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Representative Lamar Smith (R - TX)
How does up to 10 years in jail for a first offense sound?

The proposed Intellectual Property Act of 2006 aims to crack down on digital copyright infringement and stiff penalties will be imposed on the parties involved. According to, the new draft legislation was created by the Bush administration and is being backed be Representative Lamar Smith of Texas.

Not surprisingly, the RIAA is in favor of the legislation. And it's not too hard to see why considering some of the key points laid out in the legislation which include:

  • Piracy would be considered a federal crime punishable with up to 10 years in prison (10 to 20 years for repeating offenders).
  • Seized computers and accompanying peripherals used in the crime would be destroyed.
  • Copyright holders can impound documentation used to support copyright infringment (i.e. receipts, invoices, etc.)

With recent efforts be made to scale back the scope of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, this proposed legislation flies in the face of leniency. From

Smith's measure would expand those civil and criminal restrictions. Instead of merely targeting distribution, the new language says nobody may "make, import, export, obtain control of, or possess" such anticircumvention tools if they may be redistributed to someone else.

"It's one degree more likely that mere communication about the means of accomplishing a hack would be subject to penalties," said Peter Jaszi, who teaches copyright law at American University and is critical of attempts to expand it.

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By sprockkets on 4/26/2006 1:08:48 PM , Rating: 1
Only a Republican out of Texas could push for such a bill...

Funny how a Democrat wanted to get rid of the crappy parts of the DMCA.

RE: yeah
By geeg on 4/26/2006 1:39:19 PM , Rating: 2
whats the penalty for a rape? and for a repetitive rape?

RE: yeah
By Samus on 4/26/2006 2:30:16 PM , Rating: 3
The reason penalty for Rape is pathetic would only demonstrate the likelyness for this guy, or one of his children (boys) to commit it. lol.

RE: yeah
By jconan on 4/27/2006 12:25:41 AM , Rating: 2
wow, jails would sure be crowded while they let go of dangerous criminals because their crime isn't as severe as dmca. would dmca also apply to people who modify their prius to get more gas mileage or to people trying to repair their computer but they can't because of government sponsored spyware through media companies protected by dmca? only asinine lawmakers would make such a law like this. vice versa america should also be able to sue lawmakers and their cohorts via class action for asinine laws with severe penalties for lawmakers being bribed by media companies or lobbyist. now that's fairgame and equality.

RE: yeah
By ncage on 4/26/2006 1:48:54 PM , Rating: 2
Ya and look how smart of decisions our currently elected president is making who is a republican from texas.

RE: yeah
By Samus on 4/26/2006 2:29:22 PM , Rating: 2
It really shouldn't be a surprise this kind of crap comes out of a Texan politician. Look how great of a job Texas politicions have been doing recently.

I feel sorry for the Republican party, they're really having some sort of internal civil war within their collective.

RE: yeah
By smitty3268 on 4/26/2006 3:18:50 PM , Rating: 3
I'm actually a Democrat - at least sort of - but I have to respond here and say that the Dems have been responsible for plenty of bad tech laws. I don't think either side is very good when it comes to subjects like the DMCA, patents, etc.

RE: yeah
By brystmar on 4/26/2006 5:28:23 PM , Rating: 2
I'm glad someone from the other side of the aisle is willing to admit this, as members of both parties deserve equal amounts of blame for screwing over consumers' rights to using media they have purchased. The simple fact is that NO public official wants to be seen as soft on the punishment of "copyright infringement" offenders, but clearly some are more proactive about it than others.

It'll be interesting to see how they define what constitutes piracy -- will ripping a DVD that I purchased to my HDD really get me 10 years behind bars? What about copying a few songs from a friend's CD to my ipod? I really hope our legislators have some common sense when it comes to stuff like this.

A step towards getting our rights back?
By Chocolate Pi on 4/26/2006 9:10:07 PM , Rating: 2
Personally, although I think this might be going about it the wrong way, I am 110% for cracking down on piracy. I am also 110% in favor of pulling back ridiculous laws "protecting" copyright owners by making fair rights illegal. (Illegal rights? Huh?)

In my mind, as overly harsh as this may be, it is hopefully a step towards a market with less piracy and thus less anti-piracy obsession that hurts us fair users.

RE: A step towards getting our rights back?
By mindless1 on 4/26/2006 10:00:34 PM , Rating: 2
What it will probably do is make piracy more violent.

