June 25, 2004 2:09 PM PDT

Senate OKs antipiracy plan

The U.S. Senate on Friday overwhelmingly approved a controversial proposal that would let federal prosecutors file civil lawsuits against suspected copyright infringers, with fines reaching tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The so-called Pirate Act has raised alarms among copyright lawyers and lobbyists for peer-to-peer companies, who have been eyeing the recording industry's lawsuits against thousands of peer-to-peer users with trepidation. They worry that the Department of Justice could be even more ambitious.

Senate leaders scheduled Friday's vote under a procedure that required the unanimous consent of all members present. Now the Pirate Act, along with a related bill that criminalizes using camcorders in movie theaters, will be forwarded to the House of Representatives for approval.

"These acts will provide federal prosecutors with the flexibility and discretion to bring copyright infringement cases that best correspond to the nature of the crime and will assure that valuable works that are pirated before their public release date are protected," said Mitch Bainwol, chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America. Counting a new round of lawsuits filed this week, the RIAA has sued 3,429 people so far.

Friday's unanimous vote represents a key legislative victory for the entertainment industry, which has been lobbying fiercely for ways to halt the ever-growing popularity of file-swapping networks. Their reasoning: If civil lawsuits brought by the music industry haven't been enough of a deterrence, perhaps federal suits brought by the Justice Department will be.

One influential backer of the Pirate Act has been urging an avalanche of civil suits. "Tens of thousands of continuing civil enforcement actions might be needed to generate the necessary deterrence," Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, said when announcing his support for the bill. "I doubt that any nongovernmental organization has the resources or moral authority to pursue such a campaign."

"This turns the Department of Justice into a civil law firm for the industry's benefit," said Adam Eisgrau, the executive director of P2P United. Its members include BearShare, Blubster, Grokster, Morpehus and eDonkey.

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Why not?
Somebody tell me what's wrong with this picture. If this bill passes he United States government is going to begin filing lawsuits on behalf of companies OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES? What's next? These lawsuits are paying for themselves. The RIAA doesn't need the government to step in and the U.S. government does not need to be defending the interests od companies outside the U.S.
Posted by Chwith (79 comments )
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WOW
Wow fellow Americans,

Gone are your all your days of Freedom. Politicans , businessmen have taken up all your freedom . Now do we still call USA a land of free speech and freedom. Banning a camera from being taken into Cinema is the most absurd thing. after all a person goes to Cinema to enjoy movies not to unfortunately get caught as criminal. Even a dictator would not have such a rule. And now the government is ok with suing people on industry's behalf. Good luck...
Posted by mercuryrising (60 comments )
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Consumers Will Turn to Royalty Free Content
I don't get it--the whole file sharing thing is going to happen regardless of the large recording lables trying to take action against consumers. For example, what is stopping me from creating a web site that focusses on free content--everyone knows there's plenty of it out there on the internet.

Personally, I don't really care if the large recording labels want to excert their influence by pushing for legislation to protect their so-call intellectual property. In the end, I will simply find royalty free content to enjoy be it music or movies, etc.

Today there is plenty of royalty free content that is available; not to mention, you can create your own music too, such as using programs like FruityLoops, etc.

The way I see it, the recording industry will be waisting a lot of money. What the recording industry needs to do is think about their business model and adapt to the changing world we live in--file sharing on peer-to-peer networks has arrived, and I see no end in site despite the recording labels and their efforts to put an end to threat looming over their long-standing domination.
Posted by tlshillam (7 comments )
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The problem is...
The problem is that "free content" isn't all that great and most people don't want it otherwise they wouldn't be trading the copyrighted stuff. Also, with the way the copyright law is written and what the requirements are how do "you" know the stuff doesn't have a copyright on it? You don't, a copyright notice isn't required for something to be copyrighted.

As for cameras in theaters, I have no problems with people being jailed for that. What I do have a problem with is the government wasting our tax money, which apparently they don't have enough of to run the government as is (thanks George Bush) to file civil law suites on behalf of businesses. If a business has a problem with someone stealing from them it has always been up to them to deal with it. This is not an area the government needs to get in to. They don't have the money, the man power and they sure as hell have no business filing civil law suites.

