Over at against Monopoly Justin Levine notes the story of the man who was arrest, not sued, for alleged copyright violations. Under U.S. law copyright violations had always been considered a matter for civil courts. No more:
A man accused of posting nine previously unreleased songs by the rock band Guns N’ Roses on a website where they could be accessed by the public was arrested at his home early today on suspicion of violating federal copyright laws, authorities said.
Kevin Cogill, 27, is accused of posting the songs, which were being prepared for commercial release, on the Internet blog Antiquiet in June, according to an arrest affidavit. The site received so much traffic after the songs were posted that it crashed, the affidavit states.
The ephemeral line between civil and criminal penalties in copyright is yet another bothersome abuse of the intersection between business interests and state power. Why are some accused of copyright violations merely sued by businesses while others are arrested by the state? What truly distinguishes one case from the other, and how do authorities make such a determination? On the surface, it seems that the only difference is how much political clout a particular business has with authorities.
I am of the belief that IP violations should never be considered as a criminal offense unless there are other criminal activities associated with the use of the IP itself (i.e., selling ‘pirated’ goods or fake knock-offs of trademarked products to help fund terrorist groups, organized crime, etc.)
Emphasis, as always, is by E_F