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Congress Declares War on File Leakers 1345

Posted by timothy
from the man-v-the-state dept.
An anonymous reader submits "Bush is expected to sign a law that essentially makes it a crime punishable by up to three years in jail for a user to put a single 'copy of a film, software program or music file in a shared folder and should have known the copyrighted work had not been commercially released.' Whichever side you're on in the copyright debate, you have to agree this legislation is draconian and excessive, to say the least."
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Congress Declares War on File Leakers

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  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:19PM (#12295002)

    Just when we think it can't get any worse, we see this sort of crap:

    From the article:


    File-swappers who distribute a single copy of a prerelease movie on the Internet can be imprisoned for up to three years.


    Nice. Our President lies to us about weapons of mass destruction and drags us into an unjust war that has cost thousands of Americn lives, but I'm the felon.

    And look how they got this thing passed...it rode in on the coattails of this:

    Also from the article:


    The bill's supporters in Congress won passage of the prison terms by gluing them to an unrelated proposal to legalize technologies that delete offensive content from a film. That proposal was designed to address a lawsuit that Hollywood studios and the Directors Guild of America filed against ClearPlay over a DVD player that filtered violent and nude scenes. (ClearPlay had gained influential allies among family groups such as the Parents Television Council and Focus on the Family.)



    Honestly, why are we stealing this crap anymore? Especially as the three most popular movies currently are Hitch, The Pacifer, and Be Cool (thanks to www.the-numbers.com)? Why do we waste our time and endanger our freedom?

    Well, I say, it's time to stop. Not just stop pirating mainstream movies, but stop watching them altogether. There's plenty of content to be found out there on the Web (AtomFilms [atomfilms.com] and INetFilm [inetfilm.com] come to mind).

    Show the RIAA that we are not sheep. Show them that we don't need to see the latest Keanu Reeves travesty. Show them we're tired of their shit. Don't see their movies. Don't pirate their movies. Don't have anything to do with their movies. If enough of us shake off the yoke, it will make a difference.

    • by operagost (62405) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:24PM (#12295064) Homepage Journal
      I'm a regular Pollyanna, I know ...

      [S.167.RH] [loc.gov]

      • by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @04:24PM (#12295930) Homepage
        I attempted to paste the text of the bill into a comment so readers would have quick access, but Slashdot wouldn't let me post it because it failed to pass a "lameness filter". Wow, Slashdot's filters are good!
      • text of bill (Score:4, Informative)

        by Barbarian (9467) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @09:40PM (#12298700)
        Like this? I just replaced every " " with " ".

        S 167 RH

        Union Calendar No. 16

        109th CONGRESS

        1st Session

        S. 167

        [Report No. 109-33, Part I]

        IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

        February 2, 2005

        Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on House Administration, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

        April 12, 2005

        Reported from the Committee on the Judiciary

        April 12, 2005

        Committee on House Administration discharged; committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

        AN ACT

        To provide for the protection of intellectual property rights, and for other purposes.

        Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

        SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

        This Act may be cited as the `Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005'.

        TITLE I--ARTISTS' RIGHTS AND THEFT PREVENTION

        SEC. 101. SHORT TITLE.

        This title may be cited as the `Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005' or the `ART Act'.

        SEC. 102. CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR UNAUTHORIZED RECORDING OF MOTION PICTURES IN A MOTION PICTURE EXHIBITION FACILITY.

        (a) In General- Chapter 113 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding after section 2319A the following new section:

        `Sec. 2319B. Unauthorized recording of Motion pictures in a Motion picture exhibition facility

        `(a) Offense- Any person who, without the authorization of the copyright owner, knowingly uses or attempts to use an audiovisual recording device to transmit or make a copy of a motion picture or other audiovisual work protected under title 17, or any part thereof, from a performance of such work in a motion picture exhibition facility, shall--

        `(1) be imprisoned for not more than 3 years, fined under this title, or both; or

        `(2) if the offense is a second or subsequent offense, be imprisoned for no more than 6 years, fined under this title, or both.

        The possession by a person of an audiovisual recording device in a motion picture exhibition facility may be considered as evidence in any proceeding to determine whether that person committed an offense under this subsection, but shall not, by itself, be sufficient to support a conviction of that person for such offense.

        `(b) Forfeiture and Destruction- When a person is convicted of a violation of subsection (a), the court in its judgment of conviction shall, in addition to any penalty provided, order the forfeiture and destruction or other disposition of all unauthorized copies of motion pictures or other audiovisual works protected under title 17, or parts thereof, and any audiovisual recording devices or other equipment used in connection with the offense.

