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:40PM (#19121731)
    This is the second part of the badness that comes from criminalizing copyright infringement. (The first thing was the shift of the cost of prosecution from the copyright holders to the taxpayers.)

    Now that copyright infringement is criminal, politicians, attorneys and law enforcement can all cry for even more money, to be "tough on crime". Plus, since I'd guess most everyone over age ten in the US has infringed someone's copyright (downloaded something, photocopied without permission, duped a video tape, etc), it becomes yet another crime you can be charged with if someone in power decides you need to be arrested.

    What we really need is copyright reform.
  • "Ill Gotten Gains" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:40PM (#19121739) Homepage Journal
    Soooo that means teh average person copying a movie that they have already gone to see, or a piece of software they cant afford anyway and just want to play with, wont get a fine at all since they didnt make any profit.

    Cool. That is the way it should be.
    • No, they will seize *all* of your money and property as *alleged* 'ill gotten gains'. Then it will be up to you to fight a long and expensive legal battle to prove otherwise.
    • by thegnu (557446)
      You must be thinking of the other land of the free.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rakarra (112805)
      Did you get to watch a movie without paying for it? Use a piece of software without paying for it? That is the ill-gotten gain right there.

      Now on the other hand, if I got to fine the MPAA after I watched Catwoman, then I might be in favor of it.

  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:41PM (#19121751) Homepage Journal
    America was founded on piracy of intellectual property, after all, starting with textiles, and extending to many engineering marvels.

    I for one miss the days of a single 17 year patent life, and a copyright that ended after 21 years.

    And I say that as a published (paid) writer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TodMinuit (1026042)
      Can someone explain why copyrights and patents should expire? I'm being serious.
      • Can someone explain why copyrights and patents should expire? I'm being serious.

        In exchange for governmental protection of your monopoly for a period of time, you will release the material to society as a whole.

        That way people can FREELY build upon your work and society, as a whole, can further benefit.
      • by iamacat (583406)
        Because we accept unnatural restrictions on consensual private activity between two people (sharing a file). A law should be beneficial to society at large and the benefit of just being a consumer or seller's terms just doesn't cut it. A reasonable benefit is to be able to use the work free of cost and to sell derivative works within our active lifetime.
      • by sobachatina (635055) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:56PM (#19121981)
        The goal was for the enrichment of society.

        The idea was that the creator would have a monopoly on the creation long enough that they would be motivated to do the work.

        After that the creation was turned over to society so anyone could build on it.

        The original meaning changed somehow so now instead of being a temporary, governmanet-granted monopoly even the general populace thinks that it is possible to OWN an idea.

        This is a recent historical event but has somehow become so pervasive that most people I talk to actually believe that the creator of a work has a moral right to control that work for the rest of time. That has never been the case and shouldn't be now.

        We should fix the laws so that they enforce the original intent. Copyright and Patents should be enough motivate creators to create- not to hold society for ransom.
        • by roman_mir (125474)
          I want to own ideas, can I have yours?

          In any case it seems that even owning property in country where I live (Canada) is impossible. The property taxes a a constant reminder of that (I would pay user fees to services I use though,) if we can't own property how the hell can we ever even consider owning such nebulous things as ideas.
      • by Xemu (50595) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:59PM (#19122023) Homepage
        Can someone explain why copyrights and patents should expire? I'm being serious.

        Because patents often are about physical phenomena which can't be duplicated, and because "Inventing" is in a sense not creating something which did not exist, but rather being really smart and be the first one to figure something out.

        Take fire, for example. Imagine someone having a patent on using fire for cooking. That would be a rich family by now, huh? Or what if my ancestors had filed a patent on using a round device called a wheel to reduce friction.

        Todays patents on compressed sound and video (aka mp3 or dvd) are more advanced, but they still deal with something which is essentially a naturally occuring phenomenon just waiting to be discovered and used.

