Bootleggers trafficking unauthorized sound recordings and copyrighted works can expect fines up to $2 million and jail terms of up to 10 years if Congress passes the "Protecting American Goods and Ser


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Bootleggers trafficking unauthorized sound recordings and copyrighted works can expect fines up to $2 million and jail terms of up to 10 years if Congress passes the "Protecting American Goods and Services Act of 2005," introduced May 23 in the Senate.

The bipartisan bill, co-authored by Sens. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and John Cornyn, R-Tex., would also slap penalties of up to $5 million on counterfeiting groups.

The Leahy-Cornyn bill, S. 1095, tightens loopholes in current law. It criminalizes the importation and exportation of counterfeit or bootleg copies of copyrighted works.

"This legislation provides important protection against the rampant piracy that continues to wreak havoc on American industry. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet answer to solving the problem of physical piracy," said Brad Buckles, executive VP of anti-piracy for the Recording Industry Assn. of America. "Our best hope for success lies in a multi-pronged attack, and we applaud Senators Leahy and Cornyn for putting forth this important set of measures."

Besides imposing stiffer penalties for those possessing counterfeit goods with the intent to sell or traffic in those goods, the legislation expands the definition of "trafficking" to include so-called "tradeouts" or bartering -- barring any distribution of counterfeits with the "expectation of gaining something of value" in return.

"Criminals should not be able to skirt the law simply because they barter illegal goods and services in exchange for their illicit wares," said Leahy in his introduction statement.

Leahy also noted that the U.S. Customs Service has reported the sale of counterfeit and pirated music, movies, software, T-shirts, clothing and fake drugs "accounts for much of the money the international terrorist network depends on to feed its operations."

Leahy has worked for nearly a decade to upgrade anti-counterfeiting laws. In 1996, he co-authored a bill that expanded RICO, the federal anti-racketeering law, to cover crimes involving counterfeiting and infringements of copyrights and trademarks.

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