White House Recommends Increased Criminal Penalties for Intellectual Property Crimes

The White House today released a white paper on its recommendations for intellectual property enforcement legislation. The recommendations all involve increasing rights and increasing penalties “so as to more effectively address the substantial harm caused by intellectual property crimes.”

Recommended changes include:

  1. Increase prison term for counterfeit drug distributors;
  2. Increase prison terms for theft of trade secrets;
  3. Increase prison terms for intellectual property offences that risk serious bodily injury;
  4. Clarify that unlicensed streaming of copyrighted material is a felony;
  5. Provide the federal government with authority to conduct wiretaps when pursuing criminal copyright and trademark offenses;
  6. Create a new right of public performance for copyright owners for sound recordings transmitted by over-the-air broadcast stations;

As a reminder, willful copyright infringement is a crime so long as committed either (a) for commercial advantage or private financial gain; (b) by copying or distributing works with a retail value of more than $1,000 within a 180-day period; or (c) making a commercial work “available on a computer network accessible to members of the public.” 17 U.S.C. § 506. Federal law also makes it a crime to steal, appropriate, take, carry away, or conceal a trade secret or to obtain the trade secret by fraud, artifice, or deception – with intent to convert the trade secret and for the economic benefit of someone other than the trade secret owner. 18 U.S.C. § 1832. The trade secret law creates a criminal cause of action against someone “copies, duplicates, sketches, draws, photographs, downloads, uploads, alters, destroys, photocopies, replicates, transmits, delivers, sends, mails, communicates, or conveys such information” or “receives, buys, or possesses such information, knowing the same to have been stolen or appropriated, obtained, or converted without authorization.” Finally, the trade secret law also creates a criminal cause of action for attempts and conspiracies.



40 thoughts on “White House Recommends Increased Criminal Penalties for Intellectual Property Crimes

  1. 40

    IMO … the public at large has given up on copyright law in general. The average Joe, especially the up and coming generation, have long since come to the realization that copyright laws are so far out of whack with the public’s interest and the realities of the marketplace that it simply isn’t worth giving them any deference or thought.

    You can only have so many “its good to be Disney” type laws and court decisions before folks start to think the game is a bit one-sided.
    Ok. Rant over.

  2. 39

    Another thing not delt with is penelties for uspto interoffice file tampering to steal inventions we need to move twords imediate novelty checks on filing and no more 18 months secrecy files the internet is hacked so landing in the office first is all an aplicant can hope for.

  3. 38

    I notice this whitehouse paper contains nothing about getting performers to pay for ip creation such as critical catchphrases catigory creations music styles tv and movie and commercials screen writing ect another inventor related omission stiffeling creation and reducing consumer spending contributing to recession continuance.

  4. 37

    IBM isent superman either although fortune magazine thinks so if they only new I was being threateded with being stuffed into the trunk when I created batman and there intellectual property theyd realize that they been robin. clearly congress in not establishing protection for inventors is driving inventors from our shores with increasingly dangerious conditions with reguards to roberies of inventors due to first to file and the general nature of intellectual property evidencing disgusting.

  5. 36

    It overturns 90 years of copyright law, if I remember correctly. Hopefully someone will take it to the Supreme Court.

    As with most copyright bills these days, it’s laden with unconstitutionality, not that most courts have noticed yet.

  6. 35

    The original First Congress copyright law — it was more favorable to the public than the preexisting British law.

    Since then, no. It’s clear that the copyright/patent clause in the Constitution has been abused horrendously.

  7. 34

    Nice how they tacked on the public performance right for sound recordings on an otherwise unrelated white paper. Record companies clearly have a more sophisticated lobbying machine than radio stations.

  8. 33

    I second TINLA’s view.

    The prolific and detached-from-real-world offerings of IANAE are readily seen as Academia Offal.

  9. 32

    pingaling, you know ianae is an ivory tower recluse. It’s spring break. Do the math.

  10. 31

    Alright – what the F is goin on here?

    Anyone seen my main man IANAE?

    His usual prolific self up to the tneth, a few measly posts on the 11th and nothing for a week…??????

    Call the National Guard, send out the search squads, this is a calamity!

  11. 30

    Q: What’s worse than a Friday hangover?

    A: A Friday hangover and looking at the crrp postings all over the place from two of the most inept horsemen.

    Since Homey dont do answers, this must be solid fact.

  12. 29

    lulz, no. The scene was like way shorter than I expected. They overhyped about that particular nugget. Although, I did rather enjoy the movie though. It kind of reminded me of my experience where you go through a daunting school experience, realize you’re the sht, but hey, why not just settle down next to a river with a hot chic instead of saving the world? I mean, seriously? Why not?

