April 27, 2005 3:44 PM PDT

New law cracks down on P2P pirates

File-swappers who distribute a single copy of a prerelease movie on the Internet can be imprisoned for up to three years, according to a bill that President Bush signed into law on Wednesday.

The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, approved by the House of Representatives last Tuesday, represents the entertainment industry's latest attempt to thwart rampant piracy on file-swapping networks. Movies such as "Star Wars: Episode II," "Tomb Raider" and "The Hulk," have been spotted online before their theatrical releases.

The law had drawn some controversy because it broadly says that anyone who has even one copy of an unreleased film, software program or music file in a shared folder could be subjected to prison terms and fines of up to three years. Penalties would apply regardless of whether that file was downloaded or not.

In a statement, Motion Picture Association of America president Dan Glickman said he wanted to "thank the congressional sponsors of this legislation for their strong advocacy for intellectual property rights."

The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act also includes sections criminalizing the use of camcorders to record a movie in a theater, and authorizing the use of technologies that can delete offensive content from a film.

"The protection of intellectual property rights is vital to the movie industry," said Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who joined Bush for the signing ceremony. "This bill is necessary to ensure that all those involved in the production of a film, from the director to the set carpenter, are not cheated."

The law's stiff penalties apply to "audiovisual" works, music and software that are "being prepared for commercial distribution." It's not clear how that would apply to fans who redistribute video files of TV shows aired in other countries first, or movies like Shaolin Soccer and Japanese anime flicks that can take years to arrive in the U.S. market.

While some public interest groups have criticized the measure, others characterized it as a modest expansion to a 1997 law that made copyright infringement a crime--even when no money changed hands.

Eric Goldman, who teaches copyright law at Marquette University Law School, said that the Justice Department will likely wield its new criminal enforcement powers responsibly. "I'm not as outraged by the (new law) as I expected to be," Goldman wrote last week.

74 comments

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Those with money get the Governments Favored Hand
No surprise here, frankly, There should be a law signed that prevents Movie studios from raping the customer to see a movie, average cost for a family of 4 is $30 + Food....INSANE!! What about that? The stars make TONS of money....its always the AVG joe that has to pay!!
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree it costs to much...and yes this is evil.
I've only been to the movie theaters ONCE! in my whole life i swear to god.

My dad brought me and my two sisters to see 101 dalmations...it costs a little over $50...my dad made us all swear not to tell our mom how much it cost. Never been to the theaters since then.

In my house...a movie isn't OUT until its on dvd in the stores...

Remember...file sharing is legal in Canada...i say we all defect :P
Posted by FocusedWolf (24 comments )
Link Flag
Your remedy is...
To stop going to movies. I know, I know... You shouldn't have to. But that's capitalism.

I drastically cut back the number of movies I paid to see years ago, and haven't seen a single one in almost 3 full years. Most of them completely suck anyway.

The sad part is that there is no shortage of idiots who will happily cough up $7.50 (or is it more now?) to get a ticket for that crap.
Posted by TimeBomb (70 comments )
Link Flag
Movie = Too Expensive
I mean, when people can stay home to watch tv or rent DVDs, why would they want to spend over $15 PER PERSON to watch crappy movies? Instead of spending $$ to crack down "pirates", movie studios should use the money to make better movies :)
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Link Flag
Those with money get the Governments Favored Hand
No surprise here, frankly, There should be a law signed that prevents Movie studios from raping the customer to see a movie, average cost for a family of 4 is $30 + Food....INSANE!! What about that? The stars make TONS of money....its always the AVG joe that has to pay!!
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree it costs to much...and yes this is evil.
I've only been to the movie theaters ONCE! in my whole life i swear to god.

My dad brought me and my two sisters to see 101 dalmations...it costs a little over $50...my dad made us all swear not to tell our mom how much it cost. Never been to the theaters since then.

In my house...a movie isn't OUT until its on dvd in the stores...

Remember...file sharing is legal in Canada...i say we all defect :P
Posted by FocusedWolf (24 comments )
Link Flag
Your remedy is...
To stop going to movies. I know, I know... You shouldn't have to. But that's capitalism.

