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Congress Decides To Criminalize The Average College Student

from the everybody-go-to-jail-now dept

Certainly lots of college kids commit illegal acts while away at university. For some, it's almost part of the purpose of going away to school. However, a new bill moving rapidly through Congress will quickly criminalize many college students and threaten them with five years in jail. According to this report, The House Judiciary Committee has approved (by voice vote) a bill that would make it a criminal act, punishable with up to five years in prison, to share 1,000 or more "copyrighted works." I don't know if that's the actual language of the bill, or just a misstatement by the author of the article. The way the law works these days, almost any content is automatically copyrighted, so if the wording is just "copyrighted works," even those distributing legitimate works (such as Creative Commons backed content or just documents you wrote yourself) would risk going to jail. Chances are they mean unauthorized works, though. Of course, the article also notes that the average college student has 1,100 unauthorized downloads on his or her computer. Assuming most of those students leave a file sharing app open, then that means the average college student may soon be a criminal facing five years in jail. Seems a bit... extreme. As someone in the article notes, this ratcheting up of the punishment does very little to actually deal with the root issue, but the recording industry isn't know for caring about root issues.

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  • identicon
    Billy J. West Jr., 8 Sep 2004 @ 5:12pm

    Don't do the crime...

    If you can't do the time.

    Believe it or not, distributing copyrighted works without authorization of the copyright holder IS a crime. Just because "lots of college kids commit illegal acts while away at university" does not make it right. I may not agree with the way the entertainment industry is handling things, but I also don't think that those breaking the law should go unpunished.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2004 @ 5:14pm

      Re: Don't do the crime...

      Give me a break. Who cares

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 8 Sep 2004 @ 6:06pm

      Re: Don't do the crime...

      You think throwing them in jail for five years is fair? For letting people hear the music they love? Our priorities are screwed up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      hanzie, 9 Sep 2004 @ 2:35am

      Re: Don't do the crime...

      You know, it might be more interesting to look at this from the opposite perspective. If so many people are violating the law, and if the violators of the law are looked upon as victims rather than as criminals by the vast majority of society, then maybe it's time to acknowledge that the law is wrong. After all, I always thought that the laws should reflect the will of the people, rather than being a tool for a minority to dictate their will against common opinion. Or am I wrong?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        KK, 9 Sep 2004 @ 7:16am

        "it's death to kill the King's deer,"

        A friend of mine is doing his doctoral dissertation on a comparison of "data" crimes with the ever escalating "Forest Law" in pre-Norman England.
        William Rufus (1087-1100) is supposed to have increased the severity of penalties for flouting Forest Law - death and mutilation apparently the penalties for interference with the King's deer. Killing a deer was punishable by death. Those that shot at a deer had their hands cut off and blinding was the penalty for disturbing the deer.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Adam, 9 Sep 2004 @ 9:01am

          Re: "it's death to kill the King's deer,"

          I find it amazing that a 13 yr old king could be so brutal! (1087-1100)

          Even Wikipedia knows his Birthday. Ok, I digress...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Adam, 9 Sep 2004 @ 9:06am

            One more thing...

            More to the point of the topic:

            Are we actually arguing here that just because the "average college student" violates these copyright laws that they should be changed or not enforced?

            Having recently finished undergrad, I would venture to say that MORE college students drink underage than share files. Have our underage drinking laws changed at all just because they're relatively unenforcable and are violated en masse?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dorpus, 8 Sep 2004 @ 7:56pm

    What about criminalizing cliched anti-RIAA preache

    5-year sentences sound good.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      alternatives, 9 Sep 2004 @ 6:49am

      Re: What about criminalizing cliched anti-RIAA pre

      5-year sentences sound good.

      Yup. Lets start with the sons/daughters and grandsons/granddaughters of the Congress and other people who work for the federal government.

      Oh, and the soldiers. They have ADMITTED to swapping songs. So lets lock 'em up to.

      Right Dorpud?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Reality bites, 14 Sep 2014 @ 9:37am

      RIAA = criminals, parasites and liars

      nothing more than a criminal cartel that steals from the legitimate creators of the wealth.

      Ask the artist how much the riaa benefits them.... ZERO!
      RIAA is a large group of blood sucking corporate parasites.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mattb, 9 Sep 2004 @ 7:26am

    Sentences should fit the crime

    The subject says it all. It is against the law to trade copyrighted work- the reason for it doesn't matter. The songs cost to much, the RIAA makes too much money and is mean, yadda, yadda. I agree, but it is still stealing. That being the case, I don't think it ranks up there with armed robbery, murder, drunk-driving, even shoplifting. Who are you hurting my trading songs- basically you are not giving money to the record companies and to the artists (though they get little anyway). Is this the same as physically hurting someone, stealing something, or causing damage- physical or electronic? I don't think so. How about a slap on the wrist, or probation, or community service, or a small fine (couple hundred or less) for people that are trading a lot of songs (1000 or above sounds good enough to me). The punishment can get worse the more times a person is convicted, just like with other crimes. But alas, Congress is it the back pocket of the entertainment industry or whomever will pay them enough to be re-elected.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      thecaptain, 9 Sep 2004 @ 9:09am

      Re: Sentences should fit the crime

      it's NOT stealing.

      it's NOT theft.

      Its copyright infringement.

      Whether its really a crime or not, I'll let others debate.

      But it is NOT robbery, its NOT piracy, its NOT theft. Lets start calling a spade a spade.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      alternatives, 9 Sep 2004 @ 2:03pm

      Re: Sentences should fit the crime

      It is against the law to trade copyrighted work

      And enforcement should start with the staff that runs the government and their childern.

      Where is the RIAA suit VS the armed service people in Iraq? http://asoldiersview.com/-they all legal MP3's? Or how about Paul Allen's multi-terabyte MP3 server - is everything on it properly licensed?

      If the RIAA doesn't have the balls to go after soldiers or congress staffers, I have no reason to care about their bitching and moaning.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Travelsonic, 28 Nov 2004 @ 4:02pm

      Re: Sentences should fit the crime

      "It is against the law to trade copyrighted work- the reason for it doesn't matter"


      If you have permission to share it from thecopyright holder, it is perfectly legal. Period.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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