  13. 27

    “I felt dirty”

    In a good way? Like you were really stickin’ it to the “man” by watching this dangerous movie?

    Oh and btw, the way I felt was like I wanted to go see Emma Watson without a lot of clothes on in Harry Potter rather than finish watching the movie. Guess what I did?

  14. 26

    I just saw the Social Network.

    The next day, I see this.

    Steal bread for your sisters kids as in Les Miserables, and spend 20years at hard labor. “Steal” idea that ends up being worth billions, get off with a relatively small settlement.

    Seems fair.

    I wonder how you guys felt after seeing the movie. I felt dirty.

  15. 24

    “6, patents promote the progress of the useful arts in part by providing incentives for disclosure so that others can build upon the disclosed technology”

    Yeah I’m aware. In the case of trade secrits the market provides the incentive to invent the same technology and then build on it yourself.

    For example, your no. 1 lost tech, the method of making violins with a certain sound quality, would be fairly valuable, but apparently it is not valuable enough for anyone to bother to reproduce it. Unlike what the article says, it is not “impossible” to figure out the method of manufacturing and execute it or a similar one. It has simply been beyond the skill of the handfull of violintards in that field.

    Little surprise there.

    “The leading hypothesis seems to be that the density of the particular wood used accounts for the sound.”

    Obviously it is the material science behind the wood that is at play in the violin’s construction since we can no doubt reproduce the physical shape of the violins.

    Mat sci takes dolla dolla bills yo. The italians stumbled upon the secrit years ago, or developed it and happened to strike a rich vein of research. Good for them. Now others can try if they want.

    “In fact, at least one study concluded that most people don’t even notice a difference in sound quality between a Stradivari violin and a modern counterpart.”

    Of course most people don’t. “most people” don’t have a trained ear or particularly care to notice the difference.

    Notice, in the end, that the value of those violins is not so much just the sound but the rarity of the sound. The moment we rediscover the secrit and start making violins like that standard then they all drop to barely above current market prices.

    So the market does not provide a huge incentive to the people (mat scientists) who would tackle the challenge.


    Probably mythological.

    “The Antikythera Mechanism”

    Probably from aliens. 99% chance. Literally. I’m not even shtting you. And its purpose was probably to amuse chillins.

    “The Library of Alexandria”

    yeah no kidding. The original equivalent to the nearly free patent office. Burned by some bozos. Not really an invention tho.

    “Damascus Steel”

    Another mat sci project waiting to happen without sufficient market incentive to be accomplished.

    “Instead, they would simply forge the swords en masse, and test them to determine which met the standards of Damascus steel. ”



    Not really a lost tech, just a lost plant. I’m all for keeping all our plants alive and un-extinctionalized.

    “Roman Cement”

    Apparently not that much of a trade secrit except from all those outside the entire trade of stonemasonry, who apparently were all killed off. If you kill everyone off then you deserve to have to reinvent imo.

    Also I note that it is always a good thing to add a little blood to one’s cement recipe, just ask the chinese. Their great wall is doing grrrreat!

    “Greek Fire”

    Meh, I have a molotov cocktail and napalm. It’ll do.

    “Still, the closest counterpart to Greek Fire, napalm, wasn’t perfected until the early 1940s, which would mean the technology was lost for several hundred years. ”

    Exactly, it was only lost until someone bothered to reinvent it.

    Note the looks on those guys faces in the boat getting fired on. They’re like “lol greek fire”. Or maybe “lol o noes greek fire!”

    Like I said, generally speaking, I see no problem with em’, they’re a good thing. We need challenges in life to make it interesting.

    ” If we lived in a world without patents, trade secrets would be much more common, and progress would likely be much slower.”

    Lulz, because those of ordinary skill are like all the time reading patents. All the time. Like, literally, at least once a decade or every time they have to be bothered with the patent system. Mhmmm, lack o patents would surely slow down the progress. Yeah. Mhmmm. By like a super lot.

    In sum, yeah, a lot of knowledge is lost in wars, extinctions, mass killings off of skilled people, etc. But that’s no excuse to call trade secrits bad. They have a right to keep their secrits and take them to their graves if they want. If society really cared about the knowledge then I’m sure the tradesman would be willing to part with their secrits for a price.

    I note that I have some trade secrits at my house right now that you guys can’t have. And I have several more in my brain. Do you really care? Nope. And that’s just the way it was when all these techs were lost.

    Since I’m generous though, I’ll tell you about one of them, one of the less promising ones. It’s a type of mold I grew on some old strawberries, I’m hoping it’ll cure cancer. But don’t you guys tell anyone ok?


  16. 23

    There are very few examples remaining in the world of certain specially processed peices, and no one knows how they were made.

    Honestly, I’m perfectly fine with that sort of thing.