        The purpose of patents should be to reward the inventor/discovery so society can benefit from more inventions, but the reward should not be so large the inventor benefits more than society does.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by The_Wilschon (782534)
        Partly so that after the creator of the work is dead, the work doesn't also die. If the copyright never expires, then nobody can use it without the copyright holder's permission. If the copyright holder is dead, then he/she can't give permission. Of course, this is ignoring the possibility of transfer of copyright to the estate of the creator.

        Also, any creative work which is worthwhile will become known to a large portion of the population. In some sense, it becomes part of our culture. There is an i
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by WillAffleckUW (858324)
        Can someone explain why copyrights and patents should expire? I'm being serious.

        For the reasons they always were supposed to expire:

        A. To stop hereditary dynasties founded on the work of others, as opposed to the sweat of one's brow (note that if you died back then your spouse and children kept the rewards until expiry).

        B. To promote the common good and acceleration of knowledge within society - just because someone invented the fork (an American invention), that shouldn't mean someone else can't invent a f
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Chosen Reject (842143)
        First, you explain why they shouldn't. Seriously, the constitution says, "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." Copyrights (and patents) are a man-made thing. Previous to copyrights, if you came up with an idea and didn't want anyone else to use it, then you wouldn't ever publish it*. However, the founding fathers knew that it would be beneficial to get people to publis
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      America was founded on piracy of intellectual property, after all, starting with textiles, and extending to many engineering marvels.

      So what? A goodly chunk of America's economy was once based on slavery - including both chattel bondage and debt bondage. Even beyond that, when the country was founded the franchise was limited to a minority of citizens.

      Since they are thing we had when the country was founded, shall we roll back the laws that have corrected those abuses as well?

  • by iamacat (583406) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:44PM (#19121801)
    Justice department to crack down even harder on murders

    There are already ample penalties for copyright infringement and ways to shut them down. In fact, it makes no different for the guilty party if he is fined for $100M or $1B, since he will not be able to pay it off anyway. In the meantime, United States has a ridiculously high murder rate compared to other developed countries. Do any politicians up for election in 2008 care to address that? Like you know, stop sales of guns to mentally ill?
    • by cdrguru (88047)
      1. Mentally ill people - those that have been declared legally "mentally ill" - can't buy guns at gun stores today.
      2. Criminals buy guns on the street, not from legally-controlled gun dealers. Can't stop it without rounding up all the criminals. You can see how much success that is having.
      3. Declaring someone "mentally ill" is a pretty complicated process, at least as far as getting them legally committed to an institution. Back 50 years or so ago, it was much simpler. The police could arrest someone that was
      • by iamacat (583406)
        1,2. RTFNEWS

        3. Declaring someone mentally ill doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing state. There is nothing wrong with having a policeman and a psychiatrist present at a gun permit interview and judging that person to be of sound mind, calm disposition and having a legitimate use for the kind of gun they are planning to buy as well as skills to use and safeguard it properly (the last would do something to address black market). If they fail, they walk away with a pepper spray.

        I realize that this is a challen
  • by Ambush Commander (871525) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:49PM (#19121883)
    I recently read an article on the New Yorker [newyorker.com] discussing how the United States strong-arms other countries into adopting our own stringent Intellectual Property laws. It just goes to show the continued stance of our government in this area of policy, a stance that is not going to change any time soon. ::sigh::
    • As the U.S. bleeds itself deeper and deeper into debt to the rest of the world (e.g., China), you have to wonder how long it will be able to keep the arm-twisting going. It's sure to be a Big Surprise to us when other countries start to notice that the bully isn't as big as he used to be. They never do see it coming.
  • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:50PM (#19121901) Homepage
    Doesn't Gonzalez realize that this sort of corporate pandering won't happen now that we have Democrats in charge of congress?
    • by whoever57 (658626)

      Doesn't Gonzalez realize that this sort of corporate pandering won't happen now that we have Democrats in charge of congress?
      If you think that Nancy Pelosi won't support corporations in Hollywood, you are sadly mistaken.
      • Sadly, you are probably correct. The only difference between Republican and Democrat politicians seems to be who they owe their favors to. The ones left holding the bag are U.S. citizens.
  • Holding those accountable who lie to Congress during sworn testimony about subversion of the Justice Department for political gain... or chasing after a kid that downloaded some mp3 files by (cough, wheeze) Metallica.
  • "These crimes, as we all know, also have a direct impact on our economy, costing victims millions of dollars and, if left unchecked, diminishing entrepreneurship," Gonzales said in announcing the bill.

