File-swappers who distribute a single copy of a prerelease movie on the Internet can be imprisoned for up to three years, under a bill that's slated to become the most Draconian expansion of online piracy penalties in years.
The bill, approved by Congress on Tuesday, is written so broadly it could make a federal felon of anyone who has even one copy of a film, software program or music file in a shared folder and should have known the copyrighted work had not been commercially released. Stiff fines of up to $250,000 can also be levied. Penalties would apply regardless of whether any downloading took place...
Invoking a procedure used for noncontroversial legislation, the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the measure, called the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act. Because the bill already has cleared the Senate, it now goes to President Bush for his signature.