OK, but I could still intend to attempt to contemplate infringement, right?

A little outrage is a good thing from time to time — gets the blood flowing and the brain clicking — but as with other forms of passion, you need to pace yourself, and people like Alberto Gonzales can make that very difficult. You’d think the nation’s top law enforcement officer would have a pretty full plate already, but he’s found time to come up with a proposal called the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007, an entertainment-cartel-friendly bit of overreaching that comes close to making copyright infringement a thought crime.

CNet’s Declan McCullagh outlines some of the more eyebrow-raising provisions, which include:

* Making it a crime not just to infringe copyright, but to “attempt” to infringe.
* Allowing more wiretaps for investigation of suspect “attempting” to infringe.
* Making it easier to seize computers “intended to be used in any manner” to commit a copyright crime.
* Adding penalties for actions that were “intended to consist of” distribution of infringing material.
* Imposing a sentence of life in prison (!) for anyone who “recklessly causes or attempts to cause death” while using counterfeit software (for instance, running a pirated copy of Subway Train Manager 3.0 when a crash occurs).
* And this beaut — requiring Homeland Security to notifiy the Recording Industry Association of America if it spots any pirated CDs coming into the country, a courtesy that wouldn’t be granted to any other copyright holder or enforcer.

One hopes such nonsense would be hooted out of Congress, but with powerful forces at play, you never know.


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  • Chukkee

    WOW! only 616 days to go.

  • The Coach

    RIAA has more lawyers and more lobbyists than the EFF.

    That’s why we’re all screwed.

    Mickey Mouse will never enter the public domain, yet an underground DJ gets walloped for sampling 2-seconds of copyrighted material.

    I hope Jack Valenti is rotting in the bottom rungs of hell.

  • Jan

    1984 is just 20 years later than predicted and mixing it up with Animal Farm, the pigs are the corporations.

  • Not to defend the RIAA or MPAA’s lobbyists, but you’re looking at the issue too narrowly. What about the folks who make counterfeit Energizers that leak acid and toxic metals? Or those who distribute counterfeit medicines that are no better than placebos? It’s easy to mock copyright enforcement by imagining that the only people affected are those who are downloading music or movies, but infringement is a problem for much more than just the entertainment industry.
    Re: life in prison – that’s a maximum penalty, and it’s in the context of reckless behavior that kills or attempts to kill. Software-driven systems increasingly perform jobs that can, in fact, affect whether people live or die. So while this hardly seems like a hot-button issue for the Justice Department to throw itself into, it’s not completely off the wall, either.
    Re: DHS alerting the RIAA – bear in mind that the DHS is where Customs lives now. Not sure why the music industry should get special treatment, but the reality is that Customs doesn’t have the resources to investigate piracy, and the RIAA does. Think of it this way — if a big shipment of bogus CDs comes in, do you really want the feds sending out a bunch of agents to trace the source? It makes more sense for them to tell the folks who are being victimized, so they can follow up the leads on their own dime.

  • george

    The overreach is coming from the same minds that brilliantly conceived of a new category called “enemy combatant” as a way to skirt all due process normally associated with civilized behavior.

    Anyday now, I expect the FBI to break down my door and seize my PC for all the copyrighted material saved therein.

    Seig heil to unilateralism.

  • Alex Burke

    Moneyed corporations regard the legal and political systems as tools to achieve their goals. Microsoft distorted the concept of antitrust and has been doing just fine. Firms irked by the stacking of electronic and software patents are doing a great job of gutting the patent system. Wealthy Republicans are doing a great job of gutting Social Security. Whenever you think you have “rights,” you’re toast. Our system is dynamic. Truth doesn’t just prevail, you have to fight for it.

  • Paul is a Hermit

    You mean it’s like a crime when someone “attempts” to kill you or steal something in your house?
    That type of “attempt?”
    Not so bad, then.

  • dermbuilder

    I say IMPEACH GWB!!!

  • Stan Orlow

    I don’t think you should require e-mail addresses to post opinions. They will know where to find us. And, if the glass is half full it is really 614 days. But look out for what you wish.

  • Observer

    We can only hope that Congress will slap this back when they hand Gonzales his walking papers. As Jon Healey noted above, there is merit in protecting intellectual property rights. Sadly, the reality of this administration rests in the pursuit of merit to the point of abuse and partisan discrimination.

  • John

    No wonder Gonzales refuses to resign! How would he survive without all the benefits that RIAA and MPAA must be heaping on him.

  • Sven

    Welcome to Theocracy: no constitution; no representation. This should get interesting

  • Mike


  • P J McConnell

    To even propose such a thing is treasonous. How these guys can swear any oath to the U.S. Constitution is beyond me. They don’t know a thing about it.

  • DAR

    To “Paul Is A Hermit”:

    Yes, it’s a crime when someone attempts to kill you or break into in your house.

    On the other hand, it’s not a crime when you just attempt to drive over the speed limit in your car, or jaywalk, or cheat on your income taxes, or about a million other violations of law.

    There are pretty few “crimes of attempt” that have been defined, and they are generally limited to pretty egregiously bad behavior (e.g., attempted murder, treason, etc.). But personally I don’t include copyright infringement in that category. Do you?

    Are you honestly suggesting we should be enlisting the Dept. of Homeland Security to protect Disney’s revenue streams?!?!?

  • John O’Grady

    Our country has become a police state. If you picture a totalitarian regime as a living being, America’s police state, at this point, could be thought of as a toddler. It is still very young, and exploring it’s world, learning what it’s capable of. If we allow it to, it will grow in power, and at some point, it will be too late. This is one child we need to strangle while it’s still in the crib.

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