I drastically cut back the number of movies I paid to see years ago, and haven't seen a single one in almost 3 full years. Most of them completely suck anyway.

The sad part is that there is no shortage of idiots who will happily cough up $7.50 (or is it more now?) to get a ticket for that crap.
Posted by TimeBomb (70 comments )
Link Flag
Movie = Too Expensive
I mean, when people can stay home to watch tv or rent DVDs, why would they want to spend over $15 PER PERSON to watch crappy movies? Instead of spending $$ to crack down "pirates", movie studios should use the money to make better movies :)
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Link Flag
What about less than a single copy?
What if a file sharer has less than a whole movie (but the movie can still be downloaded in parts from several places?) In fact it is possible that two people have no part of the movie, but togrther have the whole movie (xor the file with a random string of bits. The result is also a random string of bits. Each person holds one random string of bits, that in fact contains absolutely no information about the contents of the file. xor the two parts and you got the whole file. This is how 0+0 can be 1). Can the law cope with this situation?
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
less than a single copy
I don't know the answer to your question.

But if I had to speculate -- well, willful, coordinated activities designed to bypass this new law perhaps could be punished as conspiracy. A lot depends on whether you know what's happening on your computer at that time or not.

And keep in mind, even if you are innocent of wrondgoing, you may end up giving your life's savings to an attorney to defend you in court.
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag
Idea
Take "one whole copy", and delete one byte off the end with a hex editor. Loophole!
Posted by TimeBomb (70 comments )
Link Flag
What about less than a single copy?
What if a file sharer has less than a whole movie (but the movie can still be downloaded in parts from several places?) In fact it is possible that two people have no part of the movie, but togrther have the whole movie (xor the file with a random string of bits. The result is also a random string of bits. Each person holds one random string of bits, that in fact contains absolutely no information about the contents of the file. xor the two parts and you got the whole file. This is how 0+0 can be 1). Can the law cope with this situation?
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
less than a single copy
I don't know the answer to your question.

But if I had to speculate -- well, willful, coordinated activities designed to bypass this new law perhaps could be punished as conspiracy. A lot depends on whether you know what's happening on your computer at that time or not.

And keep in mind, even if you are innocent of wrondgoing, you may end up giving your life's savings to an attorney to defend you in court.
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag
Idea
Take "one whole copy", and delete one byte off the end with a hex editor. Loophole!
Posted by TimeBomb (70 comments )
Link Flag
Unreleased Works Only? Is that correct?
I'm confused about this. Your article seems to imply that this law pertains to "unreleased movies, music, and software." Is that the case? If so, then it would seem to me to be targeting internal "leaks" of new works.

Cnet, can you clarify what this law really means? Because I would assume that if I am the copyright holder, and I release one of my songs to a P2P network, no laws have been violated. Correct?
Posted by (274 comments )
Reply Link Flag
unreleased definition
I quoted from and linked to the text of the bill in the article. But here's a longer excerpt:

`(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... 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.

`(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.'.
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag
Try this...
Direct from the passed legislation

SEC. 103. CRIMINAL INFRINGEMENT OF A WORK BEING PREPARED FOR COMMERCIAL DISTRIBUTION

`(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.
Posted by wwhit710 (22 comments )
Link Flag
Unreleased Works Only? Is that correct?
I'm confused about this. Your article seems to imply that this law pertains to "unreleased movies, music, and software." Is that the case? If so, then it would seem to me to be targeting internal "leaks" of new works.

Cnet, can you clarify what this law really means? Because I would assume that if I am the copyright holder, and I release one of my songs to a P2P network, no laws have been violated. Correct?
Posted by (274 comments )
Reply Link Flag
unreleased definition
I quoted from and linked to the text of the bill in the article. But here's a longer excerpt:

`(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... 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.

`(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.'.
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag
Try this...
Direct from the passed legislation

SEC. 103. CRIMINAL INFRINGEMENT OF A WORK BEING PREPARED FOR COMMERCIAL DISTRIBUTION

`(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.
Posted by wwhit710 (22 comments )
Link Flag
:]
its called capitalism
Posted by (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
:(
Almost. Capitalism means competing in the marketplace without running to the government for help (except to punish fraud artists, thieves, trespassers, etc.).

