The Null Device

Swap a MP3, go to jail

If you're in the US and you've ever used a peer-to-peer network and swapped copyrighted files, chances are pretty good you're guilty of a federal felony. It doesn't matter if you've forsworn Napster, uninstalled Kazaa and now are eagerly padding the record industry's bottom line by snapping up $15.99 CDs by the cartload. Be warned--you're what prosecutors like to think of as an unindicted federal felon.
The law even grants copyright holders the right to hand a "victim impact statement" to the judge at your trial, meaning you can expect an appearance from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) or the Business Software Alliance (BSA), depending on what kind of files were on your hard drive. You'll no longer have that hard drive, of course, because it'll have been seized by the FBI, and you'll be in jail.
The NET Act works in two ways: In general, violations are punishable by one year in prison, if the total value of the files exceeds $1,000; or, if the value tops $2,500, not more than five years in prison. Also, if someone logs on to a file-trading network and shares even one MP3 file without permission in "expectation" that others will do the same, full criminal penalties kick in automatically.

No peer-to-peer users have been prosecuted yet, but there is a lot of pressure from the RIAA on the Department of Justice now to begin such prosecutions. Which means some poor bastard is about to get crucified. (via FmH)

There are 1 comments on "Swap a MP3, go to jail":

Posted by: Bowie http://realkosh.weblogs.com/ Wed Jan 29 03:42:24 2003

Surely they'd only have a case if someone actually downloaded from you $1000+ worth of copyrighted material. Just because you shared (ie. indicated to the world you had a file and made it available for download) doesn't mean anyone took up your offer. If no-one downloads, there is no impact. And what happens in cases like Kazza downloading partial files. Am I only guilty of sharing 10% of a movie, thus, about $3 worth?

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