You’d think that Attorney General Albert Gonzales would have a lot on his plate these days, but he’s apparently spending his time coaxing Congress to pass a bill that ratchets up the penalties for infringing copyright. Included in the bill, known as the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007, are a lot of scary-sounding provisions, including proposed life sentences for people who use pirated software, greater power to wiretap suspected infringers, and enacting penalties against anyone who “intends” to commit copyright infringement. And then there’s the proposed crackdown on concert bootlegs:
Require Homeland Security to alert the Recording Industry Association of America. That would happen when compact discs with “unauthorized fixations of the sounds or sounds and images of a live musical performance” are attempted to be imported. Neither the Motion Picture Association of America nor the Business Software Alliance (nor any other copyright holder such as photographers, playwrights, or news organizations, for that matter) would qualify for this kind of special treatment.
Because like Gonzales, Homeland Security doesn’t have enough on its plate. Anyway, we can see this legislation–if it does go through, that is–turning into quite the mess, especially with the RIAA’s slippery definition of “authorized.” And we have to wonder: Why the specific focus on live recordings–does Gonzales just really, really hate jam bands, or is there something bigger we’re missing?