TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: U.S. Senate Passes Scaled-Back Copyright Measure

U.S. Senate Passes Scaled-Back Copyright Measure

Lisa Minter (
Mon, 22 Nov 2004 11:50:04 EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate has voted to outlaw several
favorite techniques of people who illegally copy and distribute
movies, but has dropped other measures that could have led to jail
time for Internet song-swappers.

People who secretly videotape movies when they are shown in theaters
could go to prison for up to three years under the measure, which
passed the Senate on Saturday.

Hackers and industry insiders who distribute music, movies or other
copyrighted works before their official release date also face
stiffened penalties under the bill.

"This bill strengthens the intellectual-property laws that are vital
to the ongoing growth of our economy," Utah Republican Sen. Orrin
Hatch said.

Most elements of the bill have already passed the House of
Representatives but will need to be approved by the House again in
December to iron out minor differences.

Left out were several more controversial measures that would
criminalize the actions of millions of U.S. Internet users who copy
music and movies for free over "peer to peer" networks like Kazaa.

These users now face copyright-infringement lawsuits from recording
labels and movie studios, and thousands have been hit with such suits
since last year.

Under a measure approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last month,
song swappers could go to jail for up to three years if they shared
more than 1,000 copyrighted works.

That bill would have also directed the Justice Department to pursue
file-traders more actively through civil lawsuits.

Consumer groups, consumer-electronics makers and the American
Conservative Union had sought to derail those measures, portraying
them as a radical expansion of traditional copyright protections.

That material was dropped from the bill, but the Justice Department
said on its own last month it plans to take a more aggressive approach
to policing intellectual-property crimes.

The bill also shields "family friendly" services like ClearPlay that
strip violent or sexually explicit scenes from movies. Hollywood
groups say such services violate their copyrighted works by altering
them without permission.

A section that would have made it illegal to edit out commercials was

Earlier in the week Congress approved a measure that would streamline
the process by which royalty rates are determined.

Another measure that would have made it easier to sue peer-to-peer
networks died in committee last month, though insiders expect Congress
to take it up again next year.

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