Kids, Don't Take Your Camcorders to the Movies
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005, which includes the Artists’ Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005 (the “ART Act”), making it a federal crime to videotape movies in theaters. The bill also increases penalties for those who distribute movies, music or other copyrighted works via the Internet without permission.

Movie-tapers can go to jail for up to three years for a first offense and up to six for repeat offenses, but the bill charges the U.S. Sentencing Commission with figuring out appropriate punishment for Internet infringers, saying the punishment should be “sufficiently stringent to deter, and adequately reflect the nature of, intellectual property rights crimes.”

According to Title I, Section 103, Paragraph A, Subsection 1, “In general, any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished...if the infringement was committed (a) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain; (b) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of one or more copies or phonorecords of one or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000; or (c) by the distribution of a work being prepared for commercial distribution, by making it available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, if such person knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution.”

The bill also provides that civil lawsuits may be brought by copyright holders against infringers. A similar bill was passed by both the House and Senate last year, but in two different versions that were never reconciled. The current bill will now go to the House for consideration.