Under the terms of the proposed law, illegally downloading just one song would become a Federal felony, which could land the offender in jail.
Michael Jackson was shocked when he heard about the proposed law, "I am speechless about the idea of putting music fans in jail for downloading music" reads a statement from Jackson. "It is wrong to illegally download, but the answer cannot be jail."
Jackson, like many others, sees the penalties in the law as excessive. For example, if the law passes, fans could face up to 5 years in jail and a $250,000 fine is convicted of illegally downloading a copyrighted song from a P2P service like Kazaa.
Jackson criticized the music industry to fighting emerging technologies instead of embracing them. "Here in America we create new opportunities out of adversity, not punitive laws and we should look to new technologies, like Apple's new Music Store for solutions" Jackson says.
"This way innovation continues to be the hallmark of America. It is the fans that drive the success of the music business; I wish this would not be forgotten."
The “Authors, Consumer and Computer Owners Protection and Security Act” was introduced into the House of Representatives last week by Congressmen John Conyers (D - Mich.) and Howard Berman (D – Ca.)
Assumptions made in the proposed Bill would make it a felony to trade a digital copy of a copyrighted material online. They do this by assuming that each file is copies at least 10 times at a retail value of $2500, which places it in the threshold of a felony offense.
"While existing laws have been useful in stemming this problem, they simply do not go far enough," said the Act’s Co-sponsor Conyers, who is the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee.
At this we have to ask, aren’t Democrats supposed to be all about sharing and giving things away?
Billboard reported last Thursday (July 17) that “A Conyers staffer said the bill had won the backing of many Democrats but Republicans had yet to endorse it. The staffer said backers hoped to discuss the bill at a hearing today and combine it next week with another sponsored by Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, who chairs an intellectual-property subcommittee. “
The Bill introduced by Lamar Smith, "Piracy Deterrence and Education Act of 2003," mandates that the FBI director “develop a program to deter members of the public from committing acts of copyright infringement by offering on the Internet copies of copyrighted works, or making copies of copyrighted works from the Internet . . . and facilitate the sharing among law enforcement agencies, Internet service providers, and copyright owners of information concerning [these] activities."
The Lamar Bill also stipulates that the Attorney General partake in copyright education campaigns. Opponents of the Bill are quick to blast it and some feel that it is unconstitutional. Once advocacy group, Home Recording Rights Coalition says, "Federal law prohibits such data collection without a search warrant, and FBI 'warnings' to consumers about conduct that may be entirely legal seem unconstitutional."
There was no word at press time if the backers of these individual bills would join forces to consolidate the two separate pieces of legislation before the House of Representatives. But we are pretty sure the FBI has far more important things to do than to track down and arrest people who share music and films online.