Congress closes the 'LaMacchia loophole' -- NOT!

Rohit Khare (
Thu, 20 Nov 1997 12:33:01 -0800

[Sigh. This is really ridiculous legislation. The crime is in the selling.
Otherwise, leave it to the civil section. Let 'em go redirect their lobbying
dollars to ferreting out their foes, like A. F. Rifkin's mixtapes collection

Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997 12:02:39 -0500
From: Declan McCullagh <>
Subject: FC: More on new U.S. copyright crime

Congress has voted to make not-for-profit copyright infringments a federal
felony, as I write in my article at:,1042,1588,00.html

A Federal court in _LaMacchia_ noted that: "Since 1897, when criminal
copyright infringement was first introduced into U.S. copyright law, the
concept differentiating criminal from civil copyright violations has been
that the infringement must be pursued for purposes of commercial

The Supreme Court in Dowling v. United States, 473 U.S. 207 (1985) said:

...Interference with copyright does not easily equate with
theft, conversion or fraud. The Copyright Act even
employs a separate term of art to define one who
misappropriates a copyright: "Anyone who violates any
of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner..." [...]
The infringer invades a statutorily defined province
guaranteed to the copyright holder alone. But he does not
assume physical control over the copyright; nor does he
wholly deprive its owner of its use. While one may
colloquially like infringement with some general notion
of wrongful appropriation, infringement plainly
implicates a more complex set of property interests than
does run-of-the-mill theft, conversion or fraud.

This now changes. For the first time in the history of the U.S., nonprofit,
noncommercial copying will be a crime.

- -Declan


The Netly News (
November 20, 1997

Copyrights and Wrongs
By Declan McCullagh (

If you think nothing of trading copyrighted software with
your friends, think again. A new law passed by Congress
will make even casual copyright breach a crime punishable
by a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in a federal

While you're cooling your heels in Club Fed, you'll
have plenty of time to consider your misdeeds -- which in
this case could have been making just three copies of Adobe
Photoshop (cost: $389). The legislation covers anyone who
copies compact discs, videocasettes or computer software
worth at least $1,000. The No Electronic Theft Act, which
President Clinton is expected to sign later this month,
will be the first law in the history of the U.S. to
imprison copiers looking to save (not make) a few bucks.

The President's signature will come not a nanosecond
too soon for the software and recording industry lobbyists
who have demanded this legislation for years. "The function
of the criminal copyright law is to deter people from
commercial-scale piracy, just as it is to penalize those
who prosecutors take to court," says Mark Traphagen, vice
president of the Software Publishers Association, the
software industry's largest trade organization.