Monday, October 03, 2005

COPYRIGHT: In 1997, Clinton signs bill criminalizing copyright theft without profit motive

Posted Dec. 16, 1997

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Clinton signed into law Tuesday a
controversial bill imposing criminal penalties on copyright violators who do
not profit from their actions, the White House executive clerk's office said

The No Electronic Theft Act, passed by Congress last month, was strongly
backed by the software and entertainment industries but opposed by science
and academic groups.

Under the law, a person who "willfully" infringes on copyrighted material
worth at least $1,000 could be subject to criminal prosecution even if there
is no profit from the infringement. Under current law, copyright violators
cannot be charged with criminal misconduct unless they profit from the

Software and entertainment groups, including the Business Software
Alliance, the Motion Picture Association and the Association of American
Publishers, said the change is essential to protect software, music
recordings and other creative products easily pirated over the Internet.
They cited a 1994 court case dismissing criminal copyright infringement
charges against a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student who posted
copies of popular software programs on the Internet for free downloading.

But last month a leading group of scientists, the Association for
Computing, wrote to Clinton asking him to veto the bill because it might
inadvertently criminalize many scientific publications available over the
Internet, and might limit the "fair use" doctrine.

The new law includes a sliding scale of penalties depending on the severity
of the copyright infringement.

For making one or more copies with a total retail value of at least $1,000
but less than $2,500, the violator could be imprisoned for up to one year
and fined up to $100,000.

For copies with a retail value of $2,500 or more, the violator could be
imprisoned for up to three years and fined up to $250,000. A second offense
could lead to a prison term of up to six years.


This article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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