What's going on here isn't free-market capitalism with limited government involvment. It involves the government far more than that -- more like a modern-day successor to mercantilism.
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag
:]
its called capitalism
Posted by (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
:(
Almost. Capitalism means competing in the marketplace without running to the government for help (except to punish fraud artists, thieves, trespassers, etc.).

What's going on here isn't free-market capitalism with limited government involvment. It involves the government far more than that -- more like a modern-day successor to mercantilism.
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag
End of Days
I just liked the title.

I don't think the government is stupid, but I don't thinks it's smart either. Polotitians don't know everything about everything. They do what ever they are told to do. Who has the power? People with the loudest voices. And guess who can afford the biggest bull horn. Bush or his cabinet never spent anytime researching the effect of this law. They sign it in and the courts throw it out. Unfortunatly many citizens will suffer in the mean time.

Look at two laws that are stupid. Patriot Act and the DMCA. I'm not going to argue that the concept for both was bad just the implamentation. It is a fine gray line between what is constitutional and what they can change. We all have the power to make the change, but only if enough of us stand together (yeah I know 'how 60's of me). If you don't like the way theaters charge don't go. If you don't like the way music is sold don't buy it. It's not easy and it won't be one in a day, but some point the market will crash or change will happen.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
End of Days
I just liked the title.

I don't think the government is stupid, but I don't thinks it's smart either. Polotitians don't know everything about everything. They do what ever they are told to do. Who has the power? People with the loudest voices. And guess who can afford the biggest bull horn. Bush or his cabinet never spent anytime researching the effect of this law. They sign it in and the courts throw it out. Unfortunatly many citizens will suffer in the mean time.

Look at two laws that are stupid. Patriot Act and the DMCA. I'm not going to argue that the concept for both was bad just the implamentation. It is a fine gray line between what is constitutional and what they can change. We all have the power to make the change, but only if enough of us stand together (yeah I know 'how 60's of me). If you don't like the way theaters charge don't go. If you don't like the way music is sold don't buy it. It's not easy and it won't be one in a day, but some point the market will crash or change will happen.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
More Jobs Outsourced To China, Russia
Darn it, this new law is going to cause the loss of thousands of American video pirate jobs. These jobs will now be outsourced to China, Russia, and other developing countries. Something MUST be done to bring these jobs back here. Per the MPAA's website:

"Russia is now one of the worlds largest producers and distributors of illegal optical media material. Local DVD plants have an annual production capacity of over 20 million DVDs (over 10 times the level of legitimate local demand). The Russian market has now become so saturated with pirate DVDs that the pirates have resorted to selling them on the streets by the kilogram.

China struggles with chronic piracy, which is estimated to comprise 91% of its total home entertainment market. Some of the factors that fuel the piracy epidemic include the lack of deterrence in the system; the uncoordinated
enforcement activities throughout China; the lack of transparency; and the continued local protectionism."

Where's Jack Valente when you really need him?
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
More Jobs Outsourced To China, Russia
Darn it, this new law is going to cause the loss of thousands of American video pirate jobs. These jobs will now be outsourced to China, Russia, and other developing countries. Something MUST be done to bring these jobs back here. Per the MPAA's website:

"Russia is now one of the worlds largest producers and distributors of illegal optical media material. Local DVD plants have an annual production capacity of over 20 million DVDs (over 10 times the level of legitimate local demand). The Russian market has now become so saturated with pirate DVDs that the pirates have resorted to selling them on the streets by the kilogram.

China struggles with chronic piracy, which is estimated to comprise 91% of its total home entertainment market. Some of the factors that fuel the piracy epidemic include the lack of deterrence in the system; the uncoordinated
enforcement activities throughout China; the lack of transparency; and the continued local protectionism."

