Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007

A new legislative proposal was introduced yesterday to U.S. Congress by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The new law, called “Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007” not only increases penalties for copyright violations and makes it easier for the government to perform searches and seizures, but also includes something new: criminalizing “attempts” to violate copyright laws.

From the document:

“… an attempt to violate the criminal copyright statute should be counted an offence whether it is successful or not.”

I am not a lawyer, but this sounds scary. The document does not specify anywhere what constitutes an “attempt”. For example, imagine that I mistakenly configured my home web server so that my music collection became accessible from outside. No one ever downloaded anything – but it was an attempt, wasn’t it?

There is more interesting stuff in this proposal. For example, how do you like this one:

“…Because prosecutors work for public good, they should be able to institute an infringement prosecution even if the copyright has not yet been registered.”

Or this:
“…penalties that apply when the offense "consists of' reproduction or distribution, also apply when reproduction or distribution is intended but not completed.”


“Currently, a Federal court may issue an order authorizing the use of a voice intercept (otherwise known as a "wiretap") in the investigations of a host of Federal crimes; copyright and trademark counterfeiting crimes are not among them. This is unacceptable.”

You can read the whole text of the bill here (PDF), and some analysis here.

I do hope that this bill will never become a law. DMCA is bad enough without this sort of enhancements. Giving the government ability to sue people for attempts and intents to share a file is stupid and dangerous.

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Dreemer said...

Is it really that different from prosecuting other “attempts” – we have no problem with attempted murder or “intent” to distribute. Just because someone tried and failed to commit a crime does not mean they should not be prosecuted for it.