New bill would outlaw 'attempted' piracy

— 12:44 PM on May 15, 2007

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is pushing Congress to enact a bill dubbed the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007 that would outlaw "attempted" copyright infringement, according to a report by CNet. To justify criminalizing attempted piracy, the bill (PDF) states, "It is a general tenet of the criminal law that those who attempt to commit a crime but do not complete it are as morally culpable as those who succeed in doing so." In order to give law enforcement officers "access to the full range of accepted law enforcement tools when they investigate intellectual property crimes," the bill proposes to permit wiretaps to investigate citizens "attempting" to infringe copyrights. The legislation would also make computers "intended to be used in any manner" for copyright infringement subject to civil asset forfeiture.

CNet questions the respone the bill is likely to encounter in Congress. However, the site also quotes Texas Representative Lamar Smith—the ranking minority member on the House Judiciary Committee—as saying, "We are reviewing (the attorney general's) proposal. Any plan to stop IP theft will benefit the economy and the American worker. I applaud the attorney general for recognizing the need to protect intellectual property."

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