Bush copyright bill supports wiretaps, expanded penalties

If you were thinking the DMCA was going to be toned back, think again. An administration copyright bill would allow eavesdropping for copyright investigations and expand the kind of copy-protection bypasses made illegal.

The Bush Administration has drafted legislation that expands restrictions on bypassing copy protection and gives police ... wait for it ... more wiretapping and enforecement powers, News.com reports. The bill will be introduced shortly to the House Judiciary Committee by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.)

During a speech in November, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales endorsed the idea and said at the time that he would send Congress draft legislation. Such changes are necessary because new technology is "encouraging large-scale criminal enterprises to get involved in intellectual-property theft," Gonzales said, adding that proceeds from the illicit businesses are used, "quite frankly, to fund terrorism activities."

Among the bill's provisions are several changes to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

Under current law, Section 1201 of the law generally prohibits distributing or trafficking in any software or hardware that can be used to bypass copy-protection devices. . . . Smith's measure would expand those civil and criminal restrictions. Instead of merely targeting distribution, the new language says nobody may "make, import, export, obtain control of, or possess" such anticircumvention tools if they may be redistributed to someone else.

"It's one degree more likely that mere communication about the means of accomplishing a hack would be subject to penalties," said Peter Jaszi, who teaches copyright law at American University and is critical of attempts to expand it.

Many more changes in the new bill. Read the News.com article for all the gory details.

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