April 19, 2005 4:33 PM PDT

Prison terms on tap for 'prerelease' pirates

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late 2003. An earlier version was drafted in response to footage of "Star Wars: Episode II," "Tomb Raider" and "The Hulk," reportedly surfacing on peer-to-peer networks before their theatrical release. A few months earlier, the major studios had halted their normal practice of sending DVD "screeners" to Academy Award judges.

"I am pleased that the House has passed this bill, which takes us forward in the fight to prevent the most egregious form of piracy--the illegal copying and unauthorized distribution of 'prereleased' works," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said after the vote.

Public interest groups have criticized the measure, saying that the strict criminal sanctions do not take "fair use" rights into account. Other sections of the bill create new federal prison terms of up to three years for anyone who unlawfully records a movie in a theater and provide copyright holders with new civil remedies for prerelease movies, music and software that is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Under a 1997 law called the No Electronic Theft Act, copyright infringement has long been a federal crime when the value exceeded $1,000, even if no money changed hands. But Hollywood and the RIAA have argued that it has been too difficult to convince the Justice Department to prosecute people who have been distributing prerelease movies and music.

CNET News.com's John Borland contributed to this report.

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57 comments

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I got a good way not to get caught
Don't trade the stuff, don't use p2p software, if you don't do those 2 things then you are not likly to get caught doing it, since you can not be caught "red handed" if you don't do it.
Posted by mpop1 (57 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are wrong...
Many people have been falsely charged for trading files over the Internet. Many systems are compromised and used as trading hubs without their owners knowledge.

I am sure that the law had a problem where pre-release material was not punishable, but the law being passed now ups the punishment dissproportionate to the crime and removes a critical piece of copyright law. They remove the requirement that you had to provide a copy to anyone. Now posession is illegal, it's just as bad as child porn in the legal system.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Abandoning P2P not an option.
Your advice is to avoid p2p like the plague, but that is something I cannot do. I am a linux user, and most versions of linux are freely and legally distributed over bittorrent, and many are not freely available through other distribution methods. Also, many indie films that are legal to download (Fanfilms, too) are only available through p2p, to cut down on bandwidth costs. However, some corporations (icluding ISPs) think that all bittorrent activity is illegal activity, and people have recieved RIAA and MPAA copywright violation notices before for using bittorrent to download legal software/media. The only people that this law will help is the lawyers.
Posted by (4 comments )
Link Flag
Bittorrent, how I love you
:)
Posted by wazzledoozle (288 comments )
Reply Link Flag
As long as you have a copy, you are guilty.
Downloading isn't the crime. Neither is transmitting it. It is now posession with 0 intent to do anything with it.

The only safe ground I see is the "shared folder" language. But what defines a shared folder? If you have a media server in your home with pre-release material that is shared to one or more other computers in your own home (not over the internet) are you still violating the law? Most likely...
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
gr8
So in the US they put hackers/crackers into jail while in china the government employs them. So who will win the information war?
Posted by (92 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I especially like the name of the bill
The name of the bill is almost amusing.

The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act.

Would it have passed as easily if it was, say:

The Throw-Your-Teenager-In-Jail-For-Years Act
The Make-Millions-Of-People-Felons Act?

I for one am very happy about not living in the US, these days. The level of corruption in Congress and the Senate must be reaching truly mind-blowing proportions. I guess nobody really bothers to remember that they are there to represent the citizens, not the corporate interests? Scary.
Posted by lorcro2000 (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
US gov sells out to corporate greed
Amen brother.

now if someone shot senators and congressmen, would anyone really care?

this is utter BS. Its all about protecting greed and not "people". Will the US be so unstable from the .2% loss of profit (I truly feel that the numbers they generate are inflated 500%)???

isn't it the digital revolution?
Posted by Below Meigh (249 comments )
Link Flag
so does this mean
a lawsuit based on the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act will be called a FECA Lawsuit (FECAL)?

i'd hate to be the target of such FECAL matters...
Posted by Sam Papelbon (242 comments )
Link Flag
Half of US voters still crazy?
And what else does one expect from a corporate run country?

First the majority (slight, but still majority) re-elects an abominable administration, that has clearly shown over the first four years that personal profit and buddy - buddy economy are it's major concern, any real kind of national interests non - existent.
Keeping citizens in a permanent state of fear being the only way to keep going with it's 'grab all I can ever eat and then some, for me and my mega rich friends who happen to conveniently control all that's controllable' policy.
So start a couple of wars, ignore constitution, rest of the world, all nice and dandy, and please recycle your complaints yourselves, it's so much easier. And watch 'live' TV with a delay, although the broadcasters are our best friends, well, who knows, some loser might say something you want to protect your kids from hearing so you will not hear it either.

