We Refer to It Internally as the Crimethink Act of 2007
Could it be that Winston Smith, the protagonist of George Orwell’s novel “1984,” was right, “thoughtcrime is the only crime that matters”? Hard not to reach such a conclusion when the Justice Department is pressing Congress to approve proposed legislation that for the first time would criminalize intent to infringe copyright.
In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce yesterday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said this provision in the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007 was needed because intellectual-property crimes continue to harm the economy. “IP theft is not a technicality, and its victims are not just faceless corporations–it is stealing, and it affects us all,” Gonzales said. “Those who seek to undermine this cornerstone of U.S. economic competitiveness believe that they are making easy money; that they are beyond the law. It is our responsibility and commitment to show them that they are wrong.”
I suppose, but does that really require criminalizing attempted, and not-for-profit, copyright infringement and punishing it with a prison sentence of up to 10 years? Or permitting wiretaps in investigating intellectual-property offenses? Or creating a new crime punishable by life imprisonment for using pirated software?