        `(c) Authorized Activities- This section does not prevent any lawfully authorized investigative, protective, or intelligence activity by an officer, agent, or employee of the United States, a State, or a political subdivision of a State, or by a person acting under a contract with the United States, a State, or a political subdivision of a State.

        `(d) Immunity for Theaters- With reasonable cause, the owner or lessee of a motion picture exhibition facility where a motion picture or other audiovisual work is being exhibited, the authorized agent or employee of such owner or lessee, the licensor of the motion picture or other audiovisual work being exhibited, or the agent or employee of such licensor--

        `(1) may detain, in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable time, any person suspected of a violation of this section with respect to that motion picture or audiovisual work for the purpose of questioning or summoning a law enforcement officer; an
    • "Show the RIAA that we are not sheep. Show them that we don't need to see the latest Keanu Reeves travesty. Show them we're tired of their shit. Don't see their movies. Don't pirate their movies. Don't have anything to do with their movies. If enough of us shake off the yoke, it will make a difference"

      I don't know, but how about showing them we're not thieves and stop "sharing" music/movies/software or anything else that we don't have the rights to.

      Of course, we have enough laws that should deal with thi
    • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:27PM (#12295114) Journal
      Bush-bashing aside, you make a good point. If you absolutely *have* to have a copy of that DVD (or CD), buy it used. If you can't stand to live without it, that's a valid option. Otherwise, why even pirate this crap?

      How many people feel that George Lucas raped their childood memories, yet will line up to hand him money?

      Of course, if this trend continues, there will be less jail time for shooting an MPAA executive in the face than for leaking a screener, and the fall-out from *that* should be entertaining.
      • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:46PM (#12295422) Homepage
        Otherwise, why even pirate this crap?

        I've never so much as considered attempting to download a movie. The amount of effort that goes into pirating such things when you could just drive to a video store and pay a very reasonable couple of bucks boggles my mind. But honestly, at this point I'm inclined to just start pirating movies in bulk without even ever watching a single one of them, just for the purpose of distributing them to others. The movie industry feels like their customers are insidious little criminals out to destroy them? Well fine. Then I want to actually start acting like one.

        They shit on the laws of my country, I start shitting on them. It's the least they deserve.
    • by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:30PM (#12295167) Journal
      Wait. We're "stealing" this crap? You dismiss the **AA's techniques, actions and beliefs, but use their terminology? No one is stealing anything, contrary to popular belief.

      I'm sorry, but the stuff on AtomFilms and so on are not on the par of quality movies like Merchant of Venice. Sure, there's a ton of crap released by Hollywood annually, and people ignore that anyway, because it is crap. But online movie content is no replacement for a good movie.

      The fact remains that many people would go to the cinemas if they weren't that pricey and anally-retentive about food and so on. And don't get me started on cell phones.

      In any case, if we were sheep, we wouldn't be "stealing".
  • Draconian? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jhon (241832) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:19PM (#12295004) Homepage Journal
    Whichever side you're on in the copyright debate, you have to agree this legislation is draconian and excessive, to say the least."
    I don't think its draconian. To me, it seems that if You release a copywrited work without authority BEFORE it's commercial release it's a FAR larger crime than ripping and sharing the latest DVD release or previously broadcast TV show.

    Why? The damages are greater to the copywrite holder.

    Yes, I believe copywrite law is being abused (by both the (c) holder AND the (c) violator) -- however, this doesn't appear to me to be an abuse...
    • Re:Draconian? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:26PM (#12295110) Homepage Journal
      Additionally, keep in mind it's a 3 year maximum penalty. As most crimes go, prosecutors will often push for the maximum and then accept far less in a plea bargain.

      A good example is possession of a concealed weapon. In Wisconsin it's illegal to do so, but a man recently used a concealed weapon to protect himself from some guys trying to rob him. Although he was breaking the law, the district attorney didn't even press charges. Based on the law he COULD have gotten prison time, but it was never even considered.

      The maximum penalty for any law exists for the most extreme violators of that particular law. Just like the death penalty, it's not applied to every situation, just the extreme cases.
    • Re:Draconian? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:35PM (#12295259) Homepage
      I'm sorry but I really feel that Congress should be spending time protecting flesh and blood people rather than paper created "persons".

      Plenty of flesh and blood people are getting fucked over by many other issues and losing a lot more money than if a company loses some possible revenue from a movie released ahead of time.

      When my insurance rates go down and my prescription medicines no longer cost as much as they do then I feel Congress is free to explore some other avenues.

      I pay their salary too.
      • Re:Draconian? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...com> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @04:02PM (#12295638) Homepage Journal
        "I'm sorry but I really feel that Congress should be spending time protecting flesh and blood people rather than paper created "persons"."

        I respectfully disagree. Congress should be spending its time boning up on new weapons, threats to the world, trade issues, technologies, and generally just learning what's going on around them.

