Third Party & Independents Archives

Swapping Illegal MP3s Could Become Felony

In an obtuse reply to the problem of file-swapping and music/movie pirating, Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.) have introduced a new bill that could send law-breakers to federal prison for 5 years and a $10,000 fine per offense. Also included in the bill, called the Author, Consumer and Computer Owner Protection and Security Act of 2003, or ACCOPS [PDF], was a similar penalty for domain owners that “knowingly and with intent to defraud provides material and misleading false contact information to […] in registering a domain name”.

One argument that may make the bill unconstitutional is it’s overt heavy-handedness is the 8th amendment: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”. One could argue that imposing a $10,000 fine plus prison time for theft of a $1.50 song ($15 avg cd price / 10 avg # songs) is tantamount to cruel punishment.

Posted by Stephen VanDyke at July 17, 2003 1:48 PM