Where's Jack Valente when you really need him?
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good Morning.
Be a hero by making it veto!
Posted by Willy Wonker (73 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good Morning.
Be a hero by making it veto!
Posted by Willy Wonker (73 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not so bad...
Come on people. Get real.
I'm a pirate. By the industry's current view, I've been a pirate for about 25 years... since I first started taping songs off the radio by playing my clock radio and taping over the air with my (mono!) cassette recorder's condensor mic.
I think collecting audio and video I'm exposed to is a right, not a crime. And I'm the first to say that most online swapping is not lost revenue...
But posting and swapping of content which has not even been released yet... what justification can you make for this? Nobody, not even the industry insiders, have come by this material with the right to share it by any legal means. And no argument can be made that it doesn't hurt the industry. Likewise for taping movies in the theatre (a closed, private airing of content).
As for the recording and sharing of material broadcast on TV... I can't see any argument for something which was broadcast publicly and for free being considered "stolen". And hopefully this bill will not be construed as making that a crime. I'd hate to go to jail for taping a TV show for my mom while she was sick!
In all I think this law has a lot of benefit for the public, and very little infringement on our rights. Don't overlook that this same law validates the technology to permit the censoring of content by individuals in their own home... which the industry also wanted outlawed.
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not so bad...
Come on people. Get real.
I'm a pirate. By the industry's current view, I've been a pirate for about 25 years... since I first started taping songs off the radio by playing my clock radio and taping over the air with my (mono!) cassette recorder's condensor mic.
I think collecting audio and video I'm exposed to is a right, not a crime. And I'm the first to say that most online swapping is not lost revenue...
But posting and swapping of content which has not even been released yet... what justification can you make for this? Nobody, not even the industry insiders, have come by this material with the right to share it by any legal means. And no argument can be made that it doesn't hurt the industry. Likewise for taping movies in the theatre (a closed, private airing of content).
As for the recording and sharing of material broadcast on TV... I can't see any argument for something which was broadcast publicly and for free being considered "stolen". And hopefully this bill will not be construed as making that a crime. I'd hate to go to jail for taping a TV show for my mom while she was sick!
In all I think this law has a lot of benefit for the public, and very little infringement on our rights. Don't overlook that this same law validates the technology to permit the censoring of content by individuals in their own home... which the industry also wanted outlawed.
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I have to agree with this law...
...it only affects pre-release piracy; and that is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, theft and has the potential to rob the industry of even legit profit. The fact that they're greedy bastards who overcharge for everything is a seperate issue altogether.
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Pre-release in the case of movies means DVD release. If you distribute a movie that is in the theaters but not on DVD in the US. You could be found guilty.
Posted by Nemesis-X (1 comment )
Link Flag
I have to agree with this law...
...it only affects pre-release piracy; and that is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, theft and has the potential to rob the industry of even legit profit. The fact that they're greedy bastards who overcharge for everything is a seperate issue altogether.
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Innapropiately named
I think they chose the wrong name for this law. "Family Entertainment and Copyright Act" makes the law seem friendly and positive, when it is completely the opposite. Maybe it should've been named "Copyright Infringement People Imprisonment Act".

It seems they've learned nothing. How many lawsuits or how many courtrooms before they realize that people will keep on swapping? I don't do file sharing myself, but those who do do it, will probably keep at it.
Posted by Sentinel (199 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's because they lumped it. . .
. . .with other sections that protect the rights to make and use tools that allow a viewer to skip potentially offensive content in films. The entirity of the act is called "Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005", but it is divided into two sections. The relevant section, in this case, is called "Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005" or "ART Act". The other section is called the "Family Movie Act of 2005" which covers the skipping offensive scenes part.

It does make you wonder if these two bills were specifically lumped together under an innocent-sounding title for exactly that reason, however. I don't see the point, however, as we see right through it. But alas, it doesn't really matter; this law overblows the issue, as most copyright penalities do, but making it a crime to pirate prerelease stuff isn't really a big deal. I just wish the penalties for this kind of stuff were less exaggerated.
Posted by (282 comments )
Link Flag
Innapropiately named
I think they chose the wrong name for this law. "Family Entertainment and Copyright Act" makes the law seem friendly and positive, when it is completely the opposite. Maybe it should've been named "Copyright Infringement People Imprisonment Act".

