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May 26, 2004
PIRATE Act Sneaking Through Congress
C|Net News's Declan McCullagh reports that legislators are trying to sneak the "PIRATE" Act through Congress and the bill may be voted on by the Senate in little more than a week ('Pirate Act' raises civil rights concerns). For those unfamiliar with the Act, it basically allows the Federal government to bring civil copyright infringement lawsuits instead of only criminal copyright infringement cases. Read the bill here: S.2237 Bill Summary and Status.
Why is this bill a bad idea?
- Rent seeking for copyright holders. They don't have to bear the costs of the lawsuit, the government does it for them.
- Deflects bad publicity from copyright holders. People may feel that lawsuits brought by the government are more legitimate than lawsuits brought by a cartel.
- Wiretapping. The government can use wiretaps to investigate copyright infringement - something that the RIAA can't do. This means that the government can go after downloaders and can more easily prove their case against uploaders.
- Double jeopardy (well, not technically, but the principles are similar). The government gives the RIAA a much bigger stick to use. After the government has sued an infringer, the copyright holders can still bring another civil lawsuit for the same infringement for at least for 3 more years.
Previous Copyfight coverage here: Funding the War on Filesharing.
My analysis here: PIRATE Act Reveals Sen. Hatch as Strange Ally of Pornography Industry and PIRATE Act - Wiretaps for Civil Copyright Infringement?.
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