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For immediate release
Background: The Justice Department yesterday sent to Capitol Hill a package of proposed intellectual property laws that included making attempted copyright infringement a criminal offense, increasing penalties for violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and setting a life sentence if a "counterfeiting offense" results in a harm to the public's health and safety.
The following is the statement of Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:
It is unfortunate that the Administration felt the need to bring back a legislative package that was full of bad ideas when it was proposed in 2005 and continues to be full of bad ideas today.
As we said then, we support the enforcement of copyright law and the protection of copyright holders' rights. We remain concerned that the Justice Department's (DoJ) proposal attempts to enforce copyright law in ways it has never before been enforced. Making the 'attempt' at copyright infringement the same as actual infringement is an ill-conceived concept.
The penalties in this bill are out of touch with reality. They range from destroying computers for potentially legitimate use, to life imprisonment for improbable uses of counterfeit goods. These penalties would be more appropriate for far more serious criminal offenses.
We wish DoJ had devoted more analysis to examining the fair use rights of consumers while presenting a more balanced view of the law.
The DoJ proposal is here: