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Congress May Outlaw 'Attempted Piracy' 768

cnet-declan writes "Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is asking Congress to make 'attempted' copyright infringement a federal crime. The text of the legislation as well as the official press-release is available online. Rep. Lamar Smith, a key House Republican, said he 'applauds' the idea, and his Democratic counterpart is probably on board too. In addition, the so-called Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007 would create a new crime of life imprisonment for using pirated software in some circumstances, expand the DMCA with civil asset forfeiture, and authorize wiretaps in investigations of Americans who are 'attempting' to infringe copyrights. Does this go too far?"
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Congress May Outlaw 'Attempted Piracy'

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  • Yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Concern ( 819622 ) * on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:05AM (#19129391) Journal
    Does this go too far?

    Yes, this goes too far.

    I promise vehement grass roots activism to defeat any elected official, Republican, Democrat, or Independent, who gets anywhere near voting for this. Full stop.

    This will not sneak by in the dead of night. We are watching. You are either against this violent insanity, or you are against the voters.
    • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

      by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <{akaimbatman} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:17AM (#19129599) Homepage Journal
      I wouldn't lose any sleep over this bill. It's basically the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2006 [wikipedia.org] (text [publicknowledge.org]) reincarnated as the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007. Don't you see how much better the new version is? It's got 2007 in the name! Congress, therefore, MUST pass it this time! :-/

      As far as I can tell, Congress didn't even care to look at, much less vote on it. The only difference this time is that the Attorney General is attempting to submit the law himself to give it more credibility. (It was previously backed by Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R) of Texas.) My hope is that it will end up in the same dustbin as the last attempt.
      • The administration being behind it will help, and it will get more notice. The real question is whether the RIAA has bought off enough democrats to get this on the docket for a vote.
        • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:44AM (#19130103)
          Randall, old Buddy!

          Maybe you haven't been paying attention to the news, but nobody in Congress has any interest in listening to what Bush is promoting, and certainly not what Gonzales is selling.

          I'm just surprised Gonzales choose copyright to try to change the subject. I'd have thought he'd be promoting a bill to protect children from porn, or something like that. Maybe he's afraid of pulling a Mark Foley?
      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Fordiman ( 689627 ) <fordiman AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:30AM (#19129849) Homepage Journal
        "The only difference this time is that the Attorney General is attempting to submit the law himself to give it more credibility."

        Like Gonzales has any credibility left.
      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Funny)

        by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:33AM (#19129901) Homepage Journal
        Gonzo is supposed to be giving the bill more credibility?!?!

        That would be great! They would try to hold someone accountable under the IPPA2007 law, but would find that no lawyers, prosecutors, or judges could recall exactly what part of the law had been violated, and then find that no one actually wrote the law down. In the end, the person would still be convicted though, because everyone knows they broke the law, they just can't remember how.

      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by plalonde2 ( 527372 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @12:28PM (#19132009)
        I hope it won't pass. But this is a grim statement about the attorney general's lack of respect for the rule of law. Have a look at most of the provisions: it's about criminalizing a larger class of people and lowering the standard of proof. That's one of the key tools of the police state: make everyone guilty of something and you'll have a way to detain anyone you want to at any time. You'd be hard pressed to defend yourself against an accusation of attempted copyright theft, and this would let them have the server logs that show yoy visited sites hosting copyrighted materials. bang. They have something they can use againt you.

    • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NeoPaladin394 ( 1044484 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:21AM (#19129681)
      Why is this guy still in office? Is he trying to pass as much law for his puppet masters as he can before the angry mobs get to him? This is ridiculous! I'm not surprised at all that the President backs this.


      "Currently certain copyright crimes require someone to commit the "distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of at least 10 copies" valued at over $2,500. The [Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007] would insert a new prohibition: actions that were 'intended to consist of' distribution."

      So not only are we going to punish thought crime and what big brother thinks you're going to do, but this bill would even require Homeland Security to inform the RIAA and associated companies if one of us imports discs with "unauthorized fixations of the sounds or sounds and images of a live musical performance." Why don't we just reorganize the RIAA as another extension of the federal government? They're practically there anyway, and they'd be able to add an RIAA Piracy tax to our paychecks.

      This does not bode well. This does not bode well at all. It would be interesting to see how current presidential candidates handle this proposition, but am I too jaded if I think it will never reach any debate podiums?
      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) * <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:43AM (#19130061) Homepage Journal
        Why don't we just reorganize the RIAA as another extension of the federal government? They're practically there anyway, and they'd be able to add an RIAA Piracy tax to our paychecks.