And
Posted by googey10 (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT FOR P2P...
...programmers, they invented it all - and it's SATAN's work anyway. So torch them! Lethal injections are too kind for such witches and daemons.
Misled souls which took Satan's filesharing scheme: ok, they'll burn in hell anyway, so 10 years of gang-banging is enough as an intro, as long as they give us their money money and money.
Posted by googey10 (27 comments )
Link Flag
Big money always buys off the government
Hollywood needs a reality lesson.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Must be nice to be able to buy off congressmen
If they think it's theft, it should just be treated like a theft and not given special protections. If someone broke into a poor person's house and stole their life savings of $400, they might not even get jail time. But prevent one movie exec from buying that new porche, and jail for you!

Someday, I hope to have my very own congressman in my pocket too.
Posted by (402 comments )
Reply Link Flag
One! You cheapskate!
No, you should buy at least two, one on each side of the aisle--that way, all of your personal agenda becomes nonpartisan.

This FECA bill has 4 cosponsors in the Senate--2 Republican, 2 Democratic.

And they passed this bill by *voice vote* in both houses. You know that probably means overwhelming support; otherwise, I'm sure someone would have objected to the voice vote procedure.

So, both sides are serving their entertainment industry masters on this one. . .again, our only hope for copyright sanity is the courts. So, that's what, probably at least three years before this gets bumped all the way to the Supreme Court?

It seems it's finally starting to happen--copyright infringement with no profit incentive is slowly becoming a crime instead of just a tort. This is probably just the first stage for a Hollywood-serving Congress. Somewhere, the idea of copyright being a balance of rights between authors, publishers, and consumers was clearly lost--the publishers are slowly grabbing all the power.

How utterly sad.
Posted by (282 comments )
Link Flag
Aren't the prisons crowded enough?
I don't mind massive fines or restrictions being placed on a convicted pirate, but let the punishment fit the crime. Considering the constant cries of overcrowding among the prisons across the country, and budget cuts resulting in violent criminals being paroled or released early (encouraging them to commit further crimes, which so many do), should congress REALLY be putting movie/software pirates in jail?
Posted by DaClyde (96 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Perspective on punishment
I couldn't agree more. Three years inprisonment for copying a movie, with no personal monetary gain involved? That's just obscene.

I can't believe people would allow a bill that mandated three years inprisonment for, say, shoplifting some chewing gum - and that is at least provably a crime that causes a set amount of loss for the shopkeeper, nobody has as yet proven that copying has a negative effect on media sales!

The bill won't do anything worthwhile to slow down copying, but it will allow the MPAA/RIAA etc to victimize a bunch of movie copying nerds legally.

A little perspective would be good here. Heck, at the moment, movie studios are making billions on DVD sales alone... without these draconian out-of-whack punishments.
Posted by lorcro2000 (71 comments )
Link Flag
This "law" is clearly unconstitutional!
As soon as "dubya" puts his John Hancock to this useless "legislation" (shame on you, Congress!) the Supreme Court is obligated to declare it unconstitutional. Something in the constitution regarding "cruel and UNUSUAL" punishment! Think about this, people! An 18 year old high school kid turned into a FELON over such a minor infraction. Remember, just having it in a shared folder qualifies the person as a FELEON, regardless of ACTUAL downloads! If the courts don't shoot this to HELL and back, I propose a revolution against "dubya" and his regime! And I'm serious! (BTW, I personally don't now or ever use P2P for anything, but this "law" is just going too far!)
Posted by ray08 (64 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Interesting Choice of Title
Congressmen very often use some strained acronym to describe legislation, i.e. Senator Orrin Hatch's "Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act or DREAM Act.

This one is called the "Family Entertainment and Copyright Act."

All that they are missing is an 'L' at the end.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
So how about a one year consumers strike?
Just stop buying any new media for one year. Listen to your old CDs. Read books. Surf the web. Download legal stuff: there's plenty of stuff that is freely offered by its creators: look for stuff licenced under Creative Commons or other free licences. Stop trying to get what everyone else has. Look for artists nobody else heard of, then tell your friends what you found.

If everyone stops buying mainstram media for one year, it would be a different world!
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I already did
Why pay almost $10 for crappy CDs/Movies? :)
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Link Flag
Unrealistic and probably wrong, I'm afraid
First of all, it can't be done. People will always buy some mainstream media.

Secondly, if sales go down, the MPAA/RIAA will just howl: "PIRACY! We need tougher punishments! Oh, and since we're selling less, we'll raise prises so we get more per unit!"

