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August 1, 2007

Proposed Legislation for US Attempted Infringement Addition to Intellectual Property

I have a site that gets scraped hundreds of thousands of files a month. I use my site tools to track down the Internet users that are stealing my content, and bandwidth. Then I send a letter to their ISP. In the mean time I use many means to watch for my content to pop up on the Internet with someone else's Domain. Generally, the ISPs don't care to enforce their own abuse policies. Most times the abuse continues, at which point I block the IP address, and send the ISP a "Cease and Desist Letter"... letting them know since they failed to enforce their own abuse policy when given the opportunity in this case for intervention, that if my content shows up in a public venue I will go forward with an infringement suit and their company ( the ISP) will also legally be named liable for damages due to failure to enforce its own abuse policy for allowing continued abuse after proper documentation and notification.

So my point is this, scraper sites are rampant.....and finally legislation to help protect us is on the horizon. This new legislation will make some copyright infringement CRIMINAL, not civil. This new proposal brought forth by Congress by Rep. Steve Chabot make even attempted copyright infringement a crime whose prosecution can be pursued by the government, and includes beefed up jail time. Most of the jail sentences are doubled, nearly across the board. An attempt to commit copyright infringement will be treated the same as successfully doing the crime! The only real disclaimers are that the infringement must be willful, but certainly scrapers are such. Stupidity and lack of or misinformation does not constitute a accidental or non willful act. The infringement must also have a financial gain of 1000$ or more. I am assuming that would be combined for the purpose of the money I lose from my content being stolen or hijacked in some cases, what the scraper site gains in revenue, plus any long term damages all totalled.

Here is the proposed bill language, Intellectual Property Enhanced Criminal Enforcement Act of 2007.

(a) Criminal Infringement. - Any person who infringes a copyright willfully either -

(1) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, or

(2) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000,shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, United States Code. For purposes of this subsection, evidence of reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work, by itself, shall not be sufficient to establish willful infringement.

So anyhow there is a very interesting discussion playing out here. I rather think this is one of the better things to happen for webmasters. Now if the search engines would just fix syndication with a digital signature of some sort, we would be great. Because it is complete BS, that sometimes my articles are reprinted by a site with higher PageRank and then MY actual page is dumped in the supplemental as the duplicate...IDIOTS! I work very hard to write clean original copy everyday, and I deserve its syndication for myself.

Comments are welcome, as always I will edit the post and credit the commenter if it's appropriate.

Peace and SEO

Melanie Prough

DIY Your SEO With The SEOCog
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