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Bush Signs Law Targeting P2P Pirates 727

BlakeCaldwell writes "CNet is reporting that President Bush signed into law the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act (previously-reported). A lawbreaker can land in jail for up to three years for distributing a single copy of a prerelease movie on the Internet. The MPAA's president Dan Glickman applauded the move, stating he wanted to 'thank the congressional sponsors of this legislation for their strong advocacy for intellectual property rights.'"
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Bush Signs Law Targeting P2P Pirates

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  • by Verteiron ( 224042 ) * on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:24AM (#12370608) Homepage
    I was going to make some cynical, sarcastic comment on this but... damn, what's the point?

    With everything going on today we're going to hunt down... filesharers? And sentence them like they've committed assault. Right.

    The guiding hand of corporate bribes, excuse me, contributions, was never more obvious.
  • Good Government (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RealBorg ( 549538 ) <> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:27AM (#12370657) Homepage
    always gives their citizens plenty of reasons to feel guilty so they try to keep a low profile and do not risk civil unrest or a revolution against a corrupted system. Schon Tacitus wusste: Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges. The greater the degeneration of the kingdom, the more of its laws.
  • Time Shift? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by maotx ( 765127 ) <maotx&yahoo,com> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:29AM (#12370678)
    From S.167RH, Title I, Sec 103. [] which can be found under the Text of Legislation:

    a. Criminal Infringement

    1. IN GENERAL- Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, if the infringement was committed:

    C. by the distribution of a work being prepared for commercial distribution, by making it available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, if such person knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution.

    So much for distribution of television shows online. Almost all of them will eventually release a DVD of the series (commercial distribution) therefore anyone posting last nights tv show as a torrent will be a criminal.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:30AM (#12370695)
    Since mr. GW Bush is a known pirate [], I suggest the DOJ investigate him first. Any other course of action would make a mockery of the supposed blindness of lady justice.
  • Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mattmentecky ( 799199 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:32AM (#12370731)
    Isnt just downright amazing how out of sync sentencing is for certain crimes?

    Take for example Massachusetts Sentencing Guidlines []. And compare it to this new federal law that was signed.
    Larceny on a scale of $10,000-$50,000 can get an offender 36 months (in some cases, less!) than someone breaking copyright on a *single file*. This means that Person A can walk into a physical record store and almost wipe the store clean via theft, and get sentenced the same as Person B who shares one copyrighted song online.

    That is just amazing to me.
  • Re:Not that bad... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by John Harrison ( 223649 ) <johnharrison@gmail. c o m> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:34AM (#12370740) Homepage Journal
    So you think there is a legitimate need to distribute movies before they are released?

    My concern with the bill is the sections regarding commercial content. You can skip things that are offensive to you but not ads? What about the paid placement of Marlboro ads in Superman II? Would skipping that be illegal still?

    In any case it is interesting to see how the responses by the Slashbots vary depending on how the headline is written. When these services are mentioned as "censorship" everybody goes nuts about how evil they are. When the story is posted as being about giving you more "freedom" the same idiots praise it. It would be interesting to compare the last few Clearplay/Cleanflicks stories and look for inconsistencies in the attitudes of individual posters based on the headlines.

    Sheep! All of them!

  • I WAS a Bush supporter...but this bugs the doo doo out of me. Of all the things that are going on in the country why has this become a priority? What about gas prices Mr. President? What about the healthcare fiasco Mr. President? What about all these children that are being kidnapped and nurdered by sex offenders Mr. President? What about the crappy education system in which our children score well below the rest of the world in nearly every category Mr. President? Maybe I expect too much for our elected concentrating on things that will make life better for Americans, and for the rest of the world.
  • by iammrjvo ( 597745 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:34AM (#12370752) Homepage Journal

    This piece of legislation has a particularly interesting act in it called the Family Movie Act []. The legislation allows companies to market filters and equipment to skip over parts of a DVD. The idea is that people who don't care to see the more raunchy side of Hollywood can skip the profanity and sex. (Yes, I don't want the profanity and sex in the movies that I watch. I've heard all of the jokes, so let the rants begin.)

