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Prison terms on tap for 'prerelease' pirates

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Lee

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Prison terms on tap for 'prerelease' pirates


File-swappers who distribute a single copy of a prerelease movie on the Internet can be imprisoned for up to three years, under a bill that's slated to become the most Draconian expansion of online piracy penalties in years.
The bill, approved by Congress on Tuesday, is written so broadly it could make a federal felon of anyone who has even one copy of a film, software program or music file in a shared folder and should have known the copyrighted work had not been commercially released. Stiff fines of up to $250,000 can also be levied. Penalties would apply regardless of whether any downloading took place.

If signed into law, as expected, the bill would dramatically lower the bar for online copyright prosecutions. Current law sanctions criminal penalties of up to three years in prison for "the reproduction or distribution of 10 or more copies or phonorecords of one or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of $2,500 or more."

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