        There is a sense that I've gotten from a great deal of feedback like yours in the last 5-10 years, that Congress should be doing different things, but can you imagine how much better off as a nation we (sorry, intl. readers) would be if congress would just do fewer, more informed things?
    • "Why? The damages are greater to the copywrite [sic] holder."

      What supporting evidence do you have to make such a statement? What makes you think that the number of people who see the unreleased film and decide to not go to the theater is greater than the number of people who look to download the unreleased film because they cannot wait to see it in the theater -- and then they do go to the theater to see it on the big screen?

    • Re:Draconian? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Phexro (9814) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:39PM (#12295329)
      Alternately, you could argue that since the work isn't available for sale at all, you aren't costing them a dime.

      This could also completely stifle online trading of bootlegs (I'm referring to fan-made live concert recordings). Since most of these are never released (if they're recorded in the first place), almost any bootleg would be a "prerelease." The label could theoretically sue someone for distributing a bootleg, seize the copy (and rights to it) in lieu of that $250,000 fine, and sell the work at a profit while the fan sits in jail.

      Or consider this: If I download a TV show which is only broadcast overseas (or broadcast overseas before broadcast locally) with BitTorrent, I'm also guilty according to this law. Even though the show would be broadcast for free if/when it does come to my area.

      Yes, this seems draconian and excessive to me.

      Prereleases are the free market at work- if there's demand, a supply will appear. The movie studios and record labels work up a huge public demand for their works, then act all surprised when an illicit supply appears.
    • by Angstroem (692547) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:52PM (#12295512)
      Write 1000 times: "It's called copyright. There is nothing like a 'copywrite'."
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:20PM (#12295008)
    ...how the countless "shared folders" containing "prerelase copyrighted works" on untold numbers of compromised Windows boxes on university campuses will be handled...

    We get semi-automated C&D orders from content owners routinely as it is; will they now begin to insist on the involvement of university police or other agencies?

    Yeah, there are computer security issues to work out, but on a fundamentally open public research campus with tens of thousands of computers, not all of them will be perfectly protected.
    • "...how the countless "shared folders" containing "prerelase copyrighted works" on untold numbers of compromised Windows boxes on university campuses will be handled..."

      Simple. Lock up every college kid in the country, and then see what their parents think of this new legislation.

  • by xmas2003 (739875) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:20PM (#12295013) Homepage
    The submission uses the term "user" and the article (yes, I did RTFA) doesn't clarify what happens if the offending data is placed on a public web site - i.e. uploaded to a forum. I also look at the actual bill - the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act [loc.gov] but was not able to figure the answer out. So is there a "common carrier" defense for those web site that perhaps unknowingly carry stuff?

    Enjoyed my fun little christmas hoax [komar.org] - help me do it for real! ;-) [komar.org]

  • by tcopeland (32225) * <tom.thomasleecopeland@com> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:22PM (#12295037) Homepage
    ...please note that Dianne Feinstein, a prominent Democrat, is a co-sponsor [loc.gov].
    • Feinstein is a California democrat, which means that she probably gets a huge chunk of her change from media companies. Oh look [opensecrets.org], sure enough, it's number four on her list (with number one being lawyers). Surprise surprise.

      That being said, I don't think this is draconian since if you stole the amount of money you could potentially cost a business by doing this, you'd go to jail for much longer. I would agree if you said our Senate has bigger fish to be frying atm...

  • Well, shit. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Grendel Drago (41496) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:22PM (#12295040) Homepage
    That's it, I'm going to go shoplift, commit massive fraud against individuals, and torture cute things in full view of the public, because none of that is nearly as bad as filesharing. After all, it only hurts people, not corporations.

    John Rowland [wikipedia.org] defrauded the state of Connecticut, and will be serving a measly single fucking year for it. Pimply-faced teenagers will spend more time being rectally plundered by delinquents named "Li'l Dawg" than our esteemed public servant will for racketeering, conspiract, et al.

    ARGH!

    --grendel drago
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:23PM (#12295050)
    Once again, Microsoft saves the day. This legislation is nullified by simply sharing all folders. Thankfully, Microsoft has already done this for us.

    \\127.0.0.1\c$
  • by Monoman (8745) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:23PM (#12295052) Homepage
    So if I leave my door open and someone steals "a film, software program or music" then is it the same?

