A News.com article revealed yesterday that the US Department of Justice is ready to start prosecuting illegal file-swappers. The article quotes a deputy assistant attorney general, John Malcolm, who says that criminal prosecution is needed to protect the entertainment industryis interests. From the article:
"There does have to be some kind of a public message that stealing is stealing is stealing," said Malcolm, who oversees the arm of the Justice Department that prosecutes copyright and computer crime cases.
In an interview, Malcolm would not say when prosecutions would begin. The response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks temporarily diverted the departmentis resources and prevented its attorneys from focusing on this earlier, he said.
...Malcolm said, criminal prosecutions can be much more effective in intimidating file-swappers who have little assets at risk in a civil suit. "Civil remedies are not adequate...Law enforcement in that regard does have several advantages," Malcolm said. "We have the advantage, when appropriate, of opening up and conducting multi-jurisdictional and international investigations.
"Most parents would be horrified if they walked into a childis room and found 100 stolen CDs...However, these same parents think nothing of having their children spend time online downloading hundreds of songs without paying a dime."
Current federal law places the penalty for pirating software and digital media files at one to five yearsi imprisonment. The Department of Justice has already used this law to prosecute software pirates, but this will be the first time that it will be used against peer-to-peer file-swappers. You can read the article in full at CNET News.com.