It seems they've learned nothing. How many lawsuits or how many courtrooms before they realize that people will keep on swapping? I don't do file sharing myself, but those who do do it, will probably keep at it.
Posted by Sentinel (199 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's because they lumped it. . .
. . .with other sections that protect the rights to make and use tools that allow a viewer to skip potentially offensive content in films. The entirity of the act is called "Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005", but it is divided into two sections. The relevant section, in this case, is called "Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005" or "ART Act". The other section is called the "Family Movie Act of 2005" which covers the skipping offensive scenes part.

It does make you wonder if these two bills were specifically lumped together under an innocent-sounding title for exactly that reason, however. I don't see the point, however, as we see right through it. But alas, it doesn't really matter; this law overblows the issue, as most copyright penalities do, but making it a crime to pirate prerelease stuff isn't really a big deal. I just wish the penalties for this kind of stuff were less exaggerated.
Posted by (282 comments )
Link Flag
New law cracks down on P2P pirates
It seems a requisite of post-communist Western government to intimidate it's people by passing laws that would make it's citizens generally fearful that they are criminal, and to pass those laws that will benefit only the very wealthy. Intellectual property (no matter how trivial) is now a commodity, and sharing it as you were taught to share in kindergarten, indeed as libraries have been sharing since the ancient Greeks, is now theft. If these same laws were represented two hundred years ago it would have cost a dollar to read the Bill of Rights and you wouldn't dare share them with your neighbor.
Posted by dakat_69 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
New law cracks down on P2P pirates
It seems a requisite of post-communist Western government to intimidate it's people by passing laws that would make it's citizens generally fearful that they are criminal, and to pass those laws that will benefit only the very wealthy. Intellectual property (no matter how trivial) is now a commodity, and sharing it as you were taught to share in kindergarten, indeed as libraries have been sharing since the ancient Greeks, is now theft. If these same laws were represented two hundred years ago it would have cost a dollar to read the Bill of Rights and you wouldn't dare share them with your neighbor.
Posted by dakat_69 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I hate to say but I agree...
..because to get a hold of pre-release items, it must have been stolen.. I read that if we just cut down on piracy of music & videos we can cut our trade deficit in half.

Matthew
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.mlearningworld.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.mlearningworld.com</a>
Posted by (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: I hate to say but I agree...
I didn't know this law had effect on people living outside the United States.
Posted by Darryl Snortberry (96 comments )
Link Flag
This is great
Because it proves my point, that since I didn't vote, I can't be held responsible for what the candidates do onc ein office.

So, when someone says: Thanks to all of you who voted for Bush!" I can stand back and say "Hey, I didn't vote for him!" = D

But seriously... I wanna know how much he was paid to sign it. Money-greedy moron.

That's it.... I'M MOVIN TO CANADA!
Posted by (461 comments )
Link Flag
I hate to say but I agree...
..because to get a hold of pre-release items, it must have been stolen.. I read that if we just cut down on piracy of music &#38; videos we can cut our trade deficit in half.

Matthew
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.mlearningworld.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.mlearningworld.com</a>
Posted by (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: I hate to say but I agree...
I didn't know this law had effect on people living outside the United States.
Posted by Darryl Snortberry (96 comments )
Link Flag
This is great
Because it proves my point, that since I didn't vote, I can't be held responsible for what the candidates do onc ein office.

So, when someone says: Thanks to all of you who voted for Bush!" I can stand back and say "Hey, I didn't vote for him!" = D

But seriously... I wanna know how much he was paid to sign it. Money-greedy moron.

That's it.... I'M MOVIN TO CANADA!
Posted by (461 comments )
Link Flag
I agree with this law, too
Like the others who responded, this law isn't confusing or unwanted as the writer of your story seems to imply. Prerelease piracy is theft, no confusion there at all. And finally, what a wonderful thing that I can actually hope to someday rent or purchase a DVD and watch it with my family, having gratuitous profanity, nudity, and violence filtered out. I've given up renting or seeing new movies the past 5 years, instead waiting for them to come on network tv, so I can watch them with my family. It seems to me nobody's business what I do in the privacy of my own home, I don't see why anyone would be against a law that permits me to see a filtered version of movies, like the writer of your story seems to support.
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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