Last year, when Alberto Gonzales was under pressure from Congress, he suddenly started spending a lot of time talking about stricter copyright laws
. Perhaps it gave him a distraction from repeating "I do not recall" all day in front of Congress. His proposal was basically a laundry list of the entertainment industry's desired changes to copyright law, including making "attempted infringement" a crime. Despite the fact that copyright law is pretty clear that an actual violation needs to happen first, this would shift the standard so that if you just attempted to infringe, you could be found guilty of the full infringement itself. While Gonzales' efforts went nowhere, William Patry is pointing out that Congress may have backdoored in this "attempted" clause late last year
through the Orwellianly-titled Criminal Code Modernization and Simplification Act
. In that act, it notes that: "Unless otherwise provided by law, whoever attempts to commit an offense shall be punished as is provided for the completed offense." When it comes to copyright law in the bill, no exception is provided. Patry points to the recent story of the guy sent to jail for just clicking a link
to give you a suggestion of where this new law will allow complaints to go. It's not a pretty picture.