'Attempted Copyright Crimes' Law Proposed

Copying music or movies? Don't even think about it, says attorney general Alberto Gonzales. He's supporting a new law that would make even attempting copyright infringement a new federal offense.

Gonzales pushed the law in a speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It has also been broached in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as a press release.

The Intellectual Property Protection Act first surfaced a year ago under the sponsorship of Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). In addition to criminalizing attempted copyright infringement, it would also facilitate wiretaps, create a uniform standard for forfeitures, and increase penalties for violations of the existing Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

If the defendant "knowingly and recklessly" uses pirated software to cause bodily injury, penalties can range from 10 to 20 years. If the act of piracy causes death, the penalty is life inprisonment. Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising clause, according to news.com, would require the Department of Homeland Security to notify the Recording Industry Association of America of bootleg-CD importation.

With both houses of Congress having changed hands, prospects for passage are uncertain.