Many still assume a market with less piracy is some desirable goal. Seldom is it really considered that beyond lowering prices some, otherwise it's likely the market for those buying software is already saturated, that putting people in prison won't sell more software, it'll just cut down on the # of people tech savvy enough to do it, and those are the software users that generally provide more tech support for the products than the company who produced it.

It's always amusing though, how some people feel that if only they more aggressively display acts of greed that suddenly more money will come rolling in. Nevermind that silly concept about making a better product and pricing it within the grasp of the target market. If they want their market larger they'll have to hit these goals. People in prison buy even less software than ever, and so will we if our taxes have to pay to support an ever-growing prison population.

By jconan on 4/27/2006 2:12:44 AM , Rating: 2
it's us taxpayers who have to foot the bill everytime these asinine lawmakers write these stupid laws. and we still pay these lawmakers aka congress(wo)men or senators paychecks while they're in office for making ludicrous decisions. there should laws to limit the amount of stupid laws that they can make and also make them responsible fiscally for the time wasted on making these stupid bills with taxpayers money. everytime time they are solicited or paid by lobbyist, compan(ies) or special interest groups to write the bill the public has the right to know who or what parties sponsored the bill or how much the lawmakers were paid by those companies to write the laws, ie dmca.

By iDakey on 4/26/2006 10:24:27 PM , Rating: 2
The United States has long led in the statistic of persecuting its own citizens. We have the highest percentage of population housed in prisons and jails of about any Country.

Proclaiming that, "You may not eat what you want." That is where the real problem lies. These kinds of things have all just fallen into place as the government dangles highway money in front of each and every state to increase the amount of ...cough extorted $$ to feed the Federal Greed. The last of our civil rights are being destroyed in the name of the war on terror and drugs. This is the least of our worries and is a true sign of where we are headed. Vote for change in any situation is our only hope.

This is farcical, copy a few tunes and use daemon tools to keep my DVD's from being shredded with constant use. And, then apply a stiffer penalty than rape? Good call.


By n7 on 4/26/2006 1:01:08 PM , Rating: 3
God bless America...

RE: Wow...
By vbNetGuy on 4/26/2006 1:08:36 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Wow...
By Tebor0 on 4/26/2006 1:28:01 PM , Rating: 2
Benjamin ($$) bless America.

By mitchman666 on 4/26/2006 1:17:32 PM , Rating: 3
Is that a toupe he has on his head cause if it is I think it might be restricting the blood supply to his brain. Ten years for a first offence for a list of offences this broad is completely nuts.

RE: ??
By bpurkapi on 4/26/2006 1:27:22 PM , Rating: 2
I was wondering? How many of the people here contact their representatives when things like this come up? It is really easy to contact my senators, just send them an email, do it all the time when I hear about bull**** like this.

RE: ??
By DigitalFreak on 4/26/2006 3:35:08 PM , Rating: 2
I do. I've even gotten responses back, though they tend to be a canned response. Check the EFF's site and see if they have one of their e-mail forms up for this.

Seat Belt Law
By Dfere on 4/26/2006 1:28:32 PM , Rating: 2
I am very anti-piracy, but this is ridiculous. This will turn into a new seat belt law: This will never be enforced, until someone does something else, or unless someone has an axe to grind. This is a great example of potential future selective prosecution.

This will not add to deterrence. While the law says maximum, a judge will NEVER sentence someone to the maximum. The above posts forget THAT is why drunk drivers keep getting behind the wheel, and this would occur here too, if it were actually enforced.

RE: Seat Belt Law
By TomZ on 4/26/2006 4:38:55 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure where you live, but in my state, the seat belt laws are enforced, and police are granted the ability to pull you over if they see you driving without a seatbelt.

That said, I agree with your main point.

RE: Seat Belt Law
By jconan on 4/27/2006 11:16:45 PM , Rating: 2
but seatbelts saves lives. how many car accidents have you seen on the road? even at work ie forklifts, rollers, etc...

Contact your senator or representative
By Ibrin on 4/26/2006 1:45:30 PM , Rating: 4
This is the type of thing that requires Americans (and especially Geek-Americans) to make sure our elected representatives hear our voices. Use the Internet to find your Rep and Senators. Remember to be polite and tactful. Speaking in leet, poor English, or being plain rude will only hurt the cause.

Here is a primer on contacting government officials by the Electronic Frontier Foundation :

Contact your Senators :

Contact your Representative :

Lamar Smith's website :

I'm from Texas, and I'm a conservative. I'm anti-piracy, and I'm also anti-stupid. And this law is stupid.