        Because then they'd have to pay lip service to things like Due Process and the Freedom of Information Act. They're much happier as a private organization that simply gets the government to do its bidding for it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Absolutely. Which is whenever anyone tells me that they want to run for president or congress, I suggest they just get rich and buy themselves a Congress critters. It's like having your own Congressional seat, but without pesky things like term limits, conflict of interest investigations, elections or ethics commitees!
    • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ynohoo ( 234463 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:47AM (#19130163) Homepage Journal
      They put in a bunch of totally extreme proposals, that can then be negotiated out, so that the "less extreme" version can be sold as a compromise. It's a standard political tactic to sweeten a bitter pill.

      It's a shame both the mainstream parties sold their souls decades ago, so long ago that most citizens do not realise what was lost. Both parties serve the interests of the corporations who bankroll their election, and rely on bamboozling the voters for their support instead of representing them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sqrt(2) ( 786011 )
      I don't think there will be anyone left to vote for.
  • Life in prison? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jshriverWVU ( 810740 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:07AM (#19129415)
    Yet murderers and rapist get out in less than 5-10. WTF is wrong with our society.
    • Re:Life in prison? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:11AM (#19129479) Journal
      Murder victims tend to lack the money and legal bribery to get laws made in their favour. Money speaks and dead people don't :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )
      Because you only kill a human being, not the revenue stream of a corporation clinging to outdated business models. What do you think this is, free market?
    • Re:Life in prison? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis.gmail@com> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:13AM (#19129525) Homepage
      They didn't say life in prison, so much as they said that they want to trigger repeat offender status [e.g. three strikes]. I'm sure if you were convicted of murder a third time you'd definitely get life.

      That said, I agree that it's absurd that we can even think of locking people up for life for copying bits. There are easier and more humane ways to go about this. For example, probation, being forbidden to own/operate a computer, etc.

      You can still be a totally productive member of society without a computer. Being locked up in a cell is hardly productive.

      • Re:Life in prison? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:37AM (#19129973) Homepage

        I'd go further: I think it's absurd to think of locking people up for a day for this sort of "pirating". Now, it's one thing if you're talking about actual pirates, cutting people's throats on the seven seas and whatnot. Hell, I'll even grant you that, if you're the head of a software-piracy ring that sells counterfeit DVDs, you probably deserve some prison time.

        But for downloading "pirated" software, or for using it? No. You aren't some sort of an irredeemable dangerous criminal just because you've downloaded Adobe Photoshop. Worst case for those sorts of pirates-- those who download or participate in a bittorrent-- should be something like paying 150% of the retail price of the infringing software.

  • This is brilliant! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dudeman2 ( 88399 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:08AM (#19129425) Homepage
    Once life imprisonment for piracy is passed, the only safe software to use will be Free/Open Source.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Howitzer86 ( 964585 )
      Correct. Because the second your legally purchased version of Windows goes haywire and declares itself invalid - you are boned.
    • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:13AM (#19129521) Homepage
      This is more true than most people think. Do you keep receipts for all the software you buy? Can you prove you have a license? The only safe software will be Open Source and Free. Anything else could land you in jail, because you can't prove that you actuallly have a license. This is why I think more businesses should be using open source software. It makes it a lot easier to keep track of licenses.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TobascoKid ( 82629 )
        But how do you proove that you have a licence to run Free Software?

        I know it sounds absurd, but a few years back we had an auditor who had real trouble with free software, as she felt that without a paper trail (ie, receipts) you couldn't proove that you really had a licence (though she wouldn't accept the counter claim that a receipt or a paper licence doesn't proove anything either). In order to pass audit, we had to print out the licences used, for every piece of software and for each install. So we had
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
          But it's pretty easy to produce the paperwork. Just print out the GPL. Run it through the photocopier 10000 times if that's what they want you to do. How easy is it to produce Windows licenses for each and every Windows machine running in a large office building? How about MS Office? It's probably harder than you think for any business with more than 20 computers.
    • by Applekid ( 993327 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:15AM (#19129563)
      Until that's made illegal too.

      Yeah, I thought life imprisonment and civil forfeiture for an attempted crime was impossible, too. Stupid me.
    • except (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nanosquid ( 1074949 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:27AM (#19129763)
      Except that Microsoft and other companies are trying to create the presumption that any and all open source software violates someone's copyrights or patents.