It is also bothers me that they can pick and choose who they want to go after and they don't have much of a burden of proof. What this looks like to me is the government can go after the people that contribute the most to political campaigns and ignore the little copyright holders who are having their stuff ripped off too.

Then to make matters worse they don't even have to provide any thing was stolen, they only have to prove that you had $1000 or more of copyrighted material in a certain folder on your computer. What kind of crap is this?

I suspect that should this make it past the next hurdle that law suites will be filed. I just hope the consumers finally pull their heads out of the ***** and take a stand and so no more. Stop buying movies, music, stop going to theaters, start impeachment proceedings for people like Mr. Hatch, etc. If this isn't stopped now, we will have a police state. Thanks to George W. Bush we are closer to that then ever before. THIS HAS TO STOP AND IT HAS TO STOP NOW.

Robert
Posted by (336 comments )
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Goin' to Canada
Good thing the US goverment sticks to its ideals... promoting freedom... keeping business and government seperate... better watch out, next they'll throw out freedom of speech and start locking us up for bad mouthing them in this feedback section... It'll give homeland security something to do. May sound farfetched... but that is exactly what we are spiraling toward... Every loss of freedom tempers for the lose of another, when we accept on injustice we then more easily except the next... like a bad habit, it's hard to stop... then will come the end of the very reason that this country exists... and the very reason it has prospered. May God have mercy, and may we come to our senses before it's to late.
Posted by d2r4 (21 comments )
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Who is the government REALLY working for..
We pay the bulk of taxes in this country but again special interest monies are showing through again and again...very sad and pathetic...
Posted by zincmann (153 comments )
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ACT NOW!
Alright, First of all this whole program is absurd. It is up to the Companies to defend their copywrights, and the Govm't just wants to get in on the $$$$. Thats where this whole thing stems from, the money.

Second off, whats this crap about blaming the Bush Administration for this thing?! Bush ididn't make this proposition! Did you see Bush go up on national tv and say "We are going to sue the American People who we are working for?"???!!!

The senate is made up of both liberals and conservatives, and liberals have more pull with the media, etc. The Liberal party wants all of this socialism crap which doesn't work (see Europe with $8 a gallon of gas and useless healthcare). Socialism is just one step up from communism, where you're free, but the tax the hell out of you to tell you what to do.

Conservatives on the other end just wants a Government that does what it was designed to do: SERVE THE COUNTRY AND THE PEOPLE
If America wants better roads, give it to them! If America wants better schools, give it to them! If America wants less taxes, give it to them! If America doesn't want another 9/11 Take out the Terrorists and the Countries that harbor them!

Conservatives rareley get it office, so it takes a great deal of effort for them to make a dent in the socialist barracade.

All of these Government money scandalls are to throw money into problems so they can get worse. Welfare is the biggest leak of tax money, People get PAID to do NOTHING. Poor people have always been able to get back on their feet using one of the MILLIONS of NON PROFIT CHARITIES avalible in our great country. Yet Socialists and their media never touch on that.

NOW they want to fuel their cash burning spree buy targeting specialized groups. TAX CIGARETTES! Cigarette smokers didn't like that, they were affected by it. Everybody ELSE liked it! Hey, It doesn't affect ME! Wasn't THIS what we fought England for??? "NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!" Remember that whole ensamble?


WHAT CAN WE DO AS CITIZENS?

EMAIL the Senetors! Find all of their email addresses at www.senate.gov

EMAIL your representatives. www.house.gov

EMAIL the PRESEDENT or Vice President whitehouse.gov

Send them a HUGE bombardment of Legnthy emails telling them that YOU DON'T WANT YOUR GOVERNMENT TO ATTACK ITS OWN CITIZENS. Tell them that CORPORATIONS SHOULD TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN AFFAIRS. Tell them to MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS!!!
TELL THEM TO STOP SUCKING MONEY FROM INDIVIDUALS FOR EVERYONE ELSES BENEFIT!

