Congress will soon begin considering laws to extend copyright protection to make it even more broad and intrusive than it is now.
One of the major backers is the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) an organization which should strike fear into your heart if you know anything about the current state of intellectual property law. They’re the Evil Empire of copyright.
Other evil supporters of this bill include Wisconsin Representative James Sensenbrenner, the gung-ho drug warrior and PATRIOT Act booster who really won’t be satisfied until we’re all in jail for something, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is apparently worried that money from illegal copies of Britney Spears CDs could be funneled to terrorists.
Among other things, the draft bill would create the crime of attempted copyright infringement, punishable in the worst case by 10 years in jail. It’s probably unimaginative of me to point out that rapists often get less time than that.
The bill would also increase both jail time and asset forfeiture penalties for a variety of copyright infringements. The asset forfeitures would follow the same rules as forfeitures under the drug laws…so that particular cancer of the legal system is spreading.
Worst of all, the changes would broaden the scope of the anti-circumvention laws, making mere possession of circumvention software a crime. Current law makes it illegal to sell software that can break copyright protection on digital media, even if the end user breaks protection for purposes that don’t violate copyright law, such as transferring owned music to a different medium.
That is, copyright holders in the entertainment industry use technological tricks to prevent copying that the law of the land allows. The anti-circumvention laws prevent you from having tools to defeat those tricks, even though it’s perfectly legal for you to do so. In other words, this law allows copyright holders to enforce limits far beyond the written copyright law.