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).

Filed Under: copyright, deportation, doj, infringement, moral turpitude


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Sep 2016 @ 2:46pm

    If you think they won't try to expand this to all copyright infringement, I've got a bridge I need to sell in Brooklyn.

    So quick poll...
    Who'll abuse this first?

    - The Cartels
    - The Copyright Trolls

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

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 27 Sep 2016 @ 3:18pm

      Re:

      - Billionaires wanting their next eastern-European supermodel wife? ("She copied Michelle Obama's speech!")

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 27 Sep 2016 @ 3:44pm

      Re:

      The trolls, hands down. They're in it for the easy money, and being able to threaten someone with deportation makes for one hell of a threat.

      That same threat isn't nearly as impactful when you're trying to shut down a competitor, as odds are they can afford to fight back.

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

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Sep 2016 @ 2:31pm

        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.

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

    • identicon
      Skeeter, 27 Sep 2016 @ 10:37pm

      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.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2016 @ 5:34am

        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.

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

  • icon
    Peter (profile), 27 Sep 2016 @ 3:30pm

    Would that be the same DOJ that let Apple go with a slap on the wrist after Apple defrauded ebook users by billions of dollars when they initiated a criminal copyright cartel?

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

  • identicon
    Beech, 27 Sep 2016 @ 3:30pm

    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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2016 @ 4:47pm

    Moral Turpitude

    Moral turpitude or is it moral turpentine... just the thing to erase copyright infringement.

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

  • identicon
    Daydream, 27 Sep 2016 @ 4:48pm

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

    About trademark or copyright or whatever trolls being prosecuted because it was illegal to claim that failing to cooperate could result in being deported, or whatever?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 27 Sep 2016 @ 4:59pm

      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'.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2016 @ 5:39pm

    I think we all know who is morality challenged in this story

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2016 @ 7:15pm

    Definition of "pirate": an RIAA investigator.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2016 @ 7:42pm

    Seriously?

    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?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2016 @ 8:37pm

    I wasn't aware that they were enforcing the laws presently on the books.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 27 Sep 2016 @ 9:00pm

    I'm gom

    "The Justice Department's Board of Immigration Appeals has said that people can be deported for copyright infringement."

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

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 27 Sep 2016 @ 9:00pm

    why only non citizens why not make it equally stupid and make it apply to all, save of course those that are currently as above the laws to the detriment of society.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 27 Sep 2016 @ 9:01pm

    I'm gomnna violate the law

    "The Justice Department's Board of Immigration Appeals has said that people can be deported for copyright infringement."

    Fiji, here I come!

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

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 27 Sep 2016 @ 9:51pm

    The funny thing is

    If they do manage to extradite Kim Dotcom, and then railroad him (and oooooooh boy will they ever), after he gets out many decades later, all they'll do is immediately deport him back to NZ. It all seems like a huge waste of our taxes.

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

  • identicon
    Whatever, 28 Sep 2016 @ 12:21am

    Finally, some good news for a change. Now I can work on getting that fuck PaulT out of the UK, since he hates paying taxes there.

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

  • icon
    Eldakka (profile), 28 Sep 2016 @ 12:54am

    WTF? best part of 3 years in prison, and $36k in fines, for 800 CDs? Seriously?

    People get less than that for acts that result in deaths.

    Ok ok, maybe he's been caught before, like 5 or 6 times with just wrist slaps. In that case maybe.

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 28 Sep 2016 @ 4:25am

      Re:

      Copyright is more valuable than life, obviously. Think of all these dead creators, how will they live a tranquil afterlife without all the monies!

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 28 Sep 2016 @ 8:26am

      Re:

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

      DUI
      Sale of alcohol to minors
      Cruelty to animals
      Battery
      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.

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


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