      Microsoft is almost certainly already lobbying for laws that will place strong legal burdens and liabilities on open source software, with the intent of making it impossible for any serious business to run open source software.
    • by Zonk (troll) ( 1026140 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:27AM (#19129777)
      Until Microsoft get's the "execution for violating patents" law passed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! ( 70830 )
      >the only safe software to use will be Free/Open Source.

      Then you'll be accused of violating dozens if not hundreds of patents. Patent violators are treated like pedophiles in the prisons of the future!
  • Crazy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Judg3 ( 88435 ) <(jeremy) (at) (pavleck.com)> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:09AM (#19129439) Homepage Journal
    If you aren't yet a member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, now would be a real good time to start. http://www.eff.org/ [eff.org]
  • by LoaTao ( 826152 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:10AM (#19129457)
    Attempted copyright infringement? When we can't get our elected officials charged with real, already committed and documented crimes? What is going on in this country!?!
  • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:11AM (#19129469)
    FTA: Require Homeland Security to alert the Recording Industry Association of America.

    Sure that is what everyone intended the anti-terrorism money to go to.

  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordPhantom ( 763327 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:11AM (#19129473)
    All considerations about copyright infringement aside (legal, illegal, etc), this just makes my blood boil:

    " Require Homeland Security to alert the Recording Industry Association of America. That would happen when compact discs with "unauthorized fixations of the sounds or sounds and images of a live musical performance" are attempted to be imported. Neither the Motion Picture Association of America nor the Business Software Alliance (nor any other copyright holder such as photographers, playwrights, or news organizations, for that matter) would qualify for this kind of special treatment."

    Since when did Copyright Infringement become an issue for Homeland Security to work directly with a specific corporation?
        Why give only the RIAA this treatment? Do they notify Tropicana when off-brand OJ is smuggled in from Mexico?

  • "probably?" (Score:5, Informative)

    by Richard ( 5962 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:11AM (#19129475)
    "his Democratic counterpart is probably on board too"

    Would it be too much to ask that you find out Rep. John Conyer's position - hell, even his name would be an improvement, and perhaps understanding why Rep. Smith is considered "key" (hint: check the committees) - before you start tarring him with the same brush as Rep. Lamar Smith?

    -Richard Campbell.
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:11AM (#19129491) Journal
    this legislative effort and *ALL* those who support it:

    (The Justice Department's summary of the legislation says: "It is a general tenet of the criminal law that those who attempt to commit a crime but do not complete it are as morally culpable as those who succeed in doing so.")
    You cannot and SHALL not legislate morality. Thought police should be shot on the basic premise that they cannot stop themselves from breaking the laws the are supposed to uphold. Witness so many big pulpit preachers that can't stay away from young men, drugs, prostitutes etc. If you look at all the crimes committed by elected leaders it will make you wonder how the US government can even operate. Thought crimes cannot be punished. Morality cannot be legislated.

    If this is to pass, what immoral act would next be prosecuted? Being gay? Being obese? Being lazy?

    This is clearly an admission by those who support it that they are UNABLE to enforce current laws, and even that they are trying to enforce laws that are thought to be bad laws by enough people that they can't possibly get 100% compliance.
  • by arkham6 ( 24514 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:14AM (#19129553)
    If this law passes, I see the following.

    (mp/ri)aa will flood the various file sharing networks with dummy files, aka 'master_of_puppets.mp3' that are actualy null files of a certain size.

    Random user tries to download file from *aa over the network.

    *aa records IP address of user

    *aa submits IP information to DoJ

    Random user goes to jail for attempted piracy and *aa also files a civil suit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Echo5ive ( 161910 )
      "(mp/ri)aa will flood the various file sharing networks with dummy files, aka 'master_of_puppets.mp3' that are actualy null files of a certain size."

      Does that actually work in US law?

      We had a case like that here in Sweden recently: someone found a backpack filled with drugs in a basement somewhere. The police replaced the drugs with flour and waited to see who was going to pick it up.

      Someone picked it up and got arrested. He was quickly released, since he denied any knowledge about drugs (and the backpack d
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 )

      Random user goes to jail for attempted piracy and *aa also files a civil suit.


      Profit for the *AA. Not for the public, who pay IIRC ~$40,000 per year to keep someone incarcerated. And that's operating costs, never mind the capital costs of building prisons, or the costs of maintaining the legal system to put them into prison.

      People need to think about that -- if someone attempts to pirate, is convicted, and serves a prison term of one year, that just cost us taxpayers well over $50,000.