    This part of the legislation was promoted by ClearPlay [], a company that distributes filters and DVD players that can utilize the filters.

    Not only do I like the ability to skip the raunchy stuff, but I like the fact that this promotes the idea that people can have control over the content that they pay to license. Hollywood considers the filters to be an "edit" of the original movie, but since the original DVD isn't altered, I don't see any difference between this and manually skipping content. It empowers the user and I like that. The implications are broader than just "Family Friendly Movies."
  • by jobsagoodun ( 669748 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:37AM (#12370789)
    f you break American law (e.g. this one) and live in any country (like the UK) which has an extradition treaty with the USA you can be brought to America and charged with the crime.

    Absolute Bollocks.

    Extradition laws apply only to laws which are punishable with jail sentences > 1 year in both countries. Generally this means serious offences like murder, abduction etc.

    Now, once the UK starts banging people up for swapping movies you may have a point...

  • by paronomasia5 ( 567302 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:39AM (#12370825)
    you can steal hundreds of millions from shareholders and get a slap on the wrist. enron, adelphia, worldcom, dot-bubble, arthur anderson, xerox, tyco, haliburton, qwest, health south. where are the crack downs on these villains who steal real money from citizens? this doesnt even count the recent plague of ceo's stealing 10-20-30 million dollar salaries while golfing.

    but if you duplicate binary bits that happen to form images when passed through an appropriate transmogrifier you go to jail for 3 years.

    this people in this country are fooked! the only way to 'get ahead' in the new economy appears to be to break the rules and go for a winner take all one-time-fuck-everyone. if you want to survive, fuck your shareholders, fuck some government contract, fuck some competitor, send someone to die for oil, get a hundred million bucks, and then you're part of the "other half", you can live safely in your guarded conclave. sit at home, programming, sharing bits==go to jail.

    its whistleblower versus pistol holder, demograns republicats one party system, they all gain from larger corporate subsidies.
  • by drgonzo59 ( 747139 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:41AM (#12370851)
    That's what I said, what the fuck does the family have to do with the movie industry. Heck, the bill had to pass, it had the word "family" in, nobody wants to vote against family. The lawmakers are just as dumb and ridiculous as the people who elected them. How exactly is my family now more entertained than before? Why don't they add national security in there too, it would have passed much faster.

    Or, maybe the bill is self-referencial and the whole process of trying to stop people from sharing or distributing by threats is entertaintment for the whole family.

    How about I plant copies of a pre-release on somebody's computer the let the feds come and jail him for 3 years? Don't like your neighbour -put the latest peace of crap from Hollywood in the shares on his windows 98 machine and watch him burn. Can you imagine going to jail for distributing "Big Momma's House" - fun times!

  • by atlantafatmike ( 853223 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:41AM (#12370857) Homepage
    I wish broadcasters and movie studios would learn from P2P instead of trying to eliminate it. I do not fit inside the typical demographic model they have for programs. I have a 55+ hr a week job and a 1 year old. I usually cannot watch my favorite shows when they are scheduled, and it is a real pain to get a babysitter so I can go to a theatre just to get mad at little teeny-bopper punks running in and out of the theatre and talking all the time. What I want is non-commercial TV on demand and first release movies that I can watch at home without waiting 4-8 months for the DVD. I will pay $100 - $150 a month for this type of service. They need to wake up to a missed financial opportunity.
  • by Evro ( 18923 ) * <> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:48AM (#12370942) Homepage Journal
    I don't know how the word "pirate" came to be associated with the downloading of movies or songs, but it makes no sense in this context. A pirate is someone who boarded other ships on the high seas and robbed them of their treasures. Providing a movie or song for download without authorization may not be ethical, but it's not piracy. By calling it such the MPAA/RIAA have managed to raise the perceived level of badness by several orders of magnitude.

    The bill is not targeting "p2p pirates," but rather people who put movies up for download before release (which, really, they should be hunting down the people who got access to the movies in the first place). Calling them pirates implicity plays into the ??AA's game of criminalizing anything that doesn't net them a profit.
  • Re:Not that bad... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WaterBreath ( 812358 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:52AM (#12370994)
    It would be interesting to compare the last few Clearplay/Cleanflicks stories and look for inconsistencies in the attitudes of individual posters based on the headlines.