  • Draconian (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Blitzenn (554788) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:23PM (#12295053) Homepage Journal
    My god, I hope sooner or later people wake up to what is happening in this country. We have absolutely lost any semblence of 'punishment fits the crime'. How can 3 years in jail be justified by sharing a single copy of a pre-release movie. Granted it's theft, but theft of one $8.00 movie ticket at the most. Even if it is stealing (which I do consider it), three years in jail is just stupidly over-reactionary and overtly excessive. Of course a possible 25 year prison sentence for spamming is right up there too. Sure I hate spam and it pee's me off, but 25 years in jail? Then lump the loss of due process with the DMCA and you start to see a middle ages picture being drawn here. Isn't this what the founding fathers of our country came here to escape?
    • Re:Draconian (Score:4, Insightful)

      by barthrh2 (713909) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:29PM (#12295156)
      How do you get to "one" ticket? Take Mac OSX as an example: How many 1000's of copies were downloaded? As a downloader, the cost of the crime is $8. But as the poster, the cost is far, far, more than that.

      The term is a "maximum" not an absolute. You need something sufficiently severe to nail repeat offenders. The current approach of just saying that "If you do that, we will be angry. Very, very angry" is simply not effective in deterring this crime.
      • Re:Draconian (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Blitzenn (554788) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:35PM (#12295254) Homepage Journal
        The article state 'a single copy' The penalties apply if one copy is shared once. That's how it is written. There is no scale on the penalties, it's up to the judge, and we read everyday how that turns out once one of them gets their underwear in a wad. Sure you can exceed that, but in your example you will stand trial for 1000 counts of the same crime. Yes, the bill is written that way. So you could potentially spend 3000 years in jail under your scenario. Think about it.
        • by dr_dank (472072)
          Yes, the bill is written that way. So you could potentially spend 3000 years in jail under your scenario. Think about it.

          Thats not so bad. With good behavior, you could be out in less than 2812 years.
    • Re:Draconian (Score:4, Insightful)

      by spav (36318) <spavlos@@@cluemail...com> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:32PM (#12295207) Homepage
      Yes...we must put the fileswappers and spammers in jail for eternity, but we can let out the sex offenders and murderers out early because of jail overcrowding. Considering two highly publicized killings happened by registered sex offenders in Florida recently, I think putting more people in jail for stupid stuff like this is a great idea!
    • "Force multiplier" (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PornMaster (749461)
      Just like the armed services talk about sophisticated weapons as force multipliers, you really have to consider the effects which leaking pre-release movies can have. Granted, it's a bigger effect if the movie really sucks, since everyone can determine for himself, but...

      Granted it's theft, but theft of one $8.00 movie ticket at the most.

      Not at all. They're trying to stop the filesharing at the source with this. Keep people from leaking the movie in the first place. To go with your analogy, it's l
  • FECAL Act? (Score:5, Funny)

    by skyryder12 (677216) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:23PM (#12295059)
    Family Entertainment and Copyright Act (Legislation) sounds like a loda of crap to me...
  • All In the Family (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kevcol (3467) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:24PM (#12295069) Homepage
    "Family Entertainment and Copyright Act."

    Just write a bill, put 'family' in the title, and it's sure to pass.
    • by sc0ttyb (833038) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:37PM (#12295279)
      The bill's acronym is one "L" shy of being perfectly named.
    • Exactly (Score:5, Informative)

      by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:37PM (#12295287)
      The only reason this part of the bill has a chance of passing is because it is attached to an entirely different concept

      FTA:
      "The bill's supporters in Congress won passage of the prison terms by gluing them to an unrelated proposal to legalize technologies that delete offensive content from a film. That proposal was designed to address a lawsuit that Hollywood studios and the Directors Guild of America filed against ClearPlay over a DVD player that filtered violent and nude scenes."

      I hate riders like this.

  • Slashdot bias (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:26PM (#12295093)
    Whichever side you're on in the copyright debate, you have to agree this legislation is draconian and excessive, to say the least."

    I'll disagree. You have no right to leak an unrelased movie to the Internet. If you've doing that, you are comitting a crime. This law is just upping the penalties for a crime that's being comitted far too often.
  • by Ransak (548582) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:26PM (#12295107) Homepage Journal
    With $ [opensecrets.org] like this running our Whitehouse, Senate, etc. no one should be suprised. This is purchased legislation much like what is done in some third world countries. Freedom isn't free - it requires a large donation.
  • Phenomenal!!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cOdEgUru (181536) * <cherian.abraham@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:27PM (#12295128) Homepage Journal

    Am glad that 14 year old pimple faced - living in the basement - testosterone pumped teenagers are finally owning up to their evil rebellion against the all encompassing entity which is the Movie Industry. Because they clearly have struck a significant blow AND crippled the dying movie industry by rapidly proliferating Gigabytes of digital movie files costing the Producers millions in revenue that they otherwise would have gotten for the spectacular blockbuster family entertainment movies that they consistently bring to the Silver screen. And I sure dont shed a tear for my evil brethren who run the risk of starving every Movie Industry bigwig's ivy league sons and daughters, with blatant disregard for their needs to live better than us souls.

