Attorney General Shows Interest In Copyright Law

    May 15, 2007

I have to wonder if Alberto Gonzales has been watching “Wag the Dog”; the attorney general lacks the power to start a military conflict, but he has put forth a proposal that attacks various forms of copyright infringement.  Some onlookers see this as little more than an attempt to divert attention from Gonzales’s own problems.

Techdirt’s Mike Masnick filed the story in the “you-have-to-be-kidding” department, writing, “You would think with a war going on, the threat of terrorism and, well, a scandal at his office that many think will eventually force him to resign, that the Attorney General of the US would be pretty busy dealing with any of those things.

“Apparently not,” Masnick continued.  “AG Alberto Gonzales decided that now is the best time to ask Congress (who you might say isn’t particularly happy with him right now) to pass stricter intellectual property laws.”

Gonzales suggested that anyone who “attempts” to infringe copyright law be prosecuted, according to Declan McCullagh.  Wiretaps would become easier to establish, and computers and other property could be “more readily” seized.  The RIAA is mentioned, as well – Homeland Security would have to notify that entity about illegal (copyright-related) imports.

The attorney general nonetheless maintains that this is not about dollars and cents.  “While crimes like (intellectual property) theft may appear harmless to some, we know that the reality is much different,” said Gonzales, as reported by Variety.  “Imagine a heart patient undergoing emergency surgery at a hospital that unknowingly purchased substandard counterfeit surgical equipment or medications.”

No one seems to know what kind of support the attorney general’s proposal can expect.  It should, at least, keep Gonzales’s name in the headlines.