The White House today released a white paper on its recommendations for intellectual property enforcement legislation. The recommendations all involve increasing rights and increasing penalties "so as to more effectively address the substantial harm caused by intellectual property crimes."
Recommended changes include:
- Increase prison term for counterfeit drug distributors;
- Increase prison terms for theft of trade secrets;
- Increase prison terms for intellectual property offences that risk serious bodily injury;
- Clarify that unlicensed streaming of copyrighted material is a felony;
- Provide the federal government with authority to conduct wiretaps when pursuing criminal copyright and trademark offenses;
- Create a new right of public performance for copyright owners for sound recordings transmitted by over-the-air broadcast stations;
As a reminder, willful copyright infringement is a crime so long as committed either (a) for commercial advantage or private financial gain; (b) by copying or distributing works with a retail value of more than $1,000 within a 180-day period; or (c) making a commercial work "available on a computer network accessible to members of the public." 17 U.S.C. § 506. Federal law also makes it a crime to steal, appropriate, take, carry away, or conceal a trade secret or to obtain the trade secret by fraud, artifice, or deception – with intent to convert the trade secret and for the economic benefit of someone other than the trade secret owner. 18 U.S.C. § 1832. The trade secret law creates a criminal cause of action against someone "copies, duplicates, sketches, draws, photographs, downloads, uploads, alters, destroys, photocopies, replicates, transmits, delivers, sends, mails, communicates, or conveys such information" or "receives, buys, or possesses such information, knowing the same to have been stolen or appropriated, obtained, or converted without authorization." Finally, the trade secret law also creates a criminal cause of action for attempts and conspiracies.