    Whats even more Phenomenal is the ability of Family and Faith based groups who rightly believe that they have a god given right to eliminate filth from the minds of us and to drive our youth to the purest form of abstinence and away from depravity. And their inability to comprehend the meaning of an "Off" switch.

    Heres a thought. If buying a DVD does not necessarily provide me with the fair use rights to strip out its content and modify/store it to my needs, how does that provide Clearplay with the right to filter out what they deem filthy?

    And did anyone notice the name of the Bill - Family Entertainment and Copyright. with names like that, who would want to not pass it.. Save the KIDS!!

    And then MPAA had to go out and sneak this one in, like both parties are always notorious for. Sneak something in which would not have stood alone in its own right. Sneak it in and drive it in before we have a chance to respond..

    The whole damn K Street is the first one that needs to be cleansed.
  • by isdnip (49656) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:29PM (#12295153)
    This law works on two levels. Its primary backing, of course, is Hollywood, and they have a decent case that file leaking -- especially review DVDs loaned under nondisclosure -- can undermine their business model. Okay, I get it, though the penalties do look awfully harsh.

    But this also appears to apply to anyone who "leaks" information that the owner doesn't really want out there, ever. Without a deadline on the "release" date, material can be embargoed forever. That's how Big Brother can put information into a Memory Hole, and put anyone who lets it out into Room 101. It accompanies the DMCA stream that makes information Go Away Permanently when its DRM is made unreadable: If it's on a short-lived medium (some DVDs and CDs) and can't be copied, or uses a DRM that is time-limited, then once it goes, it goes, and trying to keep the information alive becomes a Crime Against The State. These secondary agendas are not obvious to the mainstream press, but the Fatherland Security Police apparatus is well aware of how these laws can be used against political opponents.
  • The paper clip! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mindaktiviti (630001) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:30PM (#12295175)
    "The bill's supporters in Congress won passage of the prison terms by gluing them to an unrelated proposal to legalize technologies that delete offensive content from a film."

    Someone should pass a bill that makes this sort of act illegal. That Simpsons episode where they go to Washington comes to mind. Behold the paper clip!
  • by geophile (16995) <jao@geophi[ ]com ['le.' in gap]> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:30PM (#12295176) Homepage
    Man, am I glad that I'm using Linux.
  • Great... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:30PM (#12295181) Homepage Journal
    How about making it a crime punishable by prison for a company to collect or disclose information that could be used to steal a person's identity. Or for a company that fails to take adequate steps to protect that information if they do collect it?
  • Sue them! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by photonic (584757) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:31PM (#12295191)
    So does this mean that - for a change - the record companies [marketingshift.com] themselves are on the receiving end?? (Linked article claims that major record companies are actively 'leaking' new singles onto popular blogs to get positive reviews.)

  • by nick_davison (217681) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:31PM (#12295192)
    Has anyone read the article and seen the name of this thing?

    the Family Entertainment Copyright Act Legislation

    With luck, we'll end up with an enforcement branch being created and the Supreme Court refusing to get involved under the ground, "We feel that, ultimately, copyright control in this country is a F.E.C.A.L. matter."

    They do know it's the 20th, no the 1st, right?
  • by John Seminal (698722) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:35PM (#12295260) Journal
    Bush is expected to sign a law that essentially makes it a crime punishable by up to three years in jail for a user to put a single 'copy of a film, software program or music file in a shared folder and should have known the copyrighted work had not been commercially released

    I see 2 major problems with this law.

    • It costs over $20,000 a year to keep someone in jail. That is over $60,000 for three years of jail time, that is alot of money for Mr. Taxpayer.
    • Did Congress pass this law because it is a reasonable law, or did Congress pass this law because of lobbyists and to repay those who contributed to their campaign?

    But this law is not going after someone just sharing. It seems to be going after those who share a movie, before it is released to the theaters.

    Still, I wonder if this law is excessive. I would not be as troubled if I did not believe this law was passed for lobbyists, not for the public benifit. The only way to stop laws like this is for massive capmaign finance reform. Until then, groups like the RIAA will own members of Congress.

  • by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:35PM (#12295261) Homepage Journal
    I'm not convinced that it's excessive.

    Comparison to other laws and punishments is not helpful. The legal system isn't coherent and just because a punishment is out of line with other punishments doesn't make this one excessive; it could just as easily be that some others are too lenient. You can easily find other even more egregious examples, especially in the case of drug laws. (Some terribly high percentage of prisoners is in for simple marijuana possession if urban legend is to be believed.)