  17. 21

    6, patents promote the progress of the useful arts in part by providing incentives for disclosure so that others can build upon the disclosed technology. If we lived in a world without patents, trade secrets would be much more common, and progress would likely be much slower. Some secret arts might even be lost, as were some secret methods of making stained glass during the black plague. There are very few examples remaining in the world of certain specially processed peices, and no one knows how they were made. Many were destroyed during the world wars.

  18. 20

    Clarify that unlicensed streaming of copyrighted material is a felony

    Regardless of the value of the copyrighted material?

    That’s ridiculous.

  19. 19

    So tell me Broje, why are trade secrits bad? Don’t they have a right to their intellectual properties the same as you and me?

    The beauty of trade secrits is that anyone can come along and replicate their effect, or even the subject matter of the trade secrit in its entirety if they are so inclined. I see nothing bad about that.

  20. 18

    I’m especially opposed to criminal penalties for obtaining or receiving trade secrets. I mean, one of the great justifications for patents is as an alternative to seeking to maintain the information as a trade secret. Trade secrets are generally bad and to be discouraged. We don’t need laws that encourage trade secret practices. Contract law is more than enough protection there.

  21. 17

    Indeed. And the Presidential Medal of Honor should be awarded to Promote the Progress LLC and their diligent attorneys.

  22. 16

    Obviously. It is capricious lawl enforcement at its best, created by lawls that are unenforceable.

    Ditto for most drug lawls, traffic lawls, etc. etc. on down the line.

  23. 15

    I’m stunned – no talk of upping the price for that most heinous of IP “crimes”, false patent marking? C’mon Obama, show the courts who’s in charge – pass legislation making it a $5,000 per item offense, and get rid of the intent prong – just make it strict liability! And throw in some jail time to boot! Because false marking is just, like, the biggest threat to the economy out there!

    /sarcasm off/

  24. 14

    This proposed system for prosecuting copyright infringement is comparable to enforcement of speed limits by picking a single speeder nationwide every month and writing them a $5 million traffic citation. It’s so easy to circumvent and the risks seem so remote that nothing is accomplished except randomly punishing someone severely.

  25. 13

    Well it looks like the oboma paper does have one refrence that deals potentially with inventor related issues that risk serious bodily injury. Although doughtful that specific language will deal with the particular issues ive experianced intimidation and duress reguarding direct contact with inventors with the intention to steal intellectual property a provision would be a great benifit to return of integrity to the system. Mr kyle in recomending passage of the senate bill should be investigated for corruption since valid arguments against passage still existed by myself in this blog Mr. Kyle corruptley quoted from I.P. watchdog that there was no furthur problems with the bill when mr Quinn Is an illegal cival rights violating freedom of speach violator sensor of opposing or dissenting views on his blog disgusting.Clearly we need legislation dealing with this issue also.

  26. 12

    Actually there should be a non issuance of patent pending status on applications infringing on a first filed application and a uspto policing action to stop startup activities that destroy patent values by satisfying consumer demand let the developers and established companies negoatiate with the first filers then startup.

  27. 11

    Well written and informative article… But i believe there should be no criminal penalty for IP infringement.
    It is very important to make sure that invention to be filed for patent is patentable and has been explained comprehensively in draft. To read more on this please check: link to sinapseblog.com

  28. 10

    If you try to contact these legislators or oboma you get no accknowledgement whatsoever. There should be a law that all email and fax correspondance be posted on all politicians weblites as proof of notification of problems that are being denied and covered up now theres real transparency my obona.

  29. 9

    Why infringing goods are seized so why isent whole product infringment criminal. Inventorship thefts should also be criminal they destroy the incentive to create and defraud the true inventor destroying human advancement.Drug and entertainment companies are buying government wile the inventors who produced it all are ignored. This is disgusting corruption and I dont think superman works for the F.B.I. eather.

  30. 8

    Theres nothing in this proposal about inventor security or uspto agencey policing to protect inventors. Weve already had the worlds only three master inventors murdered and approved the murdering of the fourth by allowing inventors patents to be stolen after death and still no protection proposals who do they think they are.Clearly the F.B.I. needs to investigate these legislators this is far morre than neglegence.

  31. 7

    Can anybody think of any US copyright law, ever, that actually went in favor of the general public and the public domain, rather than copyright holders?

  32. 4

    Meanwhile rampant fraud in the banking and securities industries is ignored.

    Well now we’ll just have ta fix that and get us some patents in that area – then theyza wont be ignored.

  33. 3

    Criminal penalties for IP infringement is insanity. But 6 nailed it – it’s all about drug and entertainment companies buying government.

    Meanwhile rampant fraud in the banking and securities industries is ignored.

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