Like DoJ doesn't have enough important priorities to worry about first, such
as terrorism and fixing its internal problems discovered in light of 9/11.
No, they're going after "easy" project such as online pornography and

Talk about a warped sense of priorities.


Justice Dept. pushes stiffer antipiracy laws

By Anne Broache

Story last modified Thu Nov 10 12:29:00 PST 2005

WASHINGTON--The Bush administration announced on Thursday that it is
lobbying for new laws that would bump up criminal penalties for pirates,
expand criminal prosecutors' powers and punish anyone who "attempts" to
infringe a copyright.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, speaking at an antipiracy summit here
hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the Department of Justice
recently submitted to Congress a "legislative package" aimed at toughening
up intellectual-property enforcement amid evolving technology.

According to the proposal (click for PDF) being circulated by the
department, the measure would create a new crime called "attempting to
infringe a copyright" and subject it to the same penalties as more serious
infringement offenses.

The proposal would also permit authorities to seize and destroy pirated and
counterfeit goods--with a special nod to music, movies and digitally
obtained materials. Also on that list are any goods used to produce pirated
or counterfeit material, as well as property obtained with proceeds from the
sale of pirated or counterfeit material.

In addition to possibly serving prison time, those convicted of
infringements would, under the new law, have to pay the copyright holder
"and any other victim of the offense" a sum to compensate for out-of-pocket
losses resulting from the crime.

The Justice Department is also seeking in its proposal greater latitude for
prosecutors. Right now it's only possible to enforce against copyrights that
are registered with the government. The new proposal would make that true
only in civil cases, allowing prosecutors to go after pirates regardless of
whether the copyright is registered.

"The burden of checking whether each work was registered would substantially
slow down investigations and hinder the government's ability to prosecute
these violations, especially infringement of works owned by small businesses
that have not had the time or resources to register," the department wrote
in a document explaining its proposal.

Overall, the changes are necessary because new technology is "encouraging
large-scale criminal enterprises to get involved in intellectual-property
theft," Gonzales said, adding that proceeds from the illicit businesses are
used, "quite frankly, to fund terrorism activities."

The Business Software Alliance--whose president lamented at Thursday's event
the $33 billion annual toll from piracy on the software industry--applauded
the move, saying the group looked forward to reviewing the proposed
legislation. The Recording Industry Association of America also issued a
statement of support.

That sentiment was not shared by the digital rights group Public Knowledge,
which said in a statement that it wished the department "had devoted some
analysis as well to protecting the fair use rights of consumers."

"We are concerned that the Justice Department's proposal attempts to enforce
copyright law in ways it has never before been enforced," the group wrote.

It was unclear Thursday how Congress would handle the proposal. A
representative of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the
Judiciary said staffers had received and were reviewing the proposal.

Intellectual-property enforcement has been a recurring feature on the
government's agenda this term, from increasing prison sentences for Net
pirates to legislative fall-out in the wake of the Supreme Court's landmark
file-sharing decision this summer to ongoing debate over the broadcast flag,
a controversial device designed to prevent copying of digital content.

The Justice Department's hunger for increased antipiracy powers is hardly
new. Last fall, it issued a report recommending other sweeping changes
strongly favored by the entertainment industry.
CNET's Declan McCullagh contributed to this report.

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