    Part of the reason is that punishment serves many different purposes: rehabilitation, restitution, vengeance, deterrence. Any punishment is a mixture, depending on what they want to accomplish. Deterrence is particularly strong in this case: they're going to able to track down very few offenders, so they "amortize" the punitive aspect to try to scare others off.

    There's also the notion that the punishment should fit the damage done. Arguably, the damage done by sharing movies and CDs is very high. If 1% of the people who downloaded a movie would have bought it, that can easily be 10,000 people. If the studio nets ten bucks on each sale, that's $100,000 in damage. (I don't care if you wish to call the crime "infringement" or "theft" or "piracy"; I'm trying to figure out economic losses. And unless you have some hard numbers for your argument that the studios are benefitting from your free advertising, please start a different thread.)

    Such a crime would be "grand theft" if it were theft, and three years is not an unusual punishment for the crime of grand theft. As I said, it may not be classified as theft, but it's a case where damage is arguably done, and done to the tune of a whole bunch of money.

    As the title suggests, I'm just playing devil's advoctate here. The criminals at Enron will get only slightly more jail time for the far greater, far more concrete damage they did. Compared to that tracking down file sharers is an immense waste of time, money, and jail space. I'm just not a fan of the common Slashdot "if it's not nailed down it's mine, and if I can break the copy protection it's not nailed down" argument, and we'll see how many of those respond before I get modded to negative infinity.
  • by Xabraxas (654195) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:39PM (#12295318)
    This just shows how powerful corporations have become. Somehow the governemnt can justify throwing a file sharer in jail for three years because they might have cut into some corporations profits while crooked CEOs who steal millions and destroy the life and livelihood of thousands walk free or with a slap on the wrist. Every day the class divisions are becoming more apparent in this country.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:41PM (#12295355)
    "draconian and excessive"

    If people had actually read "Mein Kampf" they would have seen the future Germany; it was all there. But it was just so damn boring nobody paid attention.

    Think about that the next time you hear our President or the likes of Mr. Delay or Mr. Kennedy drone on in flag-waving political doublespeak.
  • by AnalogDiehard (199128) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:49PM (#12295473)
    The Family Entertainment and Copyright act also legalized the tools and the practice of removing offensive scenes from DVDs, scoring a victory for services like ClearPlay and for family/religious organizations. Expect to see tools like ClearPlay embedded in DVD players in the future.

    The act doesn't criminalize the act of filesharing, it criminalizes the act of uploading copyrighted media before it is released. Big difference. I believe in P2P but pirating a movie/CD days before it is released is crossing the line.

  • by IronChefMorimoto (691038) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:51PM (#12295499)
    I see folks calling this proposal "draconian." It sounds to me, and I did NOT RTFA as of this post, that a max. 3 year sentence is not so much OVERKILL and DRACONIAN as it is a DETERRANT to those who might think about violating the law.

    Granted, it's a little nuts, but think about it -- some kid starts seeing a PSA on TV and reading online hearing about other kids getting threatened with 3 years max. for violating the law? Shit -- if I were a parent, I'd think "family" in terms of this law, 'cause spending money to defend my kid for something he probably shouldn't have been doing in the first place affects my fucking "family" financially.

    Personally, it sounds like a horseshit law in the works, but most of the ones coming from DC these days are horseshit. However, as a deterrant, 3 years for, say, my kid violating the law is plenty effective.

    IronChefMorimoto
  • by riptide_dot (759229) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:52PM (#12295504)
    From the article:

    If signed into law, as expected, the bill would significantly lower the bar for online copyright prosecutions. Current law sanctions criminal penalties of up to three years in prison for "the reproduction or distribution of 10 or more copies or phonorecords of one or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of $2,500 or more."

    Isn't it enough for the xxAA to be able to use an argument similar to "it caused us more than $2,500 in damages" in order to levy the heavier penalties on people they want to prosecute? I wouldn't think that $2,500 in damages would be all that hard to prove for a leaked pre-release film or CD...

    It seems to me that all this bill does is lower the bar on what is considered a felony for distribution (which was formerly 10 copies or $2,500 in worth).

    So this just makes it WAY easier for the xxAA industries to go after people, as their burden of proof is just about nonexistant. All they have to prove to prosecute someone successfully now is that the media in question was in fact "pre-release". They don't even have to prove that is was actually ever downloaded...
  • by DarthVeda (569302) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:56PM (#12295560)
    So do multiple files aggregate then? Say there were multiple offenses. Would one then receive life imprisonment for a massive amount of file transfers?

    Axe murderer: What are you in for?

    File swapper: I shared a master copy of Britney Spear's newest cd before it was released.

    Axe murderer: The Villainy!
  • by ManuelKelly (446655) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:58PM (#12295581)
    This bill was introduced by the notorious pirate Hatch. It seems to read like a preliminary to a more restrictive law. IANAL, but it seems to me that it would actually be hard to convict a casual file sharer.

