When Even The Librarians Are Against SOPA...
from the damn-pirates,-all-of-them dept
The libraries highlight two key concerns. The first is how Section 201(c) of SOPA appears to significantly change the definition of "willful" infringement. As you may know, under current Copyright law, if you're found guilty of "willful" infringement, statutory damages can rise from a maximum of $30k (for not willful) all the way up to a maximum of $150k. Plaintiffs in copyright lawsuits often claim every infringement is willful, but there are actual standards. SOPA appears to change the standard for willfulness in a massive way -- such that a lot more infringement would be deemed willful. In fact, it would go all the way to the level of saying nearly every infringement was willful (with the exception of "innocent" infringement, which is almost never allowed by courts).
This rule of construction creates a negative implication that a person is a willful infringer if the person did not have a good faith reasonable basis in law for believing that his conduct was lawful. Thus, if a court finds that the person's belief was unreasonable, the court might consider him a willful infringer, even if the person in good faith believed his actions were legal. Under current law, however, this level of intent constitutes ordinary infringement, not willful infringement. In other words, the rule of construction could have the effect of collapsing the three levels of intent into two: willful infringement and innocent infringement. The willful infringement level would swallow the ordinary infringement level, thereby significantly broadening the range of activities subject to criminal sanctions.Next up, the libraries point out that SOPA, unlike S.978 (the Senate's streaming bill), takes away the requirement that infringement be for commercial purposes to be declared criminal. For libraries, that's clearly a scary change. The libraries fear that under SOPA, they're hugely liable and at risk of being dragged into court:
In this environment, the criminal prosecution of a library for copyright infringement is no longer beyond the realm of possibility. For this reason, we strongly oppose the amendments described above, which would increase the exposure of libraries to prosecution. The broadening of the definition of willful infringement could result in a criminal prosecution if an Assistant U.S. Attorney believes that a libraryís assertion of fair use or one of the Copyright Actís other privileges is unreasonable. This risk is compounded with streaming, which SOPA would subject to felony penalties even if conducted without purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain.Those damn "pirate" libraries, huh?