    As we all know? As opposed to "As some purport", or more neutrally "As some claim"?

    Thats a loaded statement to not include any data pertaining to the actual statement itself. Last I checked percentage of convictions has little to do with the impact of the crime itself. Shouldn't one be looking at those convictions and wonder why 43% of cases turn out
    with NO conviction? That seems like a pretty high percentage of total cases.

    Wouldn't a more useful action be to find out why almost half of all cases do not re

  • in one corner, well-moneyed corporate interests with lawmakers and enforcers in their pockets

    in the other corner, legions of poor, borderless, highly motivated, technically astute, and media loving teenagers who couldn't give one rats ass about the bloated overreaching joke that copyright law in this country has become, because it is way beyond speaking to them in the language of right and wrong

    copyright law is WAY beyond protecting the artist's rights when you can't play "happy birthday" on a piano without the need to pay someone/ get permission, and mickey mouse will NEVER be in the public domain. the idea is to strike a balance between the common good and the rights of the artist. but moneyed middle men have stuck a big fat finger on that scale, and it's permanently imbalanced. in other words, copyright law is broken, corrupt, insoluble, dead

    poor teenagers versus corporate interests. it's not even a blink of an eye who will obviously win: the teenagers

    the future of ip law in the usa is china: lip service played to the idea at official levels, some high profile demonstration busts that don't change a thing, and rampant complete ignorance of and ignoring of ip law on the street

    copyright is dead. corporations killed it by not playing fair and only looking for some more $ at the expense of our common cultural riches. you can't measure common cultural riches on the corporate ledger, so it never got a fair reckoning in the boardroom. the result: complete disconnect between law and reality

  • In related news... (Score:2, Informative)

    by krunoce (906444)
    The #2 man in the DOJ, Paul McNulty, just submitted his resignation to Gonzales.
  • > 'hit criminals in their wallets' ...with an electric shock machine.
  • Fair is fair (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Intron (870560) on Monday May 14, 2007 @05:17PM (#19122299)
    I think there's nothing wrong with getting tough on illegally using IP as long as it is extended to include my personal information. I should be able to sue Exxon-Mobil when they "file share" my data with Chase Manhattan or Citigroup. My life is my performance art and all description of it is my copyright. Let's ask the AG what he plans to do about TJX illegally sharing the data of thousands of their customers on the internet.
  • Judging from his performance in Congress recently, Gonzales is highly inept at best or a key player in an administration conspiracy to subvert the political process in this country to the benefit of the neocon movement at worst. Possibly both -- if the administration were more choosy about the credentials of the people it appoints then perhaps their conspiracies would have more chance of success. But I guess when you're a C student you tend to hang with similar slackers...

    Anyway, I'm sure Alberto would li

  • by mpapet (761907) on Monday May 14, 2007 @06:49PM (#19123473) Homepage
    I'm really not sure where all the moral outrage is coming from because this is the consequence of an ownership society where privatization is blindly assumed to be, not just good, but the best thing.

    This kind of posturing and eventual law enforcement activity where they'll perp-walk someone for some kind of copyright violation will get votes and most importantly raise campaign contributions.

    I suspect more than a few slashdotters think that "the private sector does a better job at most things than the government.." The private sector is maximizing their revenues by enforcing its ownership rights and NOW it's a problem?

  • by dircha (893383) on Monday May 14, 2007 @06:52PM (#19123497)
    ...you're pretty damn pathetic.

    This isn't popular to say on Slashdot now that the abolish-copyright stance has become part of the "groupthink gospel", but I am fed up with largely a particular demographic whining about copyright law and its enforcement. Sure, complain about its excesses, but when in practice it most of the time amounts to complaining about being caught downloading the latest Spiderman movie from your dorm room, all I have to say is: grow up, put up, or shut up.