    An excert:
    (a) Prohibited Acts- Section 506(a) of title 17, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

    `(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.

    `(2) EVIDENCE- For purposes of this subsection, evidence of reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work, by itself, shall not be sufficient to establish willful infringement of a copyright.

    `(3) DEFINITION- In this subsection, the term `work being prepared for commercial distribution' means--

    `(A) a computer program, a musical work, a motion picture or other audiovisual work, or a sound recording, if, at the time of unauthorized distribution--

    `(i) the copyright owner has a reasonable expectation of commercial distribution; and

    `(ii) the copies or phonorecords of the work have not been commercially distributed; or

    `(B) a motion picture, if, at the time of unauthorized distribution, the motion picture--

    `(i) has been made available for viewing in a motion picture exhibition facility; and

    `(ii) 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.'.
  • Am I a criminal? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jc42 (318812) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:58PM (#12295586) Homepage Journal
    ... makes it a crime punishable by up to three years in jail for a user to put a single 'copy of a film, software program or music file in a shared folder and should have known the copyrighted work had not been commercially released.

    A literal reading of this would say that some music files that I and a few friends made and put online are going to become illegal. Consider:

    1) The files are copyrighted by default (by us).

    2) We haven't released these files commercially.

    3) The files are online, on my web site.

    Are they really making it illegal for people to put their own files online without first releasing them commercially?

    This sounds like they're basically outlawing the act of giving things out for free. You can only sell things; you can't give your own things away as a present.

    I suppose this wouldn't be surprising, coming from the Bush administration.

    I've also put a number of small scripts online, for the benefit of anyone who might find them useful. They're too small to sell. They must be copyrighted since in the US, everything is copyrighted by default. So it sounds like those giving out those little scripts is soon to be an illegal act.

    I wonder what the chances are that the courts would toss this law?

    • Re:Am I a criminal? (Score:4, Informative)

      by dissy (172727) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @05:15PM (#12296537)
      > A literal reading of this would say that some music files that I and a few
      > friends made and put online are going to become illegal. Consider:
      (snip)
      > Are they really making it illegal for people to put their own files online
      > without first releasing them commercially?
      (snip)

      No.

      The problem was taking a literal reading from news.com.com instead of the actual law :}

      See the law here [loc.gov] for a copy of the quote below...


      (Sec. 103) Establishes criminal penalties for willful copyright infringement by the distribution of a computer program, musical work, motion picture or other audiovisual work, or sound recording being prepared for commercial distribution by making it available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, if the person knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution.

      (bold added by me)

      It's only going to be illegal to give something away for free if both:
      a) it was a copyright infringement, and
      b) it was being created Only for the purpose of selling

      In your case, as you are the copyright holder of your own works, you can distribute them anyway you see fit, thus are not infringing copyright in the first place.
      Second, for someone else whom you did not grant license to, whom does infringe on your copyright and distributes your work aginst your will, this law only applies if you 1) intended to sell it, and 2) that should have been known.

      As you said, you have given scripts and files away in the past on your site for free, so even if I broke in to your system and grabbed some files and put them out there on the net, I can claim I had no idea you planned to sell those works since your track record so far is to release them for free. This law would not apply then.

      It definatly only applies to people who only* make things in life to make a buck off them.
      *(It almost has to be only and not usually/sometimes/occasionally, as that does not satisfy the 'should have known' clause of the law)
      Now, if it was taken from a company/corporation instead of a person, i'm sure the court will rule 'should have known' to be in the 'always true' logic state, as its rare to have an answer for 'what else do companys exist for?'

  • WAR on Viruses (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <<spydermann.slashdot> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @03:58PM (#12295591) Homepage Journal
    Due to the fact that many zombie machines can be manipulated to publish copyrighted content, to say the least, why not make a war on people who design weak operating systems knowing that they can be exploited with evil purposes?

    In other words: How do you know the files in my shared folder weren't put there by hackers who exploited yet another vulnerability in Microsoft Windows? (remember the case of the planted warez [slashdot.org] in Sweden?)
  • Oh Canada! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DarthVain (724186) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @04:08PM (#12295712)
    Well I guess its a good thing that more and more movies are being made/shot in Canada these days. w00t! Let the bit torrents begin!

    Seriously how is this stupid US law going to translate in the real world.

    Lets say for example that some movie is made in Canada, by a US Producer. Lets also say that they send a copy to an animation server farm down in New Zealand (I think Peter Jackson has such a facility down there).

    If the movie is leaked from Canada onto the web, is the law enforceable?

    If the movie is leaked from New Zealand onto the web, is the law enforcable?