Don't think they won't listen. If we bombard them hard enough they'll have to listen!
If Email spam can cause Billions of people to buy cheap viagra, SURELEY we can instil some sense into our Government.

Spammers, get crackin'
Today, not tomarrow
Posted by eviltoaster (31 comments )
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What caused all this?
Here we go again... I'm 32 and I've heard industry, government and consumers griping over the copyright infringement issue all my life. I have tried Kazaa myself, and I remember being in high-school and taping my favorite singles off the radio. But even with all this "freely available" material I still have an extensive collection of legitmate movies, albums and software.
So what's the real problem? Industry claims it's losing money on sales of movies, music, software (etc.) to copyright infringement. And they are currently pointing thier fingers at peer-to-peer sharing as a major culprit.
I have an answer to the claims of grevious profit loss: prove it. I have yet to see an accurate study done of true profit loss from any member of industry. The average retail consumer who is engaging in the use of non-licensed media would not normally be able to afford all the music, movies, and software they are using illegally. So, the industry's studies siting X-millions of people multiplied by X-dollars worth of lost profit are HIGHLY inflated. This is particularly true in the case of major software companies, many of whom continue to crank out huge, slow, packages based on legacy code(recycled programs) and charge $100, $300, $800, $1500, or more per license.
Now, on to the culprits. In general, the world of retail capitalism tends to take it's lead from the major retail-product producers in the United States. In my humble (yeah, right ;)) opinion, it's logical to lump CD's, DVD's, video tapes, and software license in with traditional retail goods like clothing, refrigerators, and electric pencil-sharpeners. Why? And what does that have to do with copyright infringement? Well, first off:
Nowadays, when you by most copy-righted media, you are actually purchasing a LICENSE to use it. The media itself doesn't actually belong to YOU... Of course the pencil sharpener does... But you purchase your license in pretty much the same way; ie: $20 for a pencil sharpener, $20 for the "Matrix Re-Loaded" on DVD.
Now, as to the culprits:
The retail market(United States at least), and I include these copyrighted media here, tends to lag way behind the available technology. Once a company (or group of companies), gets a good profit going (a corner on the market, you might say), they don't want to allow a newer, better, product or technology into the market. Even if the established company could be the one who profits. Why? Because they are ALREADY making money, and don't want to risk any loss of profit.
Now, I could carry that argument in any number of directions. However, here is how it applies to copyrighted media: people are willing to walk into a store and pay $15-$30 dollars for the latest CD from their favorite artist, because they're getting a cool-looking printed CD, with a customized case and nifty 7-page pamphlet included. The $15 to $30 dollars is understandable, since someone had to design and manufacture these tangibles, distribute them, and operate a store to sell them. However, the possibility of selling copyrighted media over the intenet by download has existed for a long time now, and the industry has only truly started to respond to that demand recnetly. And the industry's over-all repsonse is to charge prices that do not reflect it's own cost-savings from eliminating all that overhead. So, a horde of frustrated consumers is doing exactly what the industry has "induced" them to do.
The flexibility and economy that would drive sales volume through the strato-sphere has been a real possibility for over 5 years now. But the industry leaders are too caught up in their own greed to see that their sales volume would increase 10-fold if they dropped thier prices and put out the paltry sum it would take to support that demand.
I wouldn't have even TRIED Kazaa Media Spyware if I could have bought 100 songs for $20. Or downloaded the "Last Unicorn" for my daughter for $3. And the industry would be seeing a whole new profit to overhead ratio.
But, alas, most industries nowadays would rather make money by suing consumers than selling a product.

W G
Posted by (2 comments )
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This is what I think
This country has gotten 2 fare away from G-d, Now G-d is $$$$ thats what G-d is. Its not enough just to have one millione dollars now you have to have more more more more more more more. America wake up and repent and stop being so greedy for money. Money is not G-d its a thing. Money isn't going to save no one. Money is nothing but truble. When the government and money gets in every thing then G-d is left out. He is not going to bless this nation or any other nation of this earth if we don't turn back to him and start doing whats right. So if you want some things to change vocot every thing then they will listen.
Posted by gumpman155 (19 comments )
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