    Make sure you keep track of who is commenting, and of whether each individual's comment is "positive" or "negative". I suspect that there is an explanation other than just herd mentality. (Though that probably is a factor in some cases.)

    I suspect that most of the people that comment, or at least that start longer threads of comment, are people that feel strongly one way or the other. And depending on the wording of the headline, you may be inspired to comment or you may not, depending on which side of the fence you're on.

    Me, there are two things that most often inspire me to comment: If I am upset in some way by the post or article itself, or if I am upset in some way by a comment in the discussion thread. "Hear, hear!" type posts don't contribute much unless they are long on explanation, and I seldom check a thread before one of those is up already, so I don't usually bother. The remaining portion of my posts are inspired by a void of information in an article or a comment that I feel I can fill.

    As far as this specific issue is concerned, no it's not ideal. I still hope for copyright lifetimes to be reformed someday. I still think it's kind of retarded that ads can't be skipped. (I do understand the motivation--if ads can be skipped, advertisers are literally throwing money away for those people--but personally, I think that's part of the risk of doing business.) I also think that the 3-year jail sentence is ridiculous. To put it in perspective, what's your state's normal sentence for a drunk driver? Ours is less than 3 years, I can tell you that. And I think drunk driving is a heckuva lot worse than selling a prerelease movie.

    But it could have been worse. Recent efforts at undermining all P2P activity have failed. Universities don't need to release the identity of students on their networks to the **AA lawyers. And so on.

    We won some battles and we lost some on this bill. But there is yet hope to win the war.
  • Torrents? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:10AM (#12371235)
    How would this apply to bittorrents? Is seeding considered distributing?
  • Re:Skewed Justice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by brontus3927 ( 865730 ) <edwardra3&gmail,com> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:17AM (#12371333) Homepage Journal
    When a murder gets 12 months, its because the charge was pled down to something like voluntary manslaughter with the minimum sentence (18 months IIRC), and get time off for good behavior.

    shall be imprisoned not more than 3 years, fined under this title, or both;

    Even assuming someone was sentenced to the full 3 years (at which case the murder-filesharer analogy breakes down) unless they tried to escape or do something else monumentally stupid, they'd get out early, also. On top of that, I'd bet 90%+ of the cases are referred to the federal pre-trial intervention program where they get 18 months of probation and walk away with a clean criminal record.

  • Re:Good Government (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rxmd ( 205533 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:17AM (#12371334) Homepage
    Tacitus was a clever guy, all in all, when it came to judging the state of the Roman empire [which is why I keep him in my sig ;)]... Here's the quote from its original context, any parallels to present times are, of course, completely incidental:
    Tacitus, Annals, 3.27 []: After Tarquin's expulsion, the people, to check cabals among the Senators, devised many safeguards for freedom and for the establishment of unity. Decemvirs were appointed; everything specially admirable elsewhere was adopted, and the Twelve Tables drawn up, the last specimen of equitable legislation. For subsequent enactments, though occasionally directed against evildoers for some crime, were oftener carried by violence amid class dissensions, with a view to obtain honours not as yet conceded, or to banish distinguished citizens, or for other base ends. Hence the Gracchi and Saturnini, those popular agitators, and Drusus too, as flagrant a corrupter in the Senate's name; hence, the bribing of our allies by alluring promises and the cheating them by tribunes vetoes. Even the Italian and then the Civil war did not pass without the enactment of many conflicting laws, till Lucius Sulla, the Dictator, by the repeal or alteration of past legislation and by many additions, gave us a brief lull in this process, to be instantly followed by the seditious proposals of Lepidus, and soon afterwards by the tribunes recovering their license to excite the people just as they chose. And now bills were passed, not only for national objects but for individual cases, and laws were most numerous when the commonwealth was most corrupt.
  • Re:Not that bad... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:19AM (#12371359) Homepage Journal
    The difference is you know about the part of the movie you find objectionable in the first case, and are being presented with a "version of" a movie in the second case without knowing what's been removed and how it relates to the rest of the film and what the artist was trying to say.
  • Re:Not that bad... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:45AM (#12371733) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry, but your comments don't actually address the issue. Just because a good filmmaker made a film where something was clearly implied but not shown on screen, someone editing an already made film unconnected with the artist without additional footage will not likely (a) be able to do likewise (b) do so while maintaining the strength of the scene removed and hence its meaning and (c) want to.