By hondaman on 4/26/2006 2:26:11 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you very much for this information. I just emailed him to voice my opinion.

By Missing Ghost on 4/26/2006 4:27:59 PM , Rating: 2
Again, I'm happy to be Canadian.

RE: yay
By Brainonska511 on 4/26/2006 5:01:49 PM , Rating: 2
And if you are lucky, the CRIA will try to work Canada's laws along the lines of the U.S. laws.

RE: yay
By The Battōsai on 4/26/2006 8:00:39 PM , Rating: 2
Damn I may have to become Canadian too :D

By GGA1759 on 4/26/2006 1:12:07 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting how someone can rape or murder someone and do less time. Even someone with a DUI violations does less time. But take a few dollars from the cookie jar and they cut both your hands off. Second offense they take your feet.

Seized computers and accompanying peripherals used in the crime would be destroyed.

Let's hope they just wipe the HD and not fill landfills.

RE: Priorities
By rushfan2006 on 4/26/2006 2:32:11 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting how someone can rape or murder someone and do less time. Even someone with a DUI violations does less time. But take a few dollars from the cookie jar and they cut both your hands off. Second offense they take your feet.

Bingo! Exactly my point on this and similar stupid bills. This is the land of the free and the brave and free-enterprise is number one and all that good stuff. Really makes you think when you read about these kinds of bills though...does this country really value money higher than justice......of course it does....

When punishment for ripping off a song or movie, or stealing a product is more harsh than if you rape someone, deal drugs to the kids on your block or in some cases even murder someone -- something is extremely wrong here.

Yes I all for punishing those who steal and pirate -- but come on man....slamming the door harder on pirates than on rapists? That's all kinds of f'd up logic if you ask me!

looks like...
By Samus on 4/26/2006 2:31:26 PM , Rating: 2
This guy looks like Bush. A monkey!

RE: looks like...
By jconan on 4/27/2006 11:18:36 PM , Rating: 2
i thought he looked like the former v.p. dan quayle

By Hydrofirex on 4/26/2006 2:38:01 PM , Rating: 4
So, your kid downloads a free song, and Mom goes to jail for 10 years because she didn't know? This is outragious - and probably more a scare tactic than anything else. It'll get big news, and the mainstream will hear about it, then shuffle off thinking it's law. Meanwhile rational people will slap this down.

It's funny, some guy wrote a book about painting the country red and getting a republican majority of 60 votes so they can "do the things that America needs to have done." Another reason to vote Democrat!

By Brainonska511 on 4/26/2006 4:38:18 PM , Rating: 2
This is such a crappy bill, I hope it just dies in whatever committee it starts in.

As for the word piracy.... the 14 year old kid downloading music is not 'pirating.' He is merely committing copyright infringement, a civil matter. The real 'pirates' are the guys that make tons of illegal copies of a disc and sell them on the street corners all around the country.

RE: ugh
By The Battōsai on 4/26/2006 8:01:00 PM , Rating: 2
this is true. i can't believe how pathetic republicans are. sheesh

By shilala on 4/26/2006 8:32:44 PM , Rating: 2
Who's going to pay the bill to house a vicious pirate in jail for ten years?
We are.
The producers of this crap get richer and I get to help. Whether I want or not.
Intellectual property my ass. A strong 90% of ALL media produced today isn't fit for human consumption.
And I should pay to protect it?
I think not.
I'd be willing to agree to fines that fit the crime. Steal a $20 movie and the fine is equal to that of stealing it in a store. The criminal charge should also equal that.
Steal 10,000 $20 movies and the punishment should be similarly equal. Hand a piece of that to the RIAA.
I'm not sure why these people and these public officials think these producers of crap should be special or are somehow better than the average store owner, but this idiocy needs to stop.

By Odeen on 4/26/2006 11:32:18 PM , Rating: 2
Are you kidding me?!

Stealing a $20 DVD hurts people, because you steal a physical product. The store paid the distributor for A DVD, the distributor paid the manufacturer and the movie studio to produce A DVD, and the store is due to make a certain amount of money off the sale. By stealing the DVD, you deprive the store of that revenue.

On the other hand, copying a DVD does not actually COST anyone any money. Everyone's physical property is preserved, the DVD can be sold to another customer, and the economic damage is far less.

