November 10, 2005

Justice Dept. proposes tougher copyright laws

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People who attempt to copy music or
movies without permission could face jail time under
legislation proposed by the U.S. Justice Department on

The bill, outlined by U.S. Attorney General Alberto
Gonzales at an anti-piracy summit, would widen
intellectual-property protections to cover those who try but
fail to make illicit copies of music, movies, software or other
copyrighted material.

It would also enable investigators to seize assets
purchased with profits from the sale of illicit copies, as well
as property such as blank CDs that might be used for future

Those found guilty of a copyright violation could be forced
to pay restitution to the owner of the material in question,
and repeat offenders would face stiffer sentences.

"This legislation is a reflection of the sustained
commitment on the part of the Bush Administration, including
the Department of Justice, to ensure that we are doing
everything we can to combat this problem," Gonzales said in a
press release.

A recording-industry trade group praised the bill, but a
public-interest group, Public Knowledge, said the Justice
Department should consider measures that would protect
consumers' fair-use rights as well.

The bill has not yet been introduced in Congress.

Congress in recent years has strengthened copyright laws to
help media companies battling the widespread copying of their
works, and law enforcers have increasingly targeted groups that
release movies on the Internet hours after they appear in

The U.S. Supreme Court also struck a blow for the
entertainment industry in June when it ruled 9-0 that Internet
file-trading companies can be held liable if they induce users
to break copyright laws.