Immigration Board Says You Can Be Deported For Copyright Infringement

from the moral-turpitude dept

While we still wait to see if Kim Dotcom can be taken against his will from another country into the US for “copyright infringement” claims, apparently the DOJ has also decided that it can work the other way. The Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals has said that people can be deported for copyright infringement. Apparently the law (the Immigration and Nationality Act) says that non-citizens can be deported if they commit crimes “involving moral turpitude” but had never weighed in on whether or not copyright infringement counted. But now they have:

On Friday, leaning heavily on precedent that previously declared criminal trademark infringement a CMT, the board said criminal copyright violations ?must also be a crime involving moral turpitude.?

?Like the use of a spurious trademark … respondent?s copyright infringement also involves significant societal harm,? BIA member Hugh Mullane wrote in Friday?s ruling. ?Congress has made clear that copyright infringement enforcement is an important priority and that the risks and costs associated with intellectual property crime are significant.?

To be fair, this was a case of criminal copyright infringement, and not civil copyright infringement — and the board noted that because criminal copyright infringement requires the showing of “willfulness,” it suffices for the “moral turpitude” question. The person in question, Raul Zaragoza-Vaquero, had been arrested for selling 800 copied CDs to an RIAA investigator. He received 33 months in prison and had to pay $36,000… and was then told he had to leave the country.

The fact that it’s only for criminal copyright infringement is certainly better than it being for any copyright infringement, but we’ve seen some bizarre attempts to turn what clearly should be civil copyright infringement cases into criminal ones (the Kim Dotcom case being but one example).

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Comments on “Immigration Board Says You Can Be Deported For Copyright Infringement”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You win the prize.

I once upon a time helped someone who was in the immigration process who ran afoul of a copyright troll. I referred them to a Doe Defender I knew because they just wanted to settle, because they were terrified anything making it to court derailing the immigration process. I knew the Doe Defender would do what the Doe wanted, would understand the reason, & make sure any agreement would protect the Doe. Had the troll figured out the reason, they would have doubled or tripled the demand.

It makes me sad that this person was forced to settle a claim not because they were guilty, but because there was a pressure point giving all of the power to a troll who can say anything they want on the record & be unchallenged.

Skeeter says:

Re: Re:

On a counter-note, dozens kill, rape, rob and assault others each day in this country, some in ‘Sanctuary Cities’, where the police and local government won’t even call Immigration to consider deporting them.

Seems that ‘moral crimes’ only involve damage to capital investments, human lives need not apply.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“On a counter-note, dozens kill, rape, rob and assault others each day in this country, some in ‘Sanctuary Cities’, where the police and local government won’t even call Immigration to consider deporting them.”

Yeah, those damned immigrunts – our Grade A USA citizens would never do anything like what those dirty illegals do.

“Seems that ‘moral crimes’ only involve damage to capital investments”

Many self righteous folk may disagree with you on that.

Beech says:

Unintended Consequences

I think they’re taking a risk kicking these criminal scum out of the country. If someone gets deported for Piracy, they’ll probably go to a country known for their unbridled disdain for intellectual property like (let me check my Special 301 report here…) Canada. Once there their terrible crimes will probably only be aggravated!

No, it is much safer just to lock these scumballs in for-profit prison for the rest of their lives.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Wasn't there that one article a little while ago...

They weren’t being prosecuted, but they were threatening deportation for refusal to pay their extortion-masquerading-as-copyright demands, and something like this is likely to take that tactic and make it ten times more popular among the parasites, because now they actually have a case they can point to and say ‘See, you absolutely can be deported for copyright infringement, now pay up or ship out’.

Anonymous Coward says:


I am not a fan of the MafiAA’s or anything but fuck, if an immigrant is “criminally” breaking the law, then yes… they should be fucking deported.

Any criminal breach of the law should get an immigrant de-fucking-ported. Welcome to America! Just don’t fucking commit a crime… how is this too fucking much to ask?

I would be inclined to call bullshit had this been more ambiguous. That said, I do disagree with the fucking jail time, fuck that shit, just send them home. Why should my tax dollars go towards incarceration instead of just removing them from the country with prejudice?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Some crimes with a lower maximum sentence than 33 months (in Florida as an example):

Sale of alcohol to minors
Cruelty to animals
Failure to report child abuse
Exploitation of Minor under 18 (with sexual or obscene motion pictures or presentations)
Shoplifting up to $300
Obstructing of justice
Highway Shootings at Lights, Signs Etc

So selling bootleg CDs is considered worse than all of those.

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