    If you don't like the words made by these "untalented" artists, don't watch them. And if you're going to watch them and demand laws forcing them to accept third party edits, at least give them a right to have their names removed from such edits.

  • by sgt_doom ( 655561 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @11:05AM (#12372024)
    Technically speaking (not sensibly nor logically speaking...) the only way for the majority of Americans to retrieve even a small amount of the rights usurped from us over the past few years is for each and everyone of us to incorporate - that is, we all become corporations onto ourselves.

    Then, and only then, will we have full citizenship again....

  • by RichardX ( 457979 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @11:57AM (#12372765) Homepage
    You might find the work going on at [] rather interesting. They've already got anonymous HTTP, NNTP, FTP, streaming audio, and, yes, bittorrent up and running rather nicely - decent speeds, good anonymity and security (though it's still in beta, the security is already impressive, and getting stronger with each release)
  • Re:Not that bad... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by glockNine ( 851509 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @12:02PM (#12372853)

    First, we arne't Bush bashing. He wasn't really involved with this bill.

    What are you talking about? He signed the friggin bill into law! What are we coming to when Americans don't even hold the president responsible for bills he signs into law, i.e. this law would not exist without his signature.

  • Re:Censorship (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TFGeditor ( 737839 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @12:25PM (#12373151) Homepage
    "...many movies go overboard and many others have sex or violent scenes when it doesn't forward plot or character."

    My point exactly. Would a graphic sex scene have mad Love Story a better movie? No. In fact, it would have been a distraction from the theme and message.

    Would explicit special effects of Hunphrey Bogart's character getting decapitated with a machete have made Treasure of the Sierra Madre a better movie? No. (Actually, there was a scene that showed the character's decapitated head, but it was cut before release.)

    Some movies/stories/plots call for graphic violence/blood/sex or whatever, and that is fine. But why film an inconsistent or gratuitous tumor into an otherwise great piece of work?
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @01:26PM (#12373911)
    For those unfamiliar with American law, the federal government almost never has jurisdiction in cases of rape and murder. I believe there are only about 100 such cases a year.

    The number of federal inmates on death row is 37, Federal Death Roll Inmates [], the number in Texas alone, 447. Death Roll Inmates By State []

    When the Feds do become involved, the sentences are rarely lightweight and the prospects for early release are negligible. California man sentenced to 30 years in sex case []

  • Re:Not that bad... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zuzulo ( 136299 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @02:16PM (#12374550) Homepage
    My point is pretty clear, i think.

    Technology tends to evolve in the directions that our culture desires. It is clear that our culture desires that there exist some avenue for *truly* anonymous conversation and data transfer. Our laws are quite clear that this desire is one supported by historical and legal precedent, and is moreover almost a fundamental axiom of american society.

    Therefore, since the development of a cryptographically secure anonymous network is technically feasible, it is very likely to come into being due to the cultural forces behind its development.

    Furthermore, once such an entity exists, its legal and cultural implications are pretty clear. I do *not* support video or audio piracy, and i do *not* support software piracy, and i most certainly do *not* indulge in either on a personal level, but it is at the same time clear to me that the historical forces in our society that have consistently demanded the right to freedom of speech will result in technical development that will not only support freedom of speech but will make it very, very difficult to control copyright violations without violating some of the core tenets our culture claims to hold dear.

    As much as some would prefer to believe differently, in the modern world, the right to anonymous speech is synonymous with the right to share copyrighted information. These two things are technically equivalent, and therefore inseperable.

    So i never claimed that my proposal would help stop people committing crimes, i merely claimed that by giving the people the right to truly anonymous speech we would also be enabling a wide variety of currently illegal behavior, and that the two capabilities are technically inseperable.

    Your thoughts in response are more than welcome.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine