Hitting Hard

Piracy laws just got tougher.
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This story appears in the June 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The government is cracking down on those who threaten intellectual property rights. Consider the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005, which says anyone caught making an unauthorized recording at a movie theater can be sentenced to up to three years in jail. The same goes for those convicted of infringing on any copyrighted work "being prepared for commercial distribution."

In October, the Sentencing Commission toughened prison sentences for people convicted of illegal file swapping. Now, violators can get 10 to 16 months in jail for uploading a pirated file--even if no one downloads it.

Then there's the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Act making its way through Congress, which asserts that piracy of intellectual property is being used to finance terrorism. The law would establish an enforcement network aimed at purging counterfeit and pirated goods from the international supply chain.

Still in committee, the Intellectual Property Protection Act would make "attempting to infringe a copyright" a crime. Those convicted would have to compensate the copyright holder for losses and possibly serve jail time. It's yet another sign of the government's hardening attitude toward piracy.

Knowing that those making a business of distributing stolen works will have to watch out is good news for businesses that create these works in the first place.

Jane Easter Bahls is a writer in Rock Island, Illinois, specializing in business and legal topics.
Edition: September 2017

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