Two Democratic lawmakers yesterday (July 21) said opponents are misinterpreting a provision in their Author, Consumer, and Computer Owner Protection and Security Act, Billboard Bulletin reports. The b

Two Democratic lawmakers yesterday (July 21) said opponents are misinterpreting a provision in their Author, Consumer, and Computer Owner Protection and Security Act, Billboard Bulletin reports. The bill would levy steep fines and jail time to those who upload unauthorized music files to peer-to-peer networks.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation called the measure "overbroad" and "misguided," as it could lead to a five-year jail term and $250,000 fine for a fan who uploads just one file.

Michael Jackson added his voice to the argument, suggesting the music industry and consumers work together to find a solution. "I am speechless about the idea of putting music fans in jail for downloading music," Jackson said in a statement released yesterday. "It is wrong to download, but the answer cannot be jail.

"Here in America we create new opportunities out of adversity, not punitive laws," he said. "It is the fans that drive the success of the music business; I wish this would not be forgotten."

Reps. Howard Berman, D-Calif., and John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., said yesterday in an explanatory memo that the provision in the bill simply clarifies current law. Under the existing statute, infringement is triggered by distribution of 10 or more copies worth $2,500. The lawmakers say any upload would surely be downloaded by more than 10 people.

"In fact," they wrote, "it constitutes the distribution of unlimited copies worth an unlimited amount." They called the provision "reasonable" because prosecutors will have to prove that willful infringement occurred.