Stupid Politicians
By bpurkapi on 4/26/2006 1:10:48 PM , Rating: 2
Lets see two political types who don't know what the hell they are actually talking about, but get their information from the RIAA. Another shining example of what modern american politics is all about. The most dangerous part of this legislation is the fact that they target hacks, so if you or a friend attempt to work together on the hack you could be sent down the river, this is extreme to say the least and I will be contacting my Senators.

By segagenesis on 4/26/2006 1:57:56 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, according to this it would be easier on the judicial system to just shoplift what you desire and get a slap on the wrist compared to downloading it. The sentance hardly fits the crime, in this case you could send someone to 10 years in jail for downloading one song. Give me a freaking break... punishing piracy is one thing but hypothetically speaking if they managed to enforce this 100% then half the damn country would be in jail. I bet going nickle and dimes on this Senator you would find something that would put him in jail under his new proposed law.

Not to mention this puts several legitimate use products out of the realm of legality. Debuggers in compilers would technically be illegal (groan) or just debuggers in general. Useful software like daemon-tools would also be illegal. Both of which I use where I work, the latter of which I use to keep the originals of $3000 pieces of software from getting torn up in the field and just work off the virtual cd.

Yet again the rest of the world laughs at our country for how backwards we can get. Worry more about people trying to sell pirated software on the street corner or better yet murderers and rapists before worrying this badly about Johnny 15-year-old copying a few songs.

is RIAA going to pay?
By lucyfek on 4/26/2006 3:08:24 PM , Rating: 2
for all these prospective inmates. if so, they will get what they deserve. don't ask me to pay for kids in jails.

By GhandiInstinct on 4/26/2006 3:10:28 PM , Rating: 2
As if our jails weren't crammed enough? What is this going to prove? That our government would like to seize it's people for any reason possible? Reminds me of the Stalin era.

I mean seriously, if using technology to share media with people around the world(how about they ban the internet?)is a crime, then we need to replace these corporate mongels and conservative fiends.

As people have already stated...
By Wonga on 4/26/2006 3:28:05 PM , Rating: 2
You need to tell your representatives if you aren't happy with the proposed law.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-American, but I wouldn't want to live somewhere where a jail sentence is considered for something which should belong in a civil courtroom, not a criminal one.

By TravellingGuy on 4/26/2006 3:47:20 PM , Rating: 2
That's damn scary! I'm glad I'm Canadian! Canadian artists are forming a coalition to back file-sharing fans and support fans being sued by the hellspawn (i.e. RIAA).

Come on guys...
By Binkt on 4/26/2006 3:50:04 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't you know that pirates are really terrorists? You don't want to help terrorists by opposing this legislation right?

'cuz if your not with us, you're a terrorist too!

uh huh... we really need a regime change of our own here. Any takers?

If theres money to be made
By vertigo1 on 4/26/2006 4:13:18 PM , Rating: 2
Well if theres money to be made by the little weasels of the world... it would have to the morally challenged lawyers of the world who can probably get you more jail time for copying an MP3 than actually commiting a real crime....

what an asstard...
By ThisSpaceForRent on 4/27/2006 8:37:12 AM , Rating: 2
...and I sentence you to a federal, pound me in the a$$, penitentiary.

This strikes me as one of those laws that if it goes into effect, will get struck down in the Supreme Court. Did the guys from Enron and WorldCom even get hit with a sentence this hard? I could kill someone in a drunk driving accident and probably get less time in jail than this? Which is more harmful to society? Someone who steals intelluctual property or someone who takes a life? You know I used to laugh at the absurd news items on the Simcity cralwer, but one day I realized that real life wasn't far from fiction.

By Hulk on 4/27/2006 8:47:52 AM , Rating: 2
and ripping music and videos does, that's why the harsh sentence.

At the end of the day it's always about money and politics in America.

It's not about justice or doing what makes sense. It's about dollars and votes. Both parties are spineless on real matters.

10 years is a good start for a first offense.
By cornfedone on 4/26/06, Rating: -1
By GhandiInstinct on 4/26/2006 4:28:42 PM , Rating: 1
No, instead of punishing people, they should devise their products so that they are impervious to piracy, don't punish us for using what we're given, if it's so highly accessible and done with relative ease(My grandmother can pirate music) then that problem lies whithin it's production.

Security should be what they need to work on, not punishing innocent and complacent, think of it this way, that same person who downloads a song also buys a CD, how would they approach that situation in a trial?

By TomZ on 4/26/2006 4:46:24 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree - you can't put copyright infringement in the same category as rape, larceny, assault, etc. in terms of a jail sentence. It just doesn't make sense.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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