[pcductape] Re: Are you an unindicted federal felon?

  • From: "Pam" <ltf01@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <pcductape@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 27 Jan 2003 14:15:15 -0600

Me too !!   Or should that be Me neither!

I enjoy music but on the radio, or one of the many music only channels we
can get from our satellite company (not like MTV-these don't display
pictures and the screen is black and the music is of a certain type or
style), not on the computer.  When I'm at my computer I'm usually doing
stuff that takes concentration.  The last thing I want is something that
will cause distraction.


>Glad I've never used Kazaa!
>Perspective: The new jailbird jingle
>By Declan McCullagh
>January 27, 2003, 4:00 AM PT
>WASHINGTON--If you've ever used a peer-to-peer network and swapped
>copyrighted files, chances are pretty good you're guilty of a federal
>It doesn't matter if you've forsworn Napster, uninstalled Kazaa and now
>are eagerly padding the record industry's bottom line by snapping up
>$15.99 CDs by the cartload.
>Be warned--you're what prosecutors like to think of as an unindicted
>federal felon.
>I'm not joking. A obscure law called the No Electronic Theft (NET) Act
>that former U.S. President Bill Clinton signed in 1997 makes
>peer-to-peer (P2P) pirates liable for $250,000 in fines and subject to
>prison terms of up to three years. (You may want to read it, since
>you'll likely be hearing more about it soon.)
>That's a long time to spend cooling your heels in Club Fed.
>Yet something strange is going on here. So far the Justice Department
>has made precisely zero prosecutions of peer-to-peer users under the NET
>This odd delay is not because peer-to-peer piracy is legal. It's not.
>The NET Act covers people who willfully participate in the "reproduction
>or distribution" of copyrighted works without permission, when that
>activity is not covered by fair use rights.
>The law even grants copyright holders the right to hand a "victim impact
>statement" to the judge at your trial, meaning you can expect an
>appearance from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA),
>the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) or the Business
>Software Alliance (BSA), depending on what kind of files were on your
>hard drive. You'll no longer have that hard drive, of course, because
>it'll have been seized by the FBI, and you'll be in jail.
>Fretting that not enough peer-to-peer pirates are already in the
>slammer, a band of congressmen asked Attorney General John Ashcroft last
>July to begin some NET Act prosecutions, pronto. Their letter complained
>of "a staggering increase in the amount of intellectual property pirated
>over the Internet through peer-to-peer systems." The 19
>politicos--including Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., Rep. James
>Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.--urged
>Ashcroft "to prosecute individuals who intentionally allow mass copying
>from their computer over peer-to-peer neworks."
>It didn't take long for the Justice Department to respond. A few weeks
>later, John Malcolm, a deputy assistant attorney general, said to expect
>some NET Act prosecutions. "There does have to be some kind of a public
>message that stealing is stealing is stealing," said Malcolm, who
>oversees the arm of the Justice Department that prosecutes copyright and
>computer crime cases.
>Since then, however, there's been nothing but silence. The Justice
>Department has been tight-lipped about its plans, and did not reply to a
>request for comment on Friday.
>To duck a conviction, you'd have to, in essence, prove you were an
>idiot. Not a problem for some, but a big problem for most file-sharers,
>I suspect.
>--Polk Wagner, assistant professor, University of Pennsylvania Law
>Yet there are signs that prosecutions are coming soon. A person close to
>the RIAA told me that it has had recent meetings with the Justice
>A second hint that pressure on the Justice Department is increasing lies
>in a statement of principles that the RIAA signed this month with the
>Computer Systems Policy Project and the BSA. The trio of groups say they
>want more "governmental enforcement actions against infringers."
>For its part, the RIAA sent me a statement on Friday that seems to back
>that up: "We are in constant communication with various law enforcement
>agencies about all forms of piracy. It's illegal, and there clearly is
>an important role that law enforcement can play...It's important to
>remember that a 'Kazaa user' trafficking in copyrighted music without
>permission is doing something that is clearly illegal, as numerous
>courts have held that uploading and downloading copyrighted works
>without permission constitutes direct infringement. And it is
>well-established that copyright infringement can be a federal crime, so
>government enforcement seems perfectly appropriate."
>Bob Kruger, BSA's vice president of enforcement, says his group is not
>actively lobbying for prosecutions of peer-to-peer users, but would not
>oppose them, either. "Industry has an obligation to make law enforcement
>aware of the problems that beset it," Kruger said. "Congress has
>recognized that government enforcement efforts are part of the overall
>History of the law
>Rampant file-swapping is precisely the activity that the NET Act was
>designed to punish. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the co-chairman of the
>Congressional Internet Caucus, drafted the law to close what had become
>known as the "LaMacchia Loophole."
>In 1994, David LaMacchia was a junior at the Massachusetts Institute of
>Technology who was charged with wire fraud for creating a file-swapping
>site on the Internet. But a federal judge dismissed the criminal
>charges, ruling that although LaMacchia could be sued in civil court, he
>was not guilty as charged. "It is not clear that making criminals of a
>large number of consumers of computer software is a result that even the
>software industry would consider desirable," said U.S. District Judge
>Richard Stearns.
>In an e-mail to me, Goodlatte said: "We would like to see more done to
>help guard against the wholesale violation of our copyright laws. We
>have helped secure additional funding for the Department of Justice to
>enforce the NET Act."
>The NET Act works in two ways: In general, violations are punishable by
>one year in prison, if the total value of the files exceeds $1,000; or,
>if the value tops $2,500, not more than five years in prison. Also, if
>someone logs on to a file-trading network and shares even one MP3 file
>without permission in "expectation" that others will do the same, full
>criminal penalties kick in automatically.
>The odds of any specific person getting busted are pretty low, but
>someone's going to be a test case.
>"I'd imagine there are, at minimum, several thousand file-swappers
>meeting this definition," said Polk Wagner, who teaches copyright law at
>the University of Pennsylvania. To duck a conviction, said Polk, "you'd
>have to, in essence, prove you were an idiot. Not a problem for some,
>but a big problem for most file sharers, I suspect."
>Jessica Litman, a professor at Wayne State University Law School, says
>achieving a conviction wouldn't be trivial for prosecutors. "For
>purposes of a criminal prosecution, you'd have to show more than that
>the defendant made the files available--you'd have to show that she
>actually made or distributed copies," Litman says. "Not too difficult
>using today's tools, but you would need to show the actual copying of
>the file by third parties rather than merely proving that defendant
>downloaded the files into her share directory."
>There already have been successful prosecutions under the NET Act of Web
>pirates--but not of peer-to-peer pirates.
>In 2001, a 21-year-old Michigan man named Brian Baltutat was
>successfully prosecuted under the NET Act for posting a mere 142
>software programs on the "Hacker Hurricane" Web site. Jason Spatafore,
>25, pleaded guilty to posting just one movie on the Web--"Star Wars:
>Episode I - The Phantom Menace"--in December 2000.
>A quick check of Kazaa on Friday afternoon showed that there were 4.1
>million users online, sharing some 800 million files. The odds of any
>specific person getting busted are pretty low, but someone's going to be
>a test case. Got your lawyer ready?
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