    In either case probably not. In which case the law really only exists for two purposes. One is to stop people in the US, from doing leaks. Two is to keep the Movie industry centeralized in the US market.

    Lets face it all this is, is a way that the US can promote their industry without having to compete. Usual scare tatics. How much money do you think these corporations REALLY lose due to this leakage. How much PR do they get from it (unless their movie sucks balls I suppose)...

    Anyway it seems I have entered into the tinfoil hat territory, and they are probably watching so I am out of here!

    DarthVain
  • by indros13 (531405) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @04:23PM (#12295910) Homepage Journal
    This law specifically addresses issues such as company employees putting beta programs or films on the net prior to their commercial release. Sharing it was already wrong and the potential damage is substantially more than the cost of a movie ticket, since there is no commercial alternative.

    It's one thing to make your l33t protest about poor commercial models by pirating music and movies. It's another thing to pirate something before the company even has a chance to provide a commercial alternative.

    I'm no fan of Bush, ridiculously long copyrights, or the commercially available music and movie distribution system, but I think the punishment here actually fits the crime.

  • by SmokeHalo (783772) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @04:30PM (#12296005)
    The name of the bill is the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act. So that means if you get caught with downloaded movies, you're being tried on FECAl matters.
  • by payndz (589033) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @04:57PM (#12296334)
    The US used to be (generally) respected and aspired to by people in other countries. Now, it's more often mocked and feared (in a disbelieving, "these people are fucking batshit crazy!" way), often at the same time. I don't see that as an improvement.

    And the saying goes that what happens in the US now will happen in Britain five years later. Boy, 2010 is going to fucking suck.

  • by trurl7 (663880) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @05:06PM (#12296461)
    To all of you who are writing things along the lines of "it's just 3 years, doesn't seem so bad, considering the heinous crime", something to tell you:

    unless you've personally done 3 years, or, in fact, any time, kindly STFU. I have not served any time, so I can not speak from experience on how bad it is. All I know are witness accounts.

    After 3 years in jail, your life is over. Period. You are permanently unemployable (no one wants to hire an ex-con). You are facing a choice of flipping burgers for the rest of your life, or becoming a hard-core criminal. You can never vote again (as an ex-felon, anyone with >1 jail time). Your psyche will be permanently altered, and most likely destroyed. You will be abused by whoever happens to be bored. If you resist, you will get beaten and then abused. And by abused I mean serially raped anally and orally. All of your conceptions of decency, honesty, and goodwill of all men will get crushed. Your personality may potentially survive somewhat intact if 1) you are phenomenally, exceptionally strong inside, and 2) you don't turn into a raving maniac as a self-defense mechanism. The chances of surviving as something close to your former self - almost 0. You will leave prison a burned-out husk, a grey shadow of your former self. Don't let the kindly, heartwarming prison movies fool you. You will turn into the most dreaded image of yourself, a living, breathing zombie that's totally dead inside. That's the good case. The bad case is you'll become a hardened criminal with no regard for human life, and will spend the rest of your pathetic existence taking advantage of normal people as a means of psychological revenge.

    I base my comments on descriptions of prison life both in the US and the former USSR, as written by inmates who have survived.

    So, this debate is essentially the following: is sharing a movie worth destroying a person's life? It is contended that their actions result in financial loss for some company. The exact amount, or even the fact of loss is *highly* questionable, and is disputed. Is the action of sharing a movie sufficiently grave that we see it fit to strip the offender of their humanity as punishment? What this law contends is that someone who infringes on a copyright has rejected the social contract to the same extent as, say, a rapist, a child molesterer or a murderer. 3 or 10 isn't relevant, guys. The person's just as dead either way. Longer sentences are a means of 1) isolation, or 2) giving the inmate more of a chance to become a hardened criminal. So the question stands: is the loss of corporate profit a grave enough offence to remove someone's humanity?

    The answer is left as an exercise for the reader.
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @05:36PM (#12296750) Homepage
    S.167
    Title: A bill to provide for the protection of intellectual property rights, and for other purposes.
    Sponsor: Sen Hatch, Orrin G. [UT] (introduced 1/25/2005) Cosponsors (4)
    Related Bills: H.R.357
    Latest Major Action: 4/19/2005 Passed/agreed to in House. Status: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.
    House Reports: 109-33 Part 1

    Text of Bill [loc.gov]

  • by Tsiangkun (746511) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:50PM (#12297938) Homepage
    We must fight this by playing their own game. If anyone knows a congress-person's kid who uses p2p to share copywritten files, the time has come to turn them in. Only when the government class has their own going away for three years per offense will they understand how pathetic this legislation is.

It's time to boot, do your boot ROMs know where your disk controllers are?

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