    While copyright infringement is not theft, your average media consumer has as much excuse for knowingly downloading a song or movie in violation of copyright law as he or she does for taking a candybar from the supermarket without paying for it: none at all.

    And there is similarly no excuse for not being willing to accept the consequences of those actions, They know it is illegal, yet still do it. Maybe they style themselves as practicing civil disobedience? Then deal with the consequences of those actions. The more out of line the punishment, the more they should relish it, because that is how civil disobedience makes its case. But they don't, because they aren't. It's completely transparent.

    Everything from the demographic, to the logic, to the motives, to the actions of these people screams one thing, and it is blatantly obvious to the rest of society: casual copyright infringing consumers want content but are not willing to pay for it. Take just for example that there are now many (perhaps too many) services out there offering legally downloadable music, DRM-FREE, for reasonable prices (reasonable to anyone working hard to earn a living).

    Not to mention, abolishing copyright would practically impose significantly upon the rest of society. Prices of movies in theatres would be several times what they are now. Consumers wouldn't be able to buy their favorite movies on DVD. Studios would need to keep them running in theatres as long as possible. Entering a theatre would be more security intensive than boarding an airplane. You would probably have to sign a contract when entering. And yes, mainstream content is mainstream in large part because a great many people like it. These same people think that your svelt black metal and electronica-subgenre is crap. It isn't a conspiracy and no one is a "sheep" for listening to music that makes them happy. Grow up.

    You and the artists you like are free to produce as much public domain or copyleft content as you wish. No one is stopping you. No. No, they are not.

    Thank you.
  • by rossz (67331) <ogre&geekbiker,net> on Monday May 14, 2007 @07:17PM (#19123743) Homepage Journal
    The Feds first obtained the power for asset seizures because they were going after some really evil drug lords. The American people went along with this because it was true, the Feds were definitely going after some really evil (as in kill the entire family as an example) bastards.

    Then the Feds asked for more power, because they needed to get the supply chain, and grabbing a few Ferraris and yachts of really rich cocaine suppliers would help. The American people went along with this, too.

    Then the Feds just assumed they had the power to grab the assets of the dealers. The American people didn't really think anything of this. After all, these drug dealers were bad people and besides, they were shooting up parts of the city in turf wars, so let the Feds grab the drug dealer BMWs with the really ugly custom wheels.

    Then the Feds began seizing the assets of the drug users. Most Americans were under the impression the drug users were strung out heroine and crack junkies, so didn't give a shit. Only now Mr and Mrs Average American are learning otherwise, because their teenage son got pulled over in mom's car, and he had a joint on him, and the police are keeping the car.

    I predicted this would happen at the very first stage. I was right. Even if the Feds swear up and down on a stack of bibles that they're only going to use this power on the big time commercial piracy operations, I won't believe them. Maybe today they mean it, but what about next tomorrow?

    Fuck the government. They will ALWAYS abuse even the smallest amount of power. That's why we have to have the tightest possible controls on them as possible. If making it hard for them to abuse their job has the side affect of making it hard for them to do their job, so what. My rights and freedom are THAT FUCKING IMPORTANT.
  • Good point: Globally this may be the straw that breaks the back of the USA
    corporatist government strangle hold on IPR, patents .... I am confident that
    China, Russia, India ... others will eventually tell the USA, EU, UN, WorldBank ...
    and the International Court to go fuck themselves with their dead-battery dildo.

    But,it ain't like the USA has been able to figure anything out 12 months or 12
    years out. Clueless courts, diplomacy, domestic policy, government ... such an
    incompetent slime-ball pitiful gang of politicians have not been collected together
    in one government since the Mao-China's "Cultural Revolution", Stalin's Purges,
    Hitler's Perfect Aryan Religion ....
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday May 14, 2007 @10:30PM (#19125439)
    might as well make another huge swath of them criminals.

    Honestly, it seems like they think of ways to make folks criminals and disenfranchise them.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro..." -- Hunter S. Thompson

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