      For what

  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:19AM (#19129643) Homepage
    Does this mean I can finally when a nobel prize for attempted chemistry?
  • Death to tyrants (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:26AM (#19129751)
    Not even 250 years ago, the founders of this country willingly committed treason and went to war over laws such as this. Life imprisonment sounds a lot worse than taxation without representation to me. The general population of the United States are not served by this law. We are not being represented. Now, we can't even get the offenders voted out of office. Never mind trying to incite a revolution.

    The only good politician is tortured and dead.
  • by vivaoporto ( 1064484 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:30AM (#19129833)
    Well, if the penalty becomes life in prison, it is better to put an eye patch, sail to the high seas and become a real murderous pirate, as, according with the U.S. Code, Title 18, Chapter 81 [cornell.edu], the penalty for being a real pirate is life imprisonment, but the profits can be way higher.
  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:32AM (#19129879) Homepage Journal
    See what it has become - something that is exploitable to the extent that people can propose LIFETIME imprisonment.

    if anything, any concept or practice comes to this point, it becomes evident that it is wrong and harmful.

    lets see what intellectual property has become :

    nth generation inheritors still living lavishly on a single book their ancestors had produced 100 years ago, without giving anything to society.

    big publishers enjoying a practical monopoly of the creative market, sign on promising talents, and thereby force (or try to force) entire population of earth to go through them to reach mankind's fruits of creativity.

    same big publishers are utilizing connections and bribing statesmen so that their monopoly wont be broken, but furthered, in the expense of modern democratic rights and values.

    A scoundrel's collection of lawyers, posing as RIAA, extorting and intimidating people arbitrarily, without even feeling the need to provide valid proof before accusing someone and demanding surrender.

    combined, all these have reached a point that the intellectual property exploit parties are now insolently demanding that their hold on society be ratified and furthered with LIFETIME imprisonment. get a load of that. This is no less than INDENTURED servitude of 17th century. make one mistake, sign one paper and you are goner.

    this is not what free countries of the earth were founded for. in every country every citizen has the right to take up arms against a state that compromises the principles of democracy and unjust. United states was founded in this fashion, and has open statements to that effect.

    It is evident that intellectual property concept has to be revised fundamentally, to prevent such abuses and insolence. its current state is a one that it has started actually hampering free trade, freedom of choice, competition and civil rights.
  • Oh big brother (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:50AM (#19130249)
    I am a Republican and stand by a lot of what this administration does. However, Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot by getting behind stupid proposals that do little but preserve outdated business models. We've let Democrats appear to be the forward-thinking party by taking bass-ackwards positions on things like IP law. While I'll stand behind the war in Iraq, I'll march against stupidity like this. Expanding the DMCA is a joke.
  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:03AM (#19130503)
    as some people will go down shooting to stay of prison for the rest of there life.
  • I would guess they have decided this is the best way to use that power. Not for the terrorists. Oh, wait.....terrorists harm the value of society. Our US society is determined by the value of the bank account. Money is god here. So I guess this goes hand in hand with the Patriot Act, Wiretaps, Tracking and No Fly lists. "You will be labeled a terrorist for THINKING bad thoughts." I would say that the US is turning into a "Police State" but I am pretty sure it is way too late for that simple assessment.
  • by Cervantes ( 612861 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:39AM (#19131131) Journal
    This pattern is getting old.

    1) Introduce bill with ridiculous provisions
    2) Public upset over ridiculous provisions
    3) Remove ridiculous provisions
    4) Pass the rest of the bill, which by itself would still be ridiculous, but now everyone's happy that they "fought The Man" and won.
    5) Slowly expand power and scope of existing bill until you can do really silly things with it.

    Enjoy getting your computers confiscated by The Man (sorry, "Civil Asset Forfeiture") just because you have Shareaza installed. Also enjoy having Homeland Security (a government agency) notify the RIAA (a private company) when you come back home with a bootleg tape of that concert you went to. Don't forget to smile when you get sentenced to many years in prison and many tens of thousands of dollars in fines because you downloaded MP3's of an out-of-circulation album. I'm sure you all have the tens of thousands of dollars required to fight all that in court and win, right? And you can do without our assets or money or liberty while you're fighting it...

    How does that line go again? "... with liberty and justice for all* "
    * liberty and justice sold separately

    When ya'll get sick of this crap, Canada and Mexico are both just a few hours drive away.
  • by pyite69 ( 463042 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:44AM (#19131245)
    Civil asset forfeiture is certainly effective, but the last thing we need to do is expand the prison industry. Look at what this has done for the "war on drugs" since Reagan signed it into law in the mid 80's - prison population has quadrupled, but drugs are just as easy to get now as they were then.

    Copyright and patent violations should not be criminal penalties, period.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.