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PRO-IP Act Passes Judiciary Committee 185

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The Pro-IP Act has passed the Judiciary Committee unanimously, thanks to the support of committee chairman Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). We've discussed this before — it's the same bill which would create copyright cops with the power to seize computers, when powers like that have been systematically abused in other areas. But, apparently, they think the bill is just wonderful now, simply because they cut the provision that would've increased statutory damages while keeping the rest. This is the same bill that William Patry called the 'most outrageously gluttonous IP bill ever introduced in the US.'" While we're on the subject of intellectual property, Canadian law professor Michael Geist gave a talk on Monday about "copyright myths."
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PRO-IP Act Passes Judiciary Committee

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  • by Unlikely_Hero ( 900172 ) on Thursday May 01, 2008 @07:07PM (#23269328)
    When a fed comes to your door, I have three words for you. Headshots headshots headshots. They wear armored vests and helmets so aim for the eyes. (paraphrased)
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday May 01, 2008 @07:22PM (#23269430)

    Copyright infringement is a civil offence, its the responsibly of the owner to enforce their copyright, why then are people trying to create a federal division to enforce it?

    Because that's how you gain power. By making criminals of your subjects, you gain power over them - the power to threaten them with fines, imprisonment, or death. How can your government control you if you've broken no law? It can't -- at least, not reliably -- so it makes up laws that are impossible to follow or interpret, and in so doing, forces us to jump through its hoops to avoid imprisonment. It doesn't matter whether they catch all the "criminals", only that they catch enough to make examples of. Eventually, you find yourself complying, if for no other reason than that you're afraid that someday you might be picked as the "example".

    "Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against - then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens' What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

    - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957

    And for those who automatically reject everything Rand wrote (because they don't like some of what Rand wrote), how about a former Attorney General and US Supreme Court Justice?

    "With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone. In such a case, it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it, it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him." - Robert H. Jackson [], 1940

    And then I'd push my state legislature to outlaw these 'copyright cops'.

    And then your Federal overlords would threaten to withhold highway funding, and your state legislature would cave.

  • The PRO-IP act would change that.

  • by frdmfghtr ( 603968 ) on Thursday May 01, 2008 @08:01PM (#23269668)

    Most of will agree with you but they'll be too afraid to mod you up. Sad.
    That's because there is no "agree/disagree" moderation option. If you agree or disagree you respond to the post.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 01, 2008 @09:44PM (#23270264)
    Referencing nazis or the holocaust doesn't end intelligent discourse. Morons spouting "Godwin's Law" as if that's some sort of rebuttal do.
  • by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <pig.hogger@gmail.NETBSDcom minus bsd> on Thursday May 01, 2008 @11:00PM (#23270598) Journal

    Let me ask you something - if everyone is guilty of something, how do government officials stay in the office? Either they can be found just as guilty of something, and then everyone's on the same footing - and Ayn Rand falls flat on her face. Or they are exempt from laws that affect the regular plebeians
    They are exempted, as it is the case in Australia: hundreds of police officers in South Australia were caught with pirated movies on their computers, but they will not be prosecuted because "the ability to effectively police the state will be severely diminished []".

    (Article here [], many others []).

  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Thursday May 01, 2008 @11:20PM (#23270710) Homepage
    It's not merely the DMCA that is criminal. The N.E.T. act in fact turned a substantial percentage of the entire U.S. population into felons. In particular essentially everyone who has ever used P2P at all - tens of millions of people right there - are felons. And it goes beyond that. Two elementary school children who swap oldskool audiocassette tapes are felons. And more.

    The United States No Electronic Theft Act (NET Act), a federal law passed in 1997, provides for criminal prosecution of individuals who engage in copyright infringement, even when there is no monetary profit or commercial benefit from the infringement. Maximum penalties can be five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. -- The term "financial gain" includes receipt, or expectation of receipt, of anything of value, including the receipt of other copyrighted works.

    Title 17 United States Code
    Section 506 Criminal offenses
    (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 --
    (A) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain;
    (B) 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; or
    (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 under section (A) it is Criminal Infringement if you infringe and have "receipt, or expectation of receipt, of anything of value, including the receipt of other copyrighted works", criminalizes ANY P2P use if you upload some much as a single file and download so much as a single file. Or if you exchange some much as a an audiocassette mix tape, or almost anything else.
    Under section (B) "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 pretty well covers any nontrivial uploading anywhere or almost any sort of nontrivial distribution at all, even if you never receive anything at all.
    Section (C) criminalizes any "pre-release" leak whatsoever. Note that later text "clarifies" that a movie released to movie theaters is still in "pre-release", so any leak of a movie running in theaters but "has not been made available in copies for sale to the general public in the United States in a format intended to permit viewing outside a motion picture exhibition facility" is criminal.

    Prison sentence:
    Up to 10 years for a second offense.
    Up to 5 years for "the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of at least 10 copies or phonorecords, of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $2,500". (Which would cover moderate P2P usage.)
    Up to 1 year "in any other case". (Covering effectively anyone who has ever touched P2P at all, any anyone who has done any of a number of other trivial things such as swap mix tapes.)

    I figure the US population is currently subject to well over a hundred million person-years in prison.

    And for bonus points, I love the way industry lawyers pulled off most of this insane law by slipping an innocent looking sentence into the DEFINITIONS section of law, and advertising their beloved bill as merely updating copyright law to properly deal with commercial criminal infringement operations. That's the typical sort of thing that goes on when you literally allow industry lawyers to write the laws we pass.


I've got a bad feeling about this.