Of course, then they'll sell even less... but that is no doubt merely due to piracy, it has nothing to do with high prices for lousy product. ;)
Posted by lorcro2000 (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Despair
If we Americans really are uncapable of giving up movies for a length of time, then we are ripe for fall. This legislation is then moot, and we are doomed. I refuse to stop the fight, so I will not buy movies.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Only Applies to "For Profit" Piracy
One thing left out in the article is that this law only bans posting pre-distribution works "for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain." If you don't believe me, follow the article's link to the bill, and look at Section 103(a)(1)(A). So this bill doesn't affect the casual P2P'er, only the people who make a living out of selling pirated works. Three years still sounds a bit harsh, but it's not draconian.
Posted by led56 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WRONG
If you read parts B or C you can see that you are wrong. The key word is "OR." This means that if any condition applies you get sent to jail. Pay attention.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Only Applies to "For Profit" Piracy (This is misleading)
Prvious P2P lawsuits have deemed that sharing files to another individual is "FOR PROFIT" even if money does not exchange hands.

They have ruled that exchange for other files equates to a monetary personal profit, thus sharing one file could legally expose you to being a felon with a possible prison term.

Personally, I think this is rather extreme. I would think that if you equated this kind of crime to hard crimes, something like assault which I believe is not a felon should be 5+ years in prison.

I would rather have the government taking hardened criminals off the street as felons then an aspiring college students.

It would also be nice to see the government attack the drug crime as aggressively as they are attacking P2P copyright infringement. Oh that's right, no big money is being lost by crack and heroine in our streets. Maybe we shouldn't worry all that much about drugs than. Let's just get rid of these felons that are sharing files.
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
Huuh?
It looks like the "or" applies to all 3, so if it's any of those 3 cases you're in trouble.
Posted by (84 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Possible
It is difficult to tell, now that I check it yet again.

Because in English, when you give three conditions with an or, you do write it in the form: [condition 1], [condition 2], or [condition 3].

And the law is listed as:

(a) [first condition];
(b) [second condition]; or
(c) [third condition].

So, it probably was meant to be interpreted as (a) or (b) or (c), not (a) and [(b) or (c)] as suggested. I guess we'll find out when the courts have to interpret this.
Posted by (282 comments )
Link Flag
Are you sure?
P2P is maybe a 1/2 dozen years old. What did people do before? NNTP, FTP, HTTP, and IRC are a few examples of non-P2P. I admit that I've tried almost every P2P client from Napster to BT. I couldn't care less if P2P disappeared forever. There's nothing wrong with FTPing to get a Linux distribution. It's sure a lot faster than using a .torrent file.
Posted by ledzep75 (53 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good point......
But, that's not really the issue. P2P is dangerous aswell as possibly being made illegal. But still, that's not even the point. What they are doing can and will have an impact on FTP and everything else. According to the wording of this bill, the particular method used is meaningless. It is the act of doing it that would be illegal.
Posted by Prndll (382 comments )
Link Flag
The wrong approach...
If I were in a position to receive and review exclusive material, it
would be an awfully hard sell to get me to accept ANYHING
under these new circumstances.

Furtherore, I don't think the RIAA (and others) realize the extent
to which it's own overbearing tactics have harmed the industry.
Posted by veryfrustrateduser (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I completely agree
This can be applied to so many other things that have nothing to do with movies and music. This is one of the things that I have been saying for some time now.

We are dealing with a kind of technology that is based on copying. If takin to an extreme (wich is entirely possible), it could outlaw computers themselves.

P2P will end up being good for nothing more than porn. But then, at what point will people have to hire lawyers for intellectual property rights on their own nude photos? ....and what will that do to the camera industry?

With the wide ranging degrees that law gets interprited, it is just too dificult to say for sure that this will "only" be used for music and movies.
Posted by Prndll (382 comments )
Link Flag
Lies? what about xandros? P2P isn't all bad.
I find it shocking that you consider mentioning Linux and Peer to Peer in the same sentence to be an insult to linux. P2P, although used for illegal uses, is a blessing to the internet.

As for me lying, Look at Xandros:
-Open Circulation (HTTP download) $10
-Open Circulation (BitTorrent download) No charge

(from <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.xandros.com/about/downloads.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.xandros.com/about/downloads.html</a>)
Is xandros dragging the name of Linux through the mud?

When downloading files from busy servers, it's faster to use Bittorrent. It's how I got Slackware, as well as the free fanfilm "Star Wars: Revelations." (The Revelations site went down from too much traffic over HTTP, the torrents got faster with all that traffic)

I have a friend who tapes at taper-friendly concerts, and the 1 to 5 GB lossless audio file that is created can only be distributed through a very expensive server, or bittorrent for free.

As a small home-server admin, Bittorrent is also a blessing, greatly reducing bandwidth. Many people offering legal content on the internet ask you to use Bittorrent if you can before trying their FTP mirrors. World Of Warcraft, by Blizzard, was offering it's patches through Bittorrent for a while. I make my own computer music, and share it over Gnutella and Ares.

As a matter of fact, I have yet to use Bittorrent for an illegal use. Bittorrent isn't inherently bad, just like knives, which are lethal weapons, are also useful in many instances. (Please excuse this extreme analogy, but you were pretty extreme when you accused me of lying.)

It is impossible to steal with bittorrent. You are unable to deprive anyone of property. It is possible to infringe copyrights, but you can infringe copyrights over HTTP, FTP and IRC too. Technically only the uploader or distributor is infringing, they are the one making the copy. Is someone who buys bootleg CD's of the streets stealing? No. The person making the CD's is the one committing the crime, infringing on the copyright.

The penalties for downloading an album are much greater than for physically stealing the CD from wal-mart. In my opinion, this is Draconian. Your opinion is probably different, as well as unchangeable.

But please, don't drag the name of Bittorrent though the mud with your lies.
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Have you ever been to a LUG?
you can get many free distros without cost to eather you or the distro. Also there are many sites out there that host things for free, lets look at your fan film example check out <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://theforce.net/fanfilms/" target="_newWindow">http://theforce.net/fanfilms/</a> there are others out there where you can submit your stuff. There are also internet cacheing servers out there.

Your arguments are uncompelling, the main use for P2P is to violate the law. I could see if it was not the main (90%+) use of it but only a minor one, like your knife example.
Posted by mpop1 (57 comments )
Link Flag
Tables Have Turned!!
Whatever happened to that lawsuit that the consumers won by the high brow attorneys saying they was price fixing by the CD record companies?
The national article said the consumer need not do anything that they would see lower CD prices in the CD store. That never materialized as the prices still stayed at the status quo.

Next thing with the movie industry. Their greed when they first released DVD's and the prices were astronomical. They should be held responsible for price gouging. Then next look at the price it costs to see a movie. That is a wasting resource and it disappears after all time has transpired for that asset.

Next look at the price points today for these things and they still are in the stratosphere which had nothing to do with p2p file sharing.

Next thing is look at availability of a certain artist. For example I tried to get the double CD by the Dave Clark Five that I once owned but now I can't find it anywhere. Another Double CD of great songs I can't find is the Troggs greatest.

Next thing to think about is the cost of a concert ticket and merchandise accompanying it. There is a lot of capitalizing going on here as what has been taking place. I paid $5.00 for a Supertramp ticket in 1977. The concert was fantastic even though the venue was sectioned off by a large curtain due to poor turnout since not many people knew who they were at the time.

Next look at the oligopolies within the communications market for radio station ownwership and TV station consolidation.

Finally, look at the capabilities that were given to the end-users by the technology companies to exploit these technologies.

The ingenious software writers of p2p saw something that was not being filled. Finally isn't possible to record a movie from your TV,cable or satellite set-up and transfer that over to DVD for self-use. That is the emphaticness I say that as long as no revenue is being derived from those activities it should be permitted.

The pre-release well, go blame the insiders in the entertainment industry for that facility to be come available and not to forget our new international friends that we have begun trading with in recent years.
Posted by alawana (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Finland To The Rescue!!!
Hey everyone, watch out for Viralg ,it is something that is being released by the Finns to obfuscate every p2p file that is trading on a p2p network to make total nonesense out of it.

"Quote within website"
Posted by alawana (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Buy Used Books & Media
Go go amazon.com or ebay.cm and puchase quality used items. Better yet wait go to your local library and check out movies for free!
Posted by kieranmullen (1070 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Public Library
Unfortunately, my library charges $2.00 a DVD or VHS for taking out to borrow and that adds up.

Thanks anyway,

Very few movies I care about seeing again or owning copies.
Posted by alawana (20 comments )
Link Flag
Heres my argument to the government
Alright, listen up, this says stuff bout putting people away for 3 years for something that costs less than 30 bucks? Thats crap. There talking bout putting millions and millions away for something that shouldn't be even considered a crime. We download music and movies made by singers, bands and actors that are snobby as hell, and get what they want, and yet were punished for the way we act? Thats ********, I'm tempted to go against this **** myself.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Disposition!
The P2P is at the US Supreme Court Level and will be decided on July 2005. The case is MGM vs.
Grokster. If you want a plethora of information go to the Electonic Frontier Foundation and you can download all the briefs in PDF form. One other thing is that this hedges on the Sony Betamax argument back in the late 1970's.

Keep this in mind, wealthy people who have satellite radio in their autos and also a CD recorder can get an unlimited amount of music gratis. Is the playing field level?

Sooner or later there is going to be a turn to the majority winning out because the technologies have made these capabilities possible for all end-users.

I welcome comments